No. 1 int'l prospect De Vries -- he's 17! -- headed to Single-A

April 22nd, 2024

The Padres signed the top prospect of his international class. They brought him over stateside in his first professional spring, and his Minor League debut will come at a full-season level.

Sound familiar?

San Diego is sending 17-year-old shortstop prospect Leodalis De Vries to Single-A Lake Elsinore on Monday, said Ryley Westman, the Padres' vice president for player development. Héctor Gómez first reported the news.

"Leo is a talented player who is also very intelligent," Westman wrote in an email on Sunday. "He has met all of the challenges that we have faced him with, and he loves to play baseball. We are excited to see him get out into the system."

The Padres signed De Vries, who ranked as MLB Pipeline's No. 1 international prospect for 2024, for $4.2 million out of the Dominican Republic back in January. The switch-hitting shortstop headed to the organization's Spring Training facility in Peoria, Ariz., in early March and got the start at short in the Spring Breakout game on March 23, going 1-for-2 with two walks, an RBI and two runs scored in a 13-10 win over the Mariners' prospects. He was one of five San Diego starters to play all nine innings in the inaugural prospect showcase.

Padres officials have been enamored with De Vries' pitch recognition and contact ability at such a young age, and those skills are big drivers of his aggressive assignments to this point. Standing at 6-foot-2, he has a chance to grow into above-average power as well, and his background as a basketball point guard serves him well with his plus speed and movements at shortstop.

The teenager's ascent to the California League is similar to Ethan Salas' a year ago. Salas, the top international prospect in the 2023 class, joined Lake Elsinore on May 30 and hit .267/.350/.487 over 48 games for the Storm before making brief appearances at High-A Fort Wayne and Double-A San Antonio to close out his first season. He's back with Fort Wayne to begin 2024 and was the youngest player on any full-season roster on Opening Day earlier this month.

Salas sits at No. 7 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list following last year's breakout, while De Vries already checks in at No. 92 before his debut. The latter could be in for a similar jump if he answers the call like his catching counterpart, and given his five-tool potential, he has every chance to take off in Lake Elsinore and perhaps even beyond this summer.

"In the words of legendary scout Don Welke, 'push the gifted,'" Padres assistant director of player development Mike Daly told Jonathan Mayo this spring. "I think we've shown we're very willing to have players advance in the system."