Top international prospect Ethan Salas passed by Rookie-level Complex League and had an exciting debut for Lake Elsinore Storm, on Tuesday. Back in January, the San Diego Padres signed the currently third-ranked Salas as a catcher to their Single-A affiliate team Lake Elsinore Storm.

The Padres gave him the largest bonus of the international signing class at $5.6 million.

With an investment like that, Salas’s first at-bat was surely one the organization was paying attention to. The bottom of the first inning versus the Arizona Diamondbacks Single-A affiliate Visalia Rawhide would be the first look for the Padres.

The 16-year-old Venezuelan lefty patiently worked his first at-bat into a full count, and then after eight pitches, Salas swatted a pitch that led to a helmet-losing double.

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Salas worked the rest of his plate appearances into a single, strike, and turned a 0-2 count into a very important walk. The last at-bat for Salas would turn into the go-ahead run after first baseman Griffin Doersching punished the ball for a two-run homer for a tone-setting debut victory.

While the successful first outing is a plus, the Padres want to focus more on how the young Salas handles a full professional season.

“You want to make sure he’s ready to go out from an ability standpoint…but more so is he able to transition being outside of complex baseball,” said Padres farm director Ryley Westman. “Is he going to take care of his lifts? Is he going to be eating right? Is he going to take care of business away from the field? Is he an individual at 16 years old, basically a high school kid, that you’re comfortable sending out?

The newbie was modest when commenting about his debut. “I just go out there and play my game as hard as I can and don’t really pay attention to anything else. I mean, this is my life. This is what I do 24/7, and every time I’m out there I just play like it’s my last. I’m just here to play, have fun and win a ballgame,” said Salas.

To top it all off, Salas turned 17 on June 1. Happy birthday indeed!

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