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

 Leif Skodnick  |    Feb 22nd, 2024 4:09pm EST

Miguel Sanó will try and resurrect his career with the Los Angeles Angels in 2024. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)

By Conor Liguori  
World Baseball Network  

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

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

Houston Astros (2023 Record: 90-72, 1st in AL West)  

Yainer Diaz, C, Dominican Republic – Diaz was one of the best catchers in the American League last season despite being a rookie on one of the best teams in baseball. He single-handedly took the starting job out of the hands of Martin Maldonado, one of the clubhouse’s most respected players. If he can continue to hit 20-plus home runs and work well with the Astros’ pitching staff, he should have no problem securing the full-time catcher role out of MLB camp this spring. (Photo by Rich Storry/Getty Images)

Luis Garcia, RHP, Venezuela – Garcia made just six starts in 2023 before undergoing Tommy John surgery on his elbow in May. When healthy, he is as reliable as starting pitchers come and strikes out 9.3 hitters per nine innings in his four-year career. According to NBC Sports, Garcia targets a midseason return in 2024, but Astros fans will keep close track of his progress during the spring. (Photo by Rich Storry/Getty Images) 

Texas Rangers (2023 Record: 90-72, 2nd in AL West)  

Diego Castillo, RHP, Dominican Republic – Castillo, a non-roster invite, is just a few years removed from being one of MLB’s more steady backend relievers. He has an outside chance of making the Opening Day roster for the 2023 World Series champions if not for another team needing bullpen arms. Castillo struggled in just eight games for the Seattle Mariners last season, posting a 6.23 ERA and walking seven in 8.2 innings. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) 

Ezequiel Duran, 3B, SS, Dominican Republic – Now that he’s 24, the Rangers’ future plans for Duran are up in the air. A good showing in spring training could boost his playing time during the regular season, but he will always be the backup to Josh Jung or Corey Seager if he is with Texas. Duran may not be a trade candidate, but his career .725 OPS and 17 home runs per 162-game average could be helpful in many lineups around the league. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) 

Seattle Mariners (2023 Record: 88-74, 3rd in AL West)  

Andres Munoz, RHP, Mexico – A nasty slider and a 100 mph fastball is a deadly combination, and one that Munoz has in his arsenal. He has been one of the best set-up men in MLB in his brief four-year career with the Mariners, and there are no signs of regression anytime soon. With Paul Sewald now with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Munoz has a tremendous chance to be Seattle’s closer come opening day. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) 

Jorge Polanco, 2B, Dominican Republic – Polanco was dealt to the Mariners from the Minnesota Twins on Jan. 30 and immediately slots in as their everyday second baseman. The one-time All-Star has yet to post an OPS+ below 100 since the 60-game 2020 season, shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now 30 years old, Polanco brings plenty of postseason experience to a team that has qualified for the playoffs just once in the last 22 years.  (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)

Los Angeles Angels (2023 Record: 73-89, 4th in AL West)  

Miguel Sano, 3B, Dominican Republic – Once a slugger with the Twins, Sano’s MLB career turned for the worse last season after lingering knee injuries limited him to 71 plate appearances. During the 2023-24 LIDOM season with the Estrellas Orientales, Sano hit .225 with two home runs in 27 games. Although not eye-popping numbers, keeping his body and swing in shape during the winter may pay dividends for him in spring training camp with the Angels. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)

Jose Suarez, LHP, Venezuela – Suarez has played five seasons with the Angels and still has yet to be a regular in the starting rotation, often pitching long relief out of the bullpen or making spot starts. He threw seven different pitches last season, including a changeup he utilized 26.8% of the time. After appearing in just 11 games last year for Los Angeles, an impressive spring training could help Suarez earn more time on the mound for a team looking to return to the postseason for the first time since 2014. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Oakland Athletics (2023 Record: 50-112, 5th in AL West)  

Miguel Andujar, OF, Dominican Republic – Known as the player who finished second behind Shohei Ohtani in the 2018 American League Rookie of the Year race, Andujar’s career has been drastically different than that of the two-time MVP. Andujar hit 27 home runs in 2018, but has not appeared in more than 45 games in an MLB season since due to injuries. Now, with Oakland, the 28-year-old has a golden opportunity to win the starting job in left field and revitalize his career with consistent plate appearances. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Jordan Diaz, 2B, 3B, Colombia –  It remains to be seen if Diaz is an everyday option for the A’s, given his .637 OPS in 90 games last season. He’s shown spurts of power, including a three-homer game on May. 9, 2023, against the New York Yankees. The Athletics project to finish at the bottom of the American League again, but Diaz could be a bright spot in a rather gloomy organization. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)