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Salas, Snelling highlight Padres' Organization All-Stars

San Diego's teen stars usher in the new era headed to Petco Park
October 19, 2023

Each offseason, goes position by position across each organization and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in each farm system. Next up in our 2023 Organization All-Stars series are the San Diego Padres. 2023 organization summary: Triple-A El Paso:

Each offseason, goes position by position across each organization and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in each farm system. Next up in our 2023 Organization All-Stars series are the San Diego Padres.

2023 organization summary:
Triple-A El Paso: 62-88
Double-A San Antonio: 70-68
High-A Fort Wayne: 69-63
Single-A Lake Elsinore: 63-66
ACL Padres: 30-26
DSL Padres Gold: 37-17
DSL Padres Brown: 16-38
Overall record: 347-366 (19th among MLB organizations)
Midseason Farm System Rankings: 9

Padres 2023 Organization All-Stars

C: Ethan Salas (SD No. 1, MLB No. 5)
A/A+/AA: .248/.331/.421, 66 G, 9 HR, 41 RBI, 40 R, 30 BB, 5 SB
Salas earned the Minor League Debut of the Year honor at the MiLB Awards Show. “Advanced” and “mature” are understated descriptions of the 17-year-old backstop. Salas hit another gear in July, batting .366 with 13 extra-base hits to be named California League Player of the Month. He played nine Double-A games before a knee injury ended his season in September. Assistant player development director Mike Daly provided a positive update on Salas’ rehab last week.

1B: Romeo Sanabria
ROK/A: .341/.439/.573, 66 G, 8 HR, 56 RBI, 46 R, 42 BB, 4 SB
The 2022 18th-rounder was named Arizona Complex League MVP after leading the circuit in RBIs (53) and OPS (1.060) in 50 games. Sanabria hit for the cycle on a three-RBI night in June and continued to handle the bat well following a promotion to the California League in August. Sanabria batted .283 with an .858 OPS with the Storm. The former backstop was a full-time first baseman this season.

2B: Marcos Castañon (SD No. 23)
A+/AA: .284/.345/.468, 131 G, 17 HR, 84 RBI, 71 R, 47 BB, 1 SB
Castañon was among the best hitters in the Midwest League, ranking second on the circuit in homers (13), RBIs (58) and hits (83) when he was promoted after the All-Star break. The 24-year-old didn’t produce the same power numbers in San Antonio. But he continued to hit for a higher average and was a key contributor for the Missions in the playoffs. Defensively, he played more second base than third in San Antonio.

3B: Graham Pauley (SD No. 11)
A/A+/AA: .308/.393/.538, 127 G, 23 HR, 94 RBI, 98 R, 60 BB, 22 SB
The 2022 13th-rounder was the only Padres prospect to have a 20-20 season, earning the organization’s Hitting Prospect of the Year honor while leading San Diego’s qualified Minor Leaguers in average, slugging, OPS (.931), hits (148) and extra-base hits (60). Daly made note of the 23-year-old’s swing decisions and ability to get the barrel on difficult pitches. The lefty-swinging Pauley had nearly identical splits against lefties and righties, and he saw time at four different defensive positions.

SS: Jackson Merrill (SD No. 2, MLB No. 9)
A+/AA: .277/.326/.444, 114 G, 15 HR, 64 RBI, 76 R, 35 BB, 15 SB

Merrill made the most of his Spring Training opportunities as the Padres were without three key infielders during the World Baseball Classic. Daly mentioned that the 20-year-old showed an advanced feel for the strike zone and tremendous bat-to-ball skills as he advanced to Double-A. But he suffered a hamstring injury and was shut down before the playoffs. Merrill is an above-average shortstop but saw limited time at first, second and left field this year.

OF: Jakob Marsee (SD No. 12)
A+/AA: .274/.413/.428, 129 G, 16 HR, 46 RBI, 103 R, 98 BB, 46 SB
Marsee led the system in free passes, runs and stolen bases and was the only Minor Leaguer with at least 15 homers, 40 steals and 90 walks this season. He compiled more walks than strikeouts overall and posted a higher average (.286) and OPS (.858) after being promoted to San Antonio. The 2022 sixth-rounder has carried that late-season momentum into a blistering start in the Arizona Fall League.

OF: Samuel Zavala (SD No. 5)
A/A+: .243/.391/.406, 115 G, 14 HR, 77 RBI, 87 R, 94 BB, 21 SB
The Midwest League was not kind to the 19-year-old, who went hitless in his first nine games after his promotion in August and finished with an .078 average for the TinCaps. Prior to that, Zavala was having a special season in Lake Elsinore. Zavala finished 15th among all Minor Leaguers in total walks. And he was one of only three players with at least 90 walks, 85 runs, 75 RBIs and 20 steals.

OF: Tirso Ornelas (SD No. 30)
AA/AAA: .285/.371/.452, 127 G, 15 HR, 75 RBI, 72 R, 67 BB, 8 SB
The 23-year-old earned his first promotion to El Paso after being named Texas League Player of the Month in June, when he batted .378 with six homers and 26 RBIs. He went back to San Antonio in early August just as he began a 21-game hitting streak, during which he hit .407 with five homers, eight doubles, 12 RBIs and 24 runs. Ornelas is currently continuing his season in the Mexican Pacific League.

LHP: Robby Snelling (SD No. 3, MLB No. 60)
A/A+/AA: 11-3, 1.82 ERA, 103 ⅔ IP, 118 K, 34 BB, .216 BAA, 1.12 WHIP
Snelling was also rightfully nominated for Minor League Debut of the Year alongside Salas, who was his batterymate during a hitless performance on Aug. 31. The 19-year-old posted his best numbers – 1.56 ERA with a .190 BAA – at Double-A, and his overall ERA was the lowest among all MiLB pitchers to complete at least 70 frames this season. Daly was impressed by Snelling’s ability to throw strikes and relentlessly work within the zone.

RHP: Ryan Bergert (SD No. 16)
A+/AA: 6-4, 2.73 ERA, 105 ⅔ IP, 126 K, 46 BB, .204 BAA, 1.16 WHIP
Now two years removed from Tommy John surgery, Bergert maintained consistency as he advanced to San Antonio. The 2021 sixth-rounder made nine scoreless appearances overall, including five of his first seven Double-A outings and a three-start stretch at the end of the regular season. Bergert managed to remain effective despite seeing a slight increase in his walk rate from last year.

RP: Carter Loewen
A/A+: 6-2, 2.20 ERA, 49 IP, 58 K, 18 BB, .210 BAA, 1.14 WHIP
The University of Hawaii product, by way of Abbotsford, British Columbia, posted a .190 BAA in the hitter-friendly California League before being promoted. After the TinCaps were eliminated from the playoffs, Loewen actually made his Double-A debut in the postseason, where he retired the side with two strikeouts in his lone inning. The 25-year-old signed with the Padres in 2020 but underwent Tommy John surgery and did not make his professional debut until this year.

Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for