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Padres sign No. 1 international prospect Salas

5:09 PM UTC

The Padres, under the leadership of general manager A.J. Preller, have been one of the most active and aggressive players on the international market for years.

This year’s international class could be the team’s best ever.

The club announced Sunday it has signed Venezuelan catcher Ethan Salas, the top-ranked prospect on this year’s international Top 50 Prospects list. According to industry sources, it is a $5.6 million deal.

The Padres opened the international signing period with a base signing pool of $5,825,500.

Salas, one of the best catching prospects in recent history, was born to play baseball. His strong skills on the field are matched by his notable family ties, as his grandfather, father and uncle all played professionally. He is the younger brother of Marlins prospect Jose Salas, and the 16-year-old could end up being the best player in the family.

At the plate, the athletic Salas has a good feel for the strike zone with the ability to hit the ball to all fields. He shows good raw power, and it is expected to increase as he develops. He has a nice loose swing and has the ability to hit home runs in batting practice and games.

On defense, Salas shows plus potential because of his soft hands, blocking ability and receiving skills. He has good throwing mechanics and a strong arm, he is already exhibiting leadership skills and he runs well for a catcher.

He is trained by his father, Jose Salas Sr. and Cesar Suarez of CJ Baseball Academy. Suarez is 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 — in practical terms, that means players born between Sept. 1, 2005, and Aug. 31, 2006, will be eligible to sign in the upcoming signing period. Players have to be registered with Major League Baseball in advance in order to be eligible to sign.

Teams are allowed to trade international bonus pool money starting Jan. 15.

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