17-year-old De Vries off to hot start after 4-RBI night

MLB's No. 1 international prospect in '24 drives in first runs as a pro

April 26th, 2024

It’s often said to not let a shooter on the basketball court see one go through the net, lest they heat up and find their rhythm.

That might be an apt analogy for Leodalis De Vries, the No. 1 international prospect in the 2024 class, who excelled on the basketball court as a youngster, having watched his father play for the Dominican Republic national team. After going hitless in his pro debut Tuesday, the 17-year-old has begun to percolate at the dish for Single-A Lake Elsinore.

De Vries got hits Nos. 1 and 2 out of the way Wednesday. He added RBIs No. 1-4 on Thursday in an all-around showcase of his upside, one which has the Padres convinced that sending the preternaturally gifted teen to full-season ball out of the gate is a prescient move.

Across the board, all five of De Vries’ tools rank as at least average. But the one that jumps off the page initially is his speed, and he got to showcase his wheels early on in the Storm’s eventual 12-10 loss to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Dodgers). Sizzling a ball down the right-field line in the third inning, MLB’s No. 92 prospect kicked off a mad dash around the bases that plated a pair and he cruised into third with a triple with his 60-grade run tool.

Maybe somewhat understandably, it hasn’t all been line drives and high-fives for the Padres' No. 5 prospect. De Vries struck out three times Thursday. In his final at-bat in the eighth, he slugged a deep drive to right field, and presumably he expected it to fly deep into the night beyond LoanMart Field. He was held to just a two-RBI single when it caromed off the wall.

Before he so much as dug into the batter’s box as a pro, De Vries entered MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list. He appeared in the club’s Spring Breakout game in March, reaching base three times and collecting an RBI single. Three games into his pro career, he has four hits (two for extra bases) and four RBIs. Again, all at just 17 years old.

"Leo is a talented player who is also very intelligent," Padres vice president of player development Ryley Westman told MLB.com’s Sam Dykstra. "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 learning curve for any player getting his first taste of full-season ball and playing stateside figures to be steep. But San Diego isn’t blinking in the face of expectations or pushback concerning De Vries. “Push the gifted” was part of the club’s ethos last year when it assigned current top prospect Ethan Salas (MLB's No. 7 overall) to Lake Elsinore in a similar fashion, and then brought him as high as Double-A San Antonio for the club’s Texas League postseason push.

"That was my mentality, basically watching and thinking, 'If that's how they're treating him and elevating him, then hopefully they can do the same with me,'" De Vries said in March of watching how the Padres handled Salas last season. "That's why I work hard, to be able to put myself in that position."

But future plans for De Vries aren't of concern at the moment. For now, he’s merely the same age as many high school seniors, and if first impressions are anything to read into, he’s comfortably settling in and raking against pro pitching.