17-year-old Padres phenom collects first pro hit at Single-A

April 25th, 2024

In recent years, the Padres have shown they are not afraid to push their top prospects. For the second straight season, they are starting a 17-year-old No. 1 international prospect at Single-A Lake Elsinore rather than in rookie ball, and in turn, challenging him from the moment he enters the organization.

Last year, they did this with Ethan Salas, to great success; he is now the game’s No. 7 overall prospect per MLB Pipeline. This year, they’re doing it with Leodalis De Vries -- and he’s already seeing results, too.

San Diego’s fifth-ranked prospect and No. 92 overall per MLB Pipeline, De Vries collected his first professional hit as part of a big game in Lake Elsinore's 10-8 loss to Rancho Cucamonga on Wednesday at LoanMart Field. De Vries notched two hits, scored a run and reached base three times in his second pro contest, after going hitless in his debut on Tuesday.

Starting at shortstop and batting third in the Storm’s lineup, De Vries sprayed a single in his first at-bat, then stole second but was stranded there. He added a double in his next at-bat, in the third, and walked and scored a run in his final at-bat of the day.

It was just one game, but it was reflective of the kind of all-around game the Padres envision ultimately developing in De Vries, who signed for $4.2 million in January out of the Dominican Republic. The tall, athletic, switch-hitting shortstop is a former basketball player with above-average tools across the board, including plus speed and an advanced approach at the plate. His pitch recognition and contact skills were big drivers in his assignment to Single-A to begin the year, after heading stateside for Spring Training and showing well in San Diego’s inaugural Spring Breakout game.

Both are atypical assignments for a 17-year-old. But De Vries is no average 17-year old. And he doesn’t turn 18 until October, which means he’ll play this entire season -- his first in pro ball -- at 17.

That’s what is called the fast track to San Diego.