The 2023-2024 winter season is now largely into postseason. Dominican Republic leagues. Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela have all reached the postseason stage, while only the Australian Baseball League is still in regular season play.
So now that we’re in 2024, we can take a look at nine prospects who impressed in winter ball. As the leagues themselves have almost no young pitching talent, this list is heavy on hitters. Most MLB teams do not allow young pitchers to participate in winter baseball anymore.
Rankings of MLB Prospects for 2024
The 10 best prospects for each organization are listed, along with updated scouting profiles that will be in effect by 2024.
Junior Caminero, 3B, Escogido (Rays)
Caminero’s Dominican winter league season was a brief one. Caminero played 21 games with the last one on December 1. Caminero, who mainly played third base, had five home runs in 94 plate appearances. He also had 11 extra-base hits. Caminero’s.333/.362/.575 line was tied for the third-most in the league.
Caminero showed his usual all-field power. Caminero’s five home runs included a monster center-field shot and a line-drive down the right-field line. Caminero, who was considered to be one of the top prospects in baseball at that time, only grew more impressive. Caminero’s stint in winter baseball just reminded us why.
Julio Carreras, SS, Gigantes (Rockies)
Carreras, the wildcard of this list, is a real contender. He’s not a prominent prospect (he’s never cracked the top 15 on the Rockies’ Top 30 Prospects list), and he’s coming off a year where he hit .238/.324/.340 between Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque. Carreras, however, finished second in the Dominican winter League’s rookie of the year vote. Carreras had a batting line of.304/.388/.461, with 17 steals made in 18 attempts, in only 28 games. Carreras had never stolen more than 20 bases during a season in the MiLB, so this was an unexpected number. He also showed better power than he’s shown in the minors.
Jackson Chourio (Brewers), OF Zulia
All of Chourio’s games came early in the Venezuelan winter league season. He didn’t play in a game after Nov. 18. Chourio did have an impact during the 17 games that he played. Chourio’s 75 plate appearances saw him hit.379/.453/.530, with five triples, a double, a homer, and three steals.
Chourio’s first 15 plate performances were a bit slow. He had only three hits. In his final 13 games he had five games with three hits and as many games without a hit (five).
Rafael Marchan (C, Aragua, Phillies)
Marchan made his MLB debut for the Phillies in 2020 and played 20 games for the Phillies in 2021, but he’s spent all of the past two years in the minors when he hasn’t been battling injuries (a hamate fracture cost him two months of the 2023 season). Marchan’s struggle to establish himself in Venezuela has been much less this winter.
In 133 plate performances, he batted.333/.436/.546 and had 15 extra base hits. He also had more walks (16), than strikeouts (11), in his 133 plate presentations. Marchan has become a star of the winter ball. Last winter, he also batted.361 with La Guaira.
Brayan Rocchio, SS, La Guaira (Guardians)
Rocchio is getting ready to turn 23, but he’s already a long-term fixture up the middle for La Guaira in the Venezuelan winter league. Rocchio’s 77 plate appearances weren’t enough to qualify him for the batting title, but he hit .377/.457/.541 with seven doubles, a home run and six walks compared to eight strikeouts. Rocchio is also a reliable shortstop who plays with a smooth fielding style for La Guaira.
Hector Rodriguez, OF, Escogido (Reds)
Rodriguez was named LIDOM rookie. He had 17 extra-bases hits, including four triples and a league best.309/.344/.487.
Rodriguez has hit everywhere he’s gone. He’s a career .304/.355/.501 minor league hitter. Once considered a speedster, Rodriguez swiped four bags in seven tries in winter ball, and he’s more and more looking like a bat-first outfielder who can run rather than a speedster who can hit a little.
Rodriguez’s approach is exceptionally aggressive. Synergy Sports reported that Rodriguez struck 60% of the pitches he faced in winter ball. But as of yet, Rodriguez’s swing-at-everything approach has worked for him. Maybe it will eventually derail him, but so far, it hasn’t.
Ronny Simon, 2B/SS, Toros Del Este (Rays)
Simon played in the Dominican Republic Professional Baseball League for the first time. He has been with the Toros during each of the last three winter seasons. Simon was the league’s top hitter with a league-leading.323 average. He also ranked first in the league for on-base percentage (.432). He was also tied with the third-most home runs in the league for his five.
Simon was promoted to Triple-A Durham by the Rays for 2023. In an organization with many middle infielders at the top of their game, Simon has some work ahead to get to the majors. But he’s proving himself to be a fairly versatile infielder. He also has solid power and can steal bases.
Zac Veen is an OF for the Rockies, Ponce.
We’re dealing with the smallest of small samples with Veen. His stint in the Puerto Rican Winter League lasted nine games. Veen hit hard in nine games. Veen, who played left field for the Royals, hit.429/.478/.619. It’s hard to put too much weight in a nine-game sample, but it’s worth highlighting for a prospect whose 2023 season was cut short by a significant wrist injury.
Cole Winn is a RHP at Caguas for the Rangers.
Winn’s example is one of the rarest examples of a pitching talent who has pitched in more than just a few innings of winter ball. Winn had just finished a season that was largely forgotten, 9-8 and 7.22 with Triple-A Round Rock. He made six starts with the Puerto Rican winter League, going 2-0 with 2.63. There were 16 hits allowed, 10 walkers, and 24 strikes in 24 innings. Winn’s 93-94 mph fastball and power slider generally worked well in his brief winter ball stint, which offers hope for a 2024 turnaround.
The post Nine MLB Prospects who Started In Winter Ball first appeared on College Baseball. MLB Draft. Prospects. Baseball America.