Padres reassign top prospect Salas to Minor League camp

March 4th, 2024

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Naturally, with their season slated to start early, the Padres are making early cuts this spring, too.

On Sunday afternoon, they made a flurry of moves, paring their big league roster to 50 with 10 days remaining until they depart for Korea and their season-opening two-game series against the Dodgers. Among those reassigned to Minor League camp was , the team's top-ranked prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

In big league camp at 17 years old, Salas certainly wasn't overmatched. In six Cactus League games, he went 2-for-7 with a walk while holding his own behind the plate.

"You mentioned his age," manager Mike Shildt said last week. "I don’t think of him as 17. He just is a really good player.”

It's unclear where Salas will begin his 2024 season, after the Padres moved him quickly in 2023, his first year playing professionally. Salas became the first 16-year-old to play full-season ball since Julio Urías did so for the Dodgers a decade prior.

The Padres moved Salas as high as Double-A San Antonio last year -- to give him a taste of a playoff run and to get him working alongside some of the team's top pitching prospects. Among that group were lefty Robby Snelling (the Padres' No. 3 prospect) and righties Jairo Iriarte (No. 7) and Adam Mazur (No. 8) -- all three of whom were assigned to Minor League camp with Salas on Sunday.

"He doesn't act like a normal 17-year-old," Snelling said earlier in camp. "He receives just as well as anybody else I've thrown to. I really don't think about the age when we get into it. We're both trying to do the same thing. In my opinion, age doesn't really matter, if you're capable of doing it at this high of a level."

Shildt echoed that sentiment.

"He’s really no different than anybody in the clubhouse," Shildt said. "… He’s really intentional about how he goes about his business. He’s got a quiet demeanor. But he’s always looking around. He’s absorbing, and he’s listening, and he’s learning. And then you see it being applied -- which is probably the best thing."

In addition to Salas, Snelling, Iriarte and Mazur, the Padres assigned seven more to Minors camp: infielders Marcos Castañon and Nathan Martorella and pitchers Nick Hernandez, Sean Reynolds, Daniel Camarena, Jay Groome and Austin Krob.

As far as the Opening Day roster goes, none of those moves should come as a surprise. Groome and Iriarte are perhaps the two most consequential cuts, as both were vying for places on the season-opening pitching staff.