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Spring Training: International Players to Watch in Major League Baseball’s American League East

 Leif Skodnick  |    Feb 20th, 2024 4:19pm EST

Masataka Yoshida has a lot to prove to Boston Red Sox fans in 2024. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network

Spring training is underway, and in every Major League camp, there are players from around the world trying to make their mark.

Here are two international players from each American League East team to watch out for during spring training in Major League Baseball.

Baltimore Orioles (2023 Record: 101-61, 1st in AL East)

Wandisson Charles, RHP, Dominican Republic – Charles has yet to crack an MLB roster and hopes to leave a good impression with the Orioles or another club during spring training. He is a tall, right-handed pitcher, sized at six foot four, 250 pounds. Charles posted a 5.70 ERA in Triple-A Norfolk last season but struck out 40 in 30 innings. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Jorge Mateo, SS, Dominican Republic – Mateo has always possessed speed and excellent defensive skills, but it is time to improve with the bat. He finished 2023 with a .607 OPS and 32 stolen bases. To maintain consistent playing time, Mateo has much to prove on offense during spring training and in the first few months of the regular season. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Tampa Bay Rays (2023 Record: 99-63, 2nd in AL East)

Naoyuki Uwasawa, RHP, Japan – Uwasawa signed a minor league deal with the Rays in January and will showcase his abilities during spring training in hopes of making the Major League club. Regardless, the former Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighter in Nippon Professional Baseball should make his MLB debut sometime this season. Uwasawa throws a fastball in the low 90s but uses multiple offspeed pitches to keep hitters off balance. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Junior Caminero, 3B, Dominican Republic – Caminero was the Rays’ No. 1 ranked prospect in 2023 according to MLB Pipeline and should split time at third base with Curtis Mead from Australia. He is 20 years old and only played in seven games in MLB last season. Caminero portrayed great power with High-A Bowling Green and Triple-A Durham, blasting 31 home runs. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Toronto Blue Jays (2023 Record: 89-73, 3rd in AL East)

Paolo Espino, RHP, Panama – Espino is on the wrong side of 35 and is a non-roster invite to spring training, but could make the Blue Jays Opening Day roster as a long reliever. He may not strike out many hitters, but Espino has always had a knack for inducing ground balls, currently holding a 37.2 percent ground ball rate for his career. Espino is not the flashiest pitcher on the mound, but he is reliable and can eat innings. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Alejandro Kirk, C, Mexico – The fan favorite in Toronto is entering his fifth season in MLB with the Blue Jays after playing just 151 games in minor league baseball. Speed will never be a strength for Kirk, but he has enough pop in his bat to consistently keep him in the starting lineup. If the 25-year-old from Tijuana produces on offense during spring training, the Blue Jays’ primary focus will be to continue to improve his defensive skills. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

New York Yankees (2023 Record: 82-80, 4th in AL East)

J.C. Escarra, 1B, C, Cuba/USA – The left-handed hitter recently played in the Caribbean Series in Miami, with the Criollos de Caguas from Puerto Rico, hitting .238 in six games. He reached Triple-A Norfolk with the Baltimore Orioles in 2021 but hit just .225 in 58 games. Escarra gives New York flexibility and depth at the catcher’s position if left-handed hitters Austin Wells or Ben Rortvedt suffer injuries. He spent most of the 2023 season with Tijuana and Union Laguna in the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol. (Photo by Jos Alvarez/Jam Media/Getty Images)

Jorbit Vivas, 2B, Venezuela – Vivas was traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Yankees in early December after having one of his better offensive seasons in minor league baseball with Double-A Tulsa last year. He hit 12 home runs in 109 games but also showed plenty of speed, swiping 21 bags in 25 attempts. With Gleyber Torres entering free agency at the end of the year, Vivas will use 2024 as an audition to earn an Opening Day roster spot in 2025. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Boston Red Sox (2023 Record: 78-84, 5th in AL East)

Ceddanne Rafaela, CF, SS, Curacao – Rafaela appeared to have the rawest talent of any position player to debut for Boston last season in a small sample size of 28 games. He used the whole field at the plate, sending 30.4 percent of all balls put into play to the opposite field, but struck out at a 31.5 percent clip, 8.8 percent higher than the league average. With the Red Sox trade for young shortstop Vaughn Grissom, Rafaela may continue to play more innings in the outfield than in the middle infield. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Masataka Yoshida, LF, DH, Japan – All eyes will be on Yoshida after a rather unimpressive second half of the 2023 season. He hit just .254 with 45 strikeouts and seven walks but finished the season with a 109 OPS+, indicating he was nine percent better than the league-average hitter. Not quite the results the $90 million man probably wanted, but he still has four years remaining on his contract, providing both contact and decent power as a 30-year-old left-handed hitter. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)