2020-21 MLB International Reviews: Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers had a Venezuelan-heavy international signing class in 2019, including outfielders Hedbert Perez and Luis Medina and catcher Jeferson Quero. Their latest signing class has more mid-range signings from the Dominican Republic, but three Venezuelan shortstops lead the way at the head of the group.
Top Of The Class
The Brewers signed three high-profile shortstop prospects from Venezuela, with Jackson Bryan Chourio the centerpiece of the class. Chourio has a lean, athletic 6-foot-1 frame with exciting tools now and physical projection for them to get better with strength gains. He has quick-twitch explosion that shows up in his bat speed, helping him drive the ball with surprising carry off his bat for a wiry teenager, especially to the opposite field. He drives the ball with impact already and could grow into plus power, with a mature approach for his age with his ability to recognize offspeed, use the whole field and make consistent contact in games. He's at least a plus runner now, making him a potential power/speed threat in the middle of the diamond. Chourio has time at shortstop and center field, with the Brewers planning to develop him as a shortstop. His offensive game is ahead of his defense, so he could still end up in center field. Chourio is represented by Cesar Suarez.
Gregory Barrios was one of the best defensive shortstops in the 2020 class. He's a Venezuelan infielder who doesn't have the same quick-twitch burst as Chourio, but he's a smooth, instinctive defender who is light on his feet with good body control, soft hands and fluid actions. An average runner, Barrios has a good internal clock, especially for his age, with a strong arm that projects to be above-average at physical maturity. He has added strength over the last couple of years to his 6-foot-1 frame with some more physical projection to dream on and grow his current gap power. He's a switch-hitter who is better from the right side, with a sharp eye for the strike zone, good bat-to-ball skills and a line-drive approach. Barrios trained at the Gold Prospect Academy with Guillermo Quintero.
The third prominent Venezuelan shortstop in the Brewers' class is Daniel Guilarte, who trained at the Dream Team Prospect Academy. He's a bit more physically advanced right now compared to Gregory Barrios but with good strength projection remaining in his wiry 6-foot-1, 165-pound frame. His tools have already started to trend up over the past year, as he's now running plus and flashing a plus arm with the defensive actions to stay at shortstop. Guilarte has good bat-to-ball skills and a solid idea of the strike zone for his age. He has the bat speed and strength projection to grow into more than his present gap power, though his swing is geared more for low line drives than loft.
Names To Know
Hendry Mendez, OF, Dominican Republic: When scouts were watching Mendez in the Dominican Prospect League, he was a 5-foot-11 outfielder with uneven performance in games. Since then he has grown to 6-foot-3, 180 pounds with a promising bat from the left side. Scouts highest on Mendez liked his pure hitting ability, bat speed and power now with the physical projection for more juice as he fills out. He's around an average runner with an average arm, likely slowing down as he gains weight to fit on a corner. Mendez trained with Marino Sierra.
Ney Serrano, SS, Dominican Republic: Serrano has a lively 6-foot frame and fields his position comfortably at shortstop. He has a quick bat and a fairly sound stroke from the right side with the strength projection to grow his current gap power. He trained with Felix Taveras.
Manuel Vargas, OF, Dominican Republic: Vargas, who trained with Rudy Santin, makes a lot of contact with an unconventional swing, performing well in games with gap power. He's around an average runner with good outfield instincts, with a chance to start in center field but most likely gravitating to a corner.
Jonatan Guzman, SS, Dominican Republic: A high-energy player who trained with Cachaza, Guzman has a lively 6-foot-1, 155-pound frame with quick-twitch athleticism. He's not a burner but the burst in his first step reads off the bat give him good range along with a strong arm to throw from different angles, with a chance to stay at shortstop if he stays lean and athletic. He's a line-drive hitter with gap power and an aggressive offensive approach.
Luis Castillo, OF, Dominican Republic: Castillo is a lefthanded corner outfielder with a compact 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame that doesn't have a ton of physical projection remaining, but he makes hard contact when he connects on the sweet spot. He showed the ability to draw walks but with strikeouts playing in games in the Dominican Prospect League, though at other times he showed more feel for hitting. He's a below-average runner with the arm for right field. Castillo trained at the Zorrilla Baseball Academy.
Jadher Areinamo, SS, Venezuela: Areinamo is 5-foot-9 and lacks the loud tools to stand out in a workout, but he's often the smartest baseball player on the field with excellent bat control that leads to a high contact rate and good offensive performance in games. Areinamo doesn't have big power or speed, relying on his ability to put the ball in play and his all-around instincts, with a profile that could have him move around the infield.
Duncan Garcia came to baseball later than most of his peers in the Dominican Republic, so his game skills are still on the raw side, but he's an athletic 6-foot-2 outfielder with plus-plus speed, a fast bat and a strong arm, giving him a chance for a power/speed combination of everything comes together. He trained with Hazim.