Spring Breakout showcases Padres' battery of the future

March 24th, 2024

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Padres fans looking for a glimpse into the club’s collective future needed to look no further than Saturday’s starting pitcher/catcher battery at the Peoria Sports Complex, where the club picked up a 13-10 win over Mariners talent.

With 17-year-old wunderkind and overall No. 8 prospect Ethan Salas putting down the signals for heralded mound prospects Robby Snelling (Padres’ No. 3, No. 36 overall) and Dylan Lesko (Padres’ No. 4, No. 56 overall), the final game of the 2024 Spring Breakout circuit provided a look into what could sooner than later be the scene at Petco Park. Both hurlers worked with Salas at different stops in the San Diego system last year.

“[Double-A] San Antonio last year was awesome to be able to build that relationship with him,” Snelling said. “I think we made some really big strides and being able to have that relationship last year, then come into the game this year, it just puts you ahead of everybody else that you're playing against.”

Snelling drew the start on the bump and worked an efficient 1-2-3 frame in the first, sitting in the low-90s with his fastball (topping out at 94 mph) while showing good feel for his plus-plus curveball. He faced two of Seattle’s top three prospects -- Cole Young and Colt Emerson -- and elicited a pair of groundouts.

His second frame was a bit rockier, but he settled in to scatter four hits and limit the damage to one run over three innings with four strikeouts, all of which came on his heater.

Whereas Snelling pounded the strike zone and was a beacon of efficiency, Lesko put himself behind the eight-ball by falling behind in the count early and often. While his changeup was among the top individual offerings throughout Spring Breakout, he recorded just three outs and heavily struggled with his command in his first action off the back fields this spring.

As the final half-inning took place, Salas, Snelling and Lesko sat in a row inside the club’s dugout. It was everything that Spring Breakout promised in its first iteration: a showcase for the stars of tomorrow.

Patience beyond their years
A large reason that excitement was palpable even before first pitch Saturday was due to fans getting to see some of the raw and extremely projectable talent that was on hand. That includes Leodalis De Vries, who just weeks ago arrived stateside after receiving considerable pomp as the No. 1-ranked international prospect in the 2024 class.

De Vries reached base four times in his five plate appearances -- once with an RBI single, twice via walk and once on a hit-by-pitch.

De Vries, San Diego's No. 5 prospect, has impressed many around Padres camp with his quick acclimation and even earned a Cactus League cameo (albeit for one at-bat) at just 17 years old.

“It was great to see Leo be able to come out here and contribute the way he did,” Snelling said. “It just kind of puts it into perspective how good he is at such a young age; I can't even imagine myself doing that at 17.”

Fellow 17-year-old Salas also worked a pair of walks while holding down the third spot in the lineup. That both were featured front and center is a testament to the club’s dedication to the international market and their focus on bringing along talented players at an accelerated rate.

Peoria power-up
Late on Friday night, Tirso Ornelas was sent the Padres’ lineup for Spring Breakout and saw his name listed as the starter in left field and hitting sixth in the order. A late addition to the roster, the club’s No. 30 prospect made the biggest offensive impact.

Tirso Ornelas' Padres-colored necklace, made by his mother.Kelsie Heneghan / MLB.com

Powered by a Padres-colored necklace specially crafted by his mom, Ornelas kicked off an explosive seven-run second inning by walloping a solo homer. By the time he dug back in during the same frame, first baseman Nathan Martorella (No. 13) had matched his prodigious shot onto the right-field berm with one of his own.

Ornelas wasn’t done there. The left-handed-hitting slugger delivered a resounding go-ahead three-run shot in the seventh to stake San Diego to a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. While not an official part of his stat line, it marks just the third time in his pro career (since 2017) that he has gone deep twice in a game.

“It means a lot to me. I’ve [played] seven years with this organization,” Ornelas said. “I feel glad and excited for what’s coming.”

MLB.com's Kelsie Heneghan contributed to this story.