Padres international prospect signing already generating superstar buzz
Once holders of MLB's richest farm system, the San Diego Padres quickly morphed into a team of superstars. Having made multiple trades for premium-level players in recent years, Fernando Tatis Jr. is the only homegrown stud left standing.
Manny Machado and Xander Bogaerts were acquired through free agency, while Juan Soto and Josh Hader were nabbed at the 2022 trade deadline. The Padres are being held to a World Series standard in 2023 and for the foreseeable future, and it's easy to see why given their unprecedented influx of star talent.
Might another homegrown Friar join Tatis on the diamond in the near future? While top prospect, shortstop Jackson Merrill, has showed great promise, the youngster we're referring to is international prospect signing Ethan Salas.
At this point, the Salas signing might've gotten lost in the shuffle of San Diego's blockbuster offseason that included extending Machado and Yu Darvish, and signing Bogaerts, Nelson Cruz, Michael Wacha, and Matt Carpenter.
It might be time for Padres fans to pay more attention to Salas, however, as the Venezuelan catcher has earned rave reviews from scouts as a 16-year-old.
Padres star prospect Ethan Salas already showing All-Star potential
Salas signed with the Padres just as the international signing window opened. That's no surprise, as he went for a record $5.6 million that stands as the highest since international spending pools were capped starting in 2017.
Salas' impact won't be felt in MLB for a few more years, but the sheer hype he's garnering suggests he could debut before his teenage years are over.
“He’s going to star for the Padres as a teenager and he’ll be a 10-year All-Star,” one scout told the New York Post's Jon Heyman.
Another scout told Heyman that Salas is the "best amateur catcher I've ever seen, high school or college."
Just look at this swing, Padres fans.
That seven-second highlight doesn't even encapsulate the fact Salas is a five-tool prospect. Though lauded for his smooth swing as a left-handed bat, he brings just as much behind the plate with a rocket for an arm and advanced blocking instincts. Did we mention that he has decent speed, too?
If Padres fans want to keep tabs on Salas' (likely expedited) development, he's expected to begin his career at the Arizona Rookie League this year.
It's a rarity that teams use nearly all of its bonus money on one international prospect, and the Padres used $5.6 million of their allotted $5.825 million to bring in Salas.
Heyman noted there are only two other instances that a team used that much of its international bonus money on one player -- the Yankees with Jasson Dominguez, nicknamed The Martian, and the A's with infielder Robert Puason.
Jump on the bandwagon while you still can.