The San Diego Padres released their list of non-roster invitees (NRI) who'll be taking part in Major League spring training next month. As is typically the case with these players, there are a number of veterans who are looking to reestablish themselves in the big leagues. But there's also a handful of young prospects who are trying to show off their skills for the manager, coaches and executives.
But every so often, you'll see a name that you didn't expect. While most Padres fans have heard of Ethan Salas, it's a good bet that few, if any, expected the 17-year-old to receive a non-roster invite to spring training this year.
One can safely assume that with pitchers and catchers reporting to Peoria on Sunday, Feb. 11, Salas will be on the field. While Salas won't beat out former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Joe Nuxhall, who debuted at age 15, it's not crazy to think the experience the young backstop receives this spring could propel him toward the Padres Opening Day roster in 2025.
Padres top prospect, Ethan Salas, receives surprise non-roster invite to spring training
Last season, Ethan Salas spent time at both Low-A Lake Elisnore and High-A Fort Wayne before actually getting called up to Double-A San Antonio at the end the year. Collectively, Salas hit .248/.331/.421 with 13 doubles, two triples, and nine home runs. Salas is ranked fifth among all prospects according to MLB Pipeline, and is one of two Top 10 prospects who'll take part in Padres spring training.
Joining Salas in Peoria next month will be Jackson Merrill. The shortstop, who finished his 2023 season at Double-A, would seem like a long shot to be part of San Diego's Opening Day roster. However, a strong showing in spring training and continued development in the minors could see Merrill called up to the big leagues by midseason.
Some others top prospects of note include left-handed starter Robby Snelling, former second-round draft pick Adam Mazur, and right-handed prospect Drew Thorpe, whom the Friars secured in the offseason Juan Soto trade with the New York Yankees.
Giving Salas an opportunity to showcase his talents during spring training is only going to excite the San Diego fanbase even more. This is a huge step for one of the best young talents in the game, and one that could greatly aid his development as he inches closer to the big leagues.