The Padres opened the 2023 International Signing Period with the signing of catcher Ethan Salas, the team announced.
MLB.com reported that Salas, 16, received a $5.6 million bonus, a high for international prospects since baseball capped international spending pools.
He is widely considered the top overall player prospect in this year’s class, ranking first on Baseball America’s 2023 International Bonus Board, FanGraphs’ 2023 International Prospect Rankings and MLB Pipeline’s International Prospect Rankings.
Scouts say the 6-2, 185-pound backstop, from Caracas, Venezuela, is equipped with a pure left-handed swing and advanced eye at the plate. On defense, Salas shows athleticism, advanced blocking and receiving skills with a plus-rated arm.
MLB said Salas is likely to play in the Arizona Rookie League this season.
“I take my job seriously,” Salas told MLB.com. “I take it as a leader, and as a catcher, you’ve got to be that leader on the field.”
Padres scouting director Chris Kemp told MLB simply, “I don’t want to put a limit on Ethan Salas.”
The teen, who is bilingual, comes from a strong baseball background, as his older brother, Jose, signed with the Miami Marlins in 2019 and is rated as a consensus top-five prospect in the Marlins’ system.
His father, Jose Antonio, played in the Atlanta Braves organization, his uncle, Jose Gregorio, played in the Toronto Blue Jays system, and grandfather, also Jose Gregorio, played in the Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals systems.
The international signing period continues through Dec. 15.