Padres snare No. 1 international prospect De Vries

January 15th, 2024

The Padres have added a top prospect to their system, finalizing a multimillion dollar deal with Leodalis De Vries,'s No. 1 international prospect, upon Monday's opening of the 2024 signing period.

It marks the second year in a row that the Padres have signed's top international prospect, after they landed last January.

"It's a very special day for me," De Vries said through an interpreter in a Monday morning conference call. "Especially with this being my favorite team. It definitely makes it a special day all around for me and my family."

Padres scouting director Chris Kemp noted that De Vries would spend the next few weeks training in his native Dominican Republic at the Padres' academy. But Kemp added that it's possible the 17-year-old De Vries could join the team at Minor League Spring Training in March. From there, a quick progression would seem to be on the table.

That should come as no surprise after the Padres moved Salas so quickly last season -- and even gave him time behind the plate during a big league Spring Training game.

"Immediately when we saw him, we knew it was a special talent," Kemp said of De Vries. "We felt very comfortable that this was a special situation. To be able to add him with Ethan Salas, we're very proud of our whole scouting group."

The 17-year-old De Vries has advanced hitting ability with the potential to tap into power from both sides. His loose natural rhythm could develop into 20-homer power, according to some evaluators. He takes his walks and displays plus pitch recognition, an advanced skill for his age.

"He loves to hit," Kemp said. "You watch Leo train, he's always facing live pitching. This guy will get 30-40 at-bats a day. He's very advanced from the left-hand side and the right-hand side. ... His instincts at shortstop, that's where you really see the leadership and taking control of the field. He could play anywhere in the infield. But he'll definitely go out to shortstop and see how long he can stick there."

The Padres lost $1 million from their signing pool after inking shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who rejected a qualifying offer from the Red Sox in 2022. It left them with a base signing pool of $4,652,200.

"When we signed Xander, obviously we lost some money internationally," Kemp said. "But that never really affected Leo. There were some things in our class, whether we had to adjust or change our focus. ... But Leo was always our No. 1 guy. To be able to sign Xander and still get Leo -- it was definitely a huge win for the org."

De Vries' connection with the Padres is a natural one, as he cited Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr. and the team's "Latin star power" as the reason they've been his favorite team and his preferred destination.

A smooth defender at shortstop, De Vries has the intangibles to stick at the position long term. However, with an above-average glove and arm and his 6-foot-2 frame, De Vries' talent and work ethic could allow him to play any infield position as he continues to develop physically.

With recorded times of 4.2 seconds from home to first base and 6.7 seconds in a 60-yard dash, his plus running grade should enable him to impact the game both on the basepaths -- especially with the recent increase in stolen bases -- and as a defender in the dirt. Kemp also raved about De Vries' makeup and natural leadership abilities. 

"I think I'm a leader above all," De Vries said. "I think I can help my teammates and, most importantly, help the city of San Diego win a World Series."

De Vries trains in the Dominican Republic with Lenny Pimentel, a member of MLB's Trainer Partnership Program.

An international player is eligible to sign with a Major League team between Jan. 15 and Dec. 15. He must turn 16 before he signs and be 17 before Sept. 1 the following year.

That means players born between Sept. 1, 2006, and Aug. 31, 2007, will be eligible to sign in the current signing period. Players must be registered with Major League Baseball in advance to be eligible to sign.