2022 Futures Game: Five Names To Watch For Next Year
With the most recent Futures Game in the books, it’s time to set our sights on who might be in the game in 2023, when all-star weekend shifts to Seattle. There’s sure to be a player or two from this year’s draft in the mix, too, but these five players are beginning to bubble at the lowest levels of the minor leagues.
Now, they’re playing their games on back fields in front of very few fans. In a few years, they could be lining up on a big league field preparing to introduce themselves to the world on the biggest stage in a prospect’s career.
Jarlin Susana, RHP, Padres
By far, Susana is the biggest riser in any of the complex leagues—and not just because he’s 6-foot-6. The towering righthander was signed in the most recent international period and skipped the DSL. That simple transaction was the first clue the Padres believed they had a big deal on their hands—most players stay in the DSL their first seasons simply to reduce the tax hit on their signing bonuses.
Sometimes, though, the talent is too loud and a player earns his way stateside. That’s the case for Susana, who has carved on the Arizona backfields with an 0-0, 3.32 mark and 33 strikeouts against nine walks in his first 21.2 innings. Multiple evaluators have noted that Susana, just 18, looks like a seasoned big leaguer out there already. He’s overpowered hitters with a 97-100 mph fastball delivered with shockingly low effort and average movement. Susana backs the fastball with a slider scouts already project as plus or better as well as a changeup in the low 90s he already has feel to throw.
Because he’s a pitcher, the road may be a little rockier as he works through further development of his offspeeds and command of his mix, but Susana’s overall arrows are pointing way up.
Angel Genao, SS, Guardians
Genao inked with Cleveland out of the Dominican Republic in 2021 and posted more walks (39) than strikeouts (29) in the DSL in his pro debut. He’s advanced stateside this year and has continued to impress. Through 21 games, he was slashing .341/.410/.466 with a pair of home runs and 13 RBIs. The Guardians have a horde of middle infield prospects up and down their system, and Genao fits right into the mix. He’s a true shortstop prospect with plus hands, plus instincts, average speed, feel for the barrel from both sides of the plate and sound swing decisions that should help him hit for a mix of both average and power.
Jordy Vargas, RHP, Rockies
At a listed 6-foot-3 and 153 pounds, the 18-year-old Vargas already has projectability in spades. He also has a really loose arm, a low-90s fastball up to 94 and solid feel for his curveball. Scouts already project both of those pitches to be plus-quality offerings as Vargas develops. He has a changeup, too, but it lags well behind his other two pitches. Vargas has big league bloodlines as well—his father, Yorkis Perez, pitched parts of nine seasons in the big leagues. It’s early in his career, but Vargas’ present repertoire and projectability gives him a big up-arrow.
2022 Arizona Complex League Top 10 Prospects
It was a strong year for ACL talent overall, headlined by a talented Guardians shortstop and a flame-throwing Padres pitching prospect who went on to become a key part of one of the biggest blockbuster trades of all time.
Luis Serna, RHP, Yankees
Serna doesn’t have the biggest body in the world, but at a listed 5-foot-11 and 145 pounds, there’s still plenty of room to grow. The righthander signed with the Yankees out of Mexico in May 2021 and has put together an excellent stateside debut this season. Despite his stature, he already sits around 92 mph with his fastball and touches 94. His best offspeed pitch is a changeup that projects to be at least plus, and he throws both a slider and curveball. Serna pounds the zone with all four of his pitches, and scouts note that he shows extremely advanced pitchability.
Anthony Gutierrez, OF, Rangers
Just like Susana, Gutierrez was signed in the most recent international class and has already turned enough heads to find his way to the states. Rangers officials are effusive in their praise of Gutierrez, who has the ingredients to be a true five-tool talent whose plus speed could help him stick in center field in the long run depending how his body builds as he matures. If he gets too big, he could move to right field and be a better than average defender at the position. Opposing scouts believe Gutierrez will need to continue to tighten his swing and his approach in order to tap into his full potential, but the early returns and the aggression with which Texas has moved him are both strong indicators of a big league future.