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Padres’ 16-year-old prospect Ethan Salas picks up first pro hit

Ethan Salas, the third-ranked prospect in the Padres’ organization, made the most of his first professional career at-bat.

The 16-year-old won an eight-pitch battle in the bottom of the first inning for the Single-A Lake Elsinore Storm with a line-drive double to left-center field on Tuesday night against the Visalia Rawhide, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ farm club.

This marked his first professional career hit in the minors, two days before he turns 17 on June 1.

Salas, who hit second and was the designated hitter, went 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored in the Storm’s 3-1 win.

Salas was added to the roster on Tuesday, following the Venezuelan catcher’s $5.6 million signing with San Diego at the opening of the 2023 international signing window.

With the agreement, Salas becomes the first member of the international class to appear in the minor leagues and the first 2006-born player to make his pro debut.

Angels outfielder Nelson Rada, who was born on Aug. 24, 2005, was previously the youngest pro baseball player on roster this season.

Salas became the first 16-year-old to go right in Single-A since Dodgers lefty Julio Urías did in 2013, according to Baseball America.

Ethan Salas smiles after getting his first career professional hit.
Ethan Salas ready to swing at his first career professional hit in the minor leagues.

Just two other players have made Single-A level at the age of the 17 since 2018 — Rada and Padres outfielder Samuel Zavala, who didn’t make the advanced jump like Salas but rather faced time in complex-level games before moving on to full-season play.

Salas already has shown promise and won the favor of some of the league’s best, having worked with Yu Darvish for example.

Ethan Salas takes off his catcher's mask off after the Spring Training Game against the Chicago White Sox.
Getty Images

“He’s kind of the total-package catcher,” scouting director Chris Kemp said after the Padres signed Salas this winter. “It’s just rare. This is my ninth year doing international scouting and, for us, this is the most interesting guy we’ve scouted.”

Salas played in a Cactus League spring game in March for the Padres, where he caught for four innings against the White Sox and grounded out in his only at-bat.

He eventually developed right shoulder soreness which limited him in the spring, but he’s healthy now.