A Dozen International Prospects to Watch As MLB Spring Training Draws Closer

Jackson Chourio of the Milwaukee Brewers looks on from the dugout prior to the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at T-Mobile Park on Saturday, July 8, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

By Julian Guilarte
World Baseball Network

Jackson Chourio signed an eight-year, $82 million deal with the Milwaukee Brewers on Dec. 4, 2023. This is the largest contract in Major League Baseball history for a player who has never played an MLB game. The deal could end up being worth $130 million over 10 years if team options are picked up in 2031 and 2032. There are also escalators in the final three years of his deal based on MVP voting. 

Here’s a list of notable international prospects composed of players that haven’t played in MLB yet, and were signed prior to the 2024 international free agent signing period. 

1. Brewers OF Jackson Chourio – Chourio, 19, was signed out of Venezuela as their top international free agent in 2021 for $1.8 million. He signed as a shortstop, but the Brewers moved him to center field. Chourio is a right-handed hitter. In 2021, he played for the Brewers Dominican Summer League team and had a slash line of .296/.386/.447 in 159 at-bats. He had five home runs, 21 RBI, and eight stolen bases in 2021.

In 2022, Chourio played for the Low-A, High-A, and Double-A affiliates of the Brewers. He had a slash line of .288/.342/.538 across all three levels in 400 at-bats, with 20 home runs, 75 RBI, and 16 stolen bases. 

In 2023, Chourio started the season with the Brewers Double-A affiliate, the Biloxi Shuckers. He played 122 games with them and got a taste of Triple-A playing six games with the Brewers Triple-A affiliate, the Nashville Sounds. His slash line for 2023 was .282/.338/.467 in 531 at-bats with 22 home runs, 91 RBI, and 44 stolen bases. 

Chourio represented the National League in the Futures All-Star Game in Seattle at T-Mobile Park, and will compete for a spot on the Brewers MLB roster in Spring Training.

2. San Diego Padres C Ethan Salas – Salas signed with the Padres as the top international free agent in the 2023 class out of Venezuela for $5.6 million. Salas, 17, is a left-handed hitting catcher and played for the Padres Low-A, High-A, and Double-A affiliates last season. 

Salas’ slashline in 2022 was .248/.331/.421 in 254 at-bats across the three levels with nine home runs, 41 RBI, and five stolen bases. Salas ended his season playing nine games with the Padres Double-A affiliate, the San Antonio Missions.

Defensively, Salas had a fielding percentage of .987 and threw out 17% of runners from behind the plate in 2023. He could also start this season in Double-A with the Missions. 

3. Baltimore Orioles 1B/C Samuel Basallo – Basallo, 19, was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2021 for $1.3 million. The left-handed hitting first baseman and catcher made his professional debut with the Orioles Dominican Summer League team, where he had five home runs and 19 RBI in 134 at-bats in 2021. Basallo has played 127 games at catcher and 51 games at first base in his minor league career. 

In 2023, he started the season with the Orioles’ Low-A affiliate, the Delmarva Shorebirds. He got promoted to their High-A affiliate, the Frederick Keys, on Aug. 1. He ended his season playing four games with their Double-A affiliate, the Bowie Baysox. His combined slash line at the three levels was .313/.402/.551, and he had 20 home runs, 86 RBI, and 12 stolen bases. Basallo could return to the Baysox to start the 2024 season. 

4. Colorado Rockies 2B/SS Adael Amador – Amador, 20, signed with the Rockies during the 2019-20 international signing period out of the Dominican Republic for $1.5 million. He was the Rockies’ top signing in that international class, and is a switch-hitter who plays second base and shortstop

He has played 192 games at shortstop and 36 games at second base after making his professional debut for the Rockies in the Arizona Complex League in 2021. In 2021, his slash line was .299/.394/.445 in 164 at-bats. He had four home runs, 24 RBI and 10 stolen bases. 

In 2022, he spent his whole season with the Rockies Low-A affiliate, the Fresno Grizzlies. Amador played 115 games and his slash line was .292/.415/.445 in 449 at-bats with 15 home runs, 57 RBI, and 26 stolen bases.

Last season, Amador got injured on June 23 playing with the Rockies High-A affiliate, the Spokane Indians, and underwent surgery on his right hamate bone. This limited Amador to 69 games in 2023, but he did finish the season playing 10 games with the Rockies Double-A affiliate, the Hartford Yard Goats. 

His slash line was .287/.380/.495 in 275 at-bats across both levels with 12 home runs, 46 RBI, and 15 stolen bases in 2023. Amador could return to the Yard Goats to begin this season. 

5. New York Mets 2B/SS Luisangel Acuña – Acuña, 21, signed with the Texas Rangers in their 2018 international class out of Venezuela for $425,000. Acuña is the younger brother of Atlanta Braves four-time All-Star outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. The younger Acuña is a right-handed hitter who plays shortstop and second base. He’s played 225 Minor League games at shortstop and 95 games at second base. 

Acuña began his season with the Texas Rangers Double-A affiliate, the Frisco RoughRiders. He was traded to the New York Mets at the trade deadline for eight-time All-Star pitcher Max Scherzer. Acuña helped lead the Mets Double-A affiliate, the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, to the Eastern League finals in 2023. 

Acuña’s combined slash line with both teams was .294/.359/.410 over 510 at-bats with nine home runs, 63 RBI, and 57 stolen bases. Mets general manager David Sterns said that Acuña will start this season with the Mets Triple-A affiliate, the Syracuse Mets, on Jan. 17. 

6. Brewers C Jeferson Quero – Quero, 21, signed with the Brewers in 2019 out of Venezuela for $200,000. Quero is a right-handed hitting catcher and made his professional debut in 2021 with the Brewers rookie-ball team. He had two home runs and eight RBI in 68-at bats in 2021.

 In 2022, Quero split time with the Brewers Low-A and High-A affiliates. His combined slashline was .286/.342/.439 in 367 at-bats with 10 home runs, 57 RBI, and 10 stolen bases.

Quero spent his entire 2023 season with the Brewers Double-A affiliate, the Biloxi Shuckers, where his slash line was .262/.339/.440 in 336 at-bats with 16 home runs, 49 RBI, and five stolen bases. 

Quero also represented the Brewers in the Futures All-Star game. He had a fielding percentage of .988 behind the dish and threw out 35% of base stealers last season. He won the Minor League Gold Glove as a catcher in 2023. 

7. Rockies OF Yanquiel Fernandez – Fernandez signed with the Rockies out of Cuba in 2019 for $295,000. Fernandez, 21, is a left-handed hitting outfielder who made his professional debut with the Rockies in 2021 with their Dominican Summer League team, where had a slash line of .333/.406/.531 in 177 at-bats, six home runs and 34 RBI.

 In 2022, he played in Low-A with the Fresno Grizzlies and had a slashline of .284/.340/.507 in 475 at-bats with 21 home runs and a league-leading 109 RBI. 

In 2023, Fernandez played 56 games with the Hartford Yard Goats and finished the season there. He also played with both of the Rockies Class-A affiliates in 2023. His combined slash line was .265/.313/.486 with 25 home runs and 92 RBI across all three levels. He could return to Hartford to begin 2024. 

8. Los Angeles Dodgers C Diego Cartaya – Cartaya, 22, was the top international prospect in 2018 out of Venezuela and the Dodgers signed him for $2.5 million. The right-handed catcher made his professional debut in 2019 with two of the Dodgers Rookie-level teams, one in the Dominican Republic and one in Arizona. His combined slash line in 49 games was .281/.343/.432 in 185 at-bats, and Cartaya had four home runs and 22 RBI.

In 2023 he spent the entire season with the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate, the Tulsa Drillers. His slash line was .189/.278/.379 in 354 at-bats with had 19 home runs and 57 RBI. Behind the dish, he had a .988 fielding percentage and threw out 19% of base stealers. He could potentially return to the Drillers to start in 2024.  

9. Texas Rangers SS Sebastian Walcott – Walcott signed with the Rangers as their top international prospect out of the Bahamas in 2023 for $3.5 million, the sixth-highest signing bonus in the 2023 class. Walcott, 17, is a right-handed hitting shortstop who made his professional debut with in the Rangers organization this past season. He played for two of the Rangers’ complex-level teams and worked his way up to their Low-A affiliate, the Hickory Crawdads. His combined slash line across all three levels was .246/.335/.471 in 187 at-bats with seven home runs, 24 RBI, and 12 stolen bases. He played nine games with the Crawdads, and could return there to start the 2024 regular season.  

10. Minnesota Twins OF Gabriel Gonzalez – Gonzalez, 20, signed with the Mariners out of Venezuela in the 2020-21 international class for $1.3 million. The right-handed hitting outfielder made his professional debut with the Mariners’ Dominican Summer League team in 2021. His slash line was .287/.371/.521 in 188 at-bats with seven home runs, 36 RBI, and nine stolen bases.

In 2023, Gonzalez split time between the Mariners Class-A affiliates. He ended his season with their High-A affiliate, the Everett AquaSox, playing 43 games, and combined slash line was .298/.361/.476 in 477 at-bats with had 18 home runs, 84 RBI, and 10 stolen bases. 

11. Twins OF Emmanuel Rodriguez – Rodriguez, 20, was the Twins top international signing out of the Dominican Republic in the 2019-20 signing period. Rodriguez signed with the Twins for $2.5 million. Rodriguez is a left-handed hitting outfielder who made his professional debut with the Twins Florida Complex League team in 2021, where he had 10 home runs, 23 RBI, nine stolen bases, and an OPS of .870 in 126 at-bats.

In 2023, Rodriguez spent his whole season with the Twins High-A affiliate, the Cedar Rapid Kernels. His slash line was .240/.400/.463 in 354 at-bats. Rodriguez had 16 home runs, 55 RBI, and 20 stolen bases last season. Rodriguez was traded to the Minnesota Twins for second baseman Jorge Polanco on January 29.   

12. Chicago Cubs OF Kevin Alcantara – Alcantara, 21, was signed by the New York Yankees out of the Dominican Republic in 2018 for $1 million dollars. He played on the Yankees’ rookie-level teams in the Dominican Republic and Florida in 2019 and for the Cubs’ and Yankees’ complex teams in 2021. His slash line in 2019 was .255/.305/.360 in 161 at-bats with one home run, 19 RBI, and five stolen bases. 

In 2021, he played nine games with the Yankees and had one home run, three RBI, and two stolen bases. He was traded to the Cubs at the 2021 trade deadline for first baseman Anthony Rizzo. He finished 2021 with the Cubs Arizona Complex League team, and had four home runs and 21 RBI in 92 at-bats. 

In 2022, Alcantara played with the Cubs Low-A affiliate, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. His slashline was .273/.360/.451 in 428 at-bats with 15 home runs, 85 RBI, and 14 stolen bases. 

In 2023, Alcantara played with the Cubs High-A affiliate, the South Bend Cubs, and their Double-A affiliate, the Tennessee Smokies. His combined slash line across both levels was .284/.345/.466 in 391 at-bats with 13 home runs, 71 RBI, and 15 stolen bases in 2023.

He ended his season playing five games with the Smokies, and could return there to start 2024.

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