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Spring Training: International Players to Watch in MLB’s American League Central

 Leif Skodnick  |    Feb 21st, 2024 4:00pm EST

Could Oscar Colas be the next big Cuban star for the Chicago White Sox? (Photo by Duane Burleson/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 Central team to watch out for during spring training in Major League Baseball.

Minnesota Twins (2023 Record: 87-75, 1st in AL Central)  

Yunior Severino, 2B, Dominican Republic – Severino has a greater chance of making the Opening Day roster for the Twins after a trade that sent infielder Jorge Polanco to the Seattle Mariners. The 24-year-old smashed 24 home runs with a .925 OPS with Double-A Wichita in 2023, and an excellent first half of the minor league season could help him make his MLB debut late in the season. Severino also played nine games for the Tigres del Licey during the 2023-24 LIDOM season but hit .136 against superior pitching than the lower minor leagues.  (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

Edouard Julien, 2B, Canada – Julien looks to prove his skill set further after finishing seventh in the 2023 American League Rookie of the Year voting. He hit 16 home runs last season but struck out in 31.4 percent of his 408 plate appearances. At only 24 years old, Julien should be a mainstay in the Twins’ lineup for the rest of the decade and is not a free agent until 2030. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Detroit Tigers (2023 Record: 78-84, 2nd in AL Central)  

Miguel Diaz, RHP, Dominican Republic – Diaz has not appeared in more than 31 games in an MLB season since his debut with the San Diego Padres in 2017, but the strikeout numbers have always been impressive. He fanned 16 in 14 innings with the Tigers last year and 73 in 57 with Triple-A Toledo. After posting a 0.64 ERA in 2023, spring training 2024 is his time to show Detroit he is worthy of a full-time role in the bullpen.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Eliezer Alfonzo, C, Venezuela – The 24-year-old has never played above Double-A in the minor leagues, but a strong showing this winter with the Leones del Caracas in Liga Venezolana de Beisbol Profesional may have caught the attention of the Tigers front office. Alfonzo hit .377 with just four strikeouts in 73 plate appearances, impressive hitting numbers for a catcher. As a non-roster invite, Alfonzo is bidding for the starting catcher role with Double-A Erie.  

Cleveland Guardians (2023 Record: 76-86, 3rd in AL Central)  

Estevan Florial, CF, Dominican Republic – The 26-year-old never lived up to expectations in the New York Yankees minor league system and was shipped to Cleveland on Dec. 26. Florial posted below-average numbers at the plate in 48 MLB games with New York, hitting .209 with a 71 OPS+, indicating he was 29 percent worse than the average big league hitter. With Cleveland, the left-handed hitter will likely see more MLB playing time, significantly if center fielder Myles Straw cannot improve on his dreadful .597 OPS from last season. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

Gabriel Arias, SS, Venezuela – Arias will be competing for the Guardians’ starting shortstop job during spring training with Brayan Rocchio, also from Venezuela. He played 122 games last MLB season, hitting 10 home runs with a .628 OPS in 345 plate appearances. At just 23 years old, Arias still has much to prove on offense but has shown he has a very capable glove at shortstop.  (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)

Chicago White Sox (2023 Record: 61-101, 4th in AL Central)  

Oscar Colas, OF, Cuba – It’s well known on the South side of Chicago that Luis Robert Jr. is the best White Sox player from Cuba, but there’s reason to be excited about Colas. The lefty spurt through the minor leagues, hitting .314 with 23 home runs across three levels in 2022. 2024 will be his first full season in MLB, and White Sox fans could probably use another star to root for. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Deivi Garcia, RHP, Dominican Republic – Once a top prospect with the New York Yankees, Garcia has a legitimate chance to be a mainstay in the White Sox bullpen this year. Still just 24 years old, he’s struggled with command, walking eight hitters in 9.1 innings in 2023 for Chicago. A decent showing in spring training could sway manager Pedro Grifol to use him as a spot starter. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

Kansas City Royals (2023 Record: 56-105, 5th in AL Central)  

Maikel Garcia, 3B, Venezuela – Garcia was a singles machine in 2023, but he only recorded 28 extra-base hits in his 515 plate appearances. Regardless, he stole 23 bases and is versatile, playing every infield position in his MLB career besides first base and catcher. Garcia was one of the best players on a horrible Kansas City team last year and should be on a more competitive one again. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

MJ Melendez, OF, C, Puerto Rico – The days of Melendez being a full-time catcher seem to be over, as he logged just 68.2 innings behind the plate in 2023. Like Garcia, Melendez is not the most significant power threat, but Baseball Reference projects him to hit 17 home runs. The Royal’s acquisition of power-hitting right fielder Hunter Renfroe may take some plate appearances away from Melendez, but he is also seven years younger than Renfroe. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)