22 DSL Prospects Who Could Make Noise Stateside In 2024


Image credit: Dodgers prospect Joendry Vargas (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

In 2023, some of the game’s top prospects began to blossom on the backfields of the Florida and Arizona Complex Leagues. 

Yankees prospects Roderick Arias and Henry Lalane showed off dynamic tool sets in Tampa, while Tampa Bay’s Santiago Suarez and Houston’s Luis Baez did the same in Port Charlotte and West Palm Beach, respectively. 

Two-thousand miles away, Arizona’s Jansel Luis, the Angels Dario Laverde and Rangers prospect Echedry Vargas were standing out among the ACL’s best and working their way into their teams’ Top 30 prospects

The common thread among all seven of those players? Each spent the prior season in the Dominican Summer League, where international players typically spend all of their first professional season. 

There are exceptions, of course. Rangers prospects Anthony Gutierrez and Sebastian Walcott each made it stateside in their debut season, and Padres catcher Ethan Salas jumped both the DSL and the ACL en route to an official pro debut in Low-A as a 16-year-old. 

By and large, though, the DSL is where the game’s top international talents typically start to percolate. The 2023 season was no exception. After conversations with scouts, here is a list of players who could make big-time noise in their stateside debuts this spring. 

This is not a ranking, and the players are listed alphabetically.

Jerson Alejandro, RHP, Yankees

Alejandro was the Yankees’ second highest-profile signing in the 2023 international class and spent his first season in the DSL. He pitched through an issue with his fingernail, which somewhat hampered his command. Still, he brought his fastball up to 98 mph and showed a nasty changeup that could get to plus as he develops. 

Rayner Arias, OF, Giants

Arias broke his wrist trying to make a diving catch in late June, ending his season after just 16 games. He was absolutely gangbusters in that brief sample, including an OPS of 1.332, a dozen extra-base hits (half of his season total) and a 90th percentile exit velocity bumping 101 mph. He showed patience and impact as well as a chance to stick in center field thanks to 55-grade speed. Even if he moves over to a corner, Arias should have more than enough bat to fit the profile. 

Starlyn Caba, SS, Phillies

Caba’s season in the DSL was cut short by an elbow injury that required surgery, but not before he became one of the buzziest players in the league. He’s an outstanding defender who could be a plus gloveman in the big leagues, and he made a ton of contact as well. His in-zone miss rate of 4.2% stands out in any league. He still has to gain strength, but he has the potential to be a plus hitter who sticks at shortstop and can post double-digit home runs. 

Yoeilin Cespedes, SS, Red Sox

Signed for $1.4 million in the international class that opened on Jan. 15, 2023, Cespedes spent his first pro season showing off a varied array of gifts. The Dominican infielder used outstanding bat speed to produce 15 doubles, six home runs and a 90th percentile exit velocity of 101 mph. Cespedes might move to second base as he matures, but an offensive skill set that includes the potential for above-average hittability and power would ease such a shift. Evaluators lauded Cespedes for his pitch recognition and swing decisions. 

Branny De Oleo, SS, Mets

Signed for just $10,000, de Oleo caught scouts’ attention thanks to a combination of mostly 50- and 55-grade tools, including above-average marks for his fielding and throwing arm. He’s an athletic player who hits the ball harder than one would expect for a player who isn’t particularly thickly built. His combination of defense and potential impact gives him moderate upside.

Alfredo Duno, C, Reds

Among catchers in the 2023 international signing class, Duno ranked second only to Padres phenom Ethan Salas. In the DSL, Duno reinforced that reputation by hitting .303/.451/.493 with six home runs. Elbow soreness limited him to DH duties all year. At the plate, he’s a physical presence who shows big bat speed and plus raw power to go with excellent swing decisions. Before his elbow started barking, Duno showed plus arm strength, soft hands and solid receiving skills. At his peak he could hit 20 or more bombs annually.

Welbyn Francisca, SS, Guardians

Francisca has already earned one of the better nicknames in the sport: Phosphorus. He came about that moniker by showing an excellent feel to hit that includes outstanding bat-to-ball skills and budding power that could grow as he adds strength. Francisca might move to second base in the long run, but he has the offensive gifts to profile at second base if that’s his final destination. He looks like the latest in Cleveland’s long line of intriguing middle infield prospects.

Joshua Liranzo, 3B, Orioles

The brother of Dodgers masher Thayron Liranzo, Josue opened eyes on Baltimore’s DSL club. He drew plenty of walks but still needs to tighten his command of the strike zone, especially late in counts. He’s a superb defender at third base and has enough range to play shortstop if needed. He’s got big-time power too and could provide thump and standout defense at the hot corner.

Jeter Martinez, RHP, Mariners

Martinez had a fantastic season in the DSL, where he allowed just 17 hits in 47 innings while striking out 55 and issuing 20 walks. The highlight of Martinez’s season came on July 20, when he threw the first six innings of his team’s no-hitter over Astros Blue. Martinez struck out eight, walked one and hit a batter before yielding to the bullpen. Scouts see an outstanding combination of athleticism, projection and present stuff, including a fastball that has crept into the mid 90s already, a pair of breaking balls and a changeup. He has the ceiling of at least a mid-rotation starter. 

Brando Mayea, OF, Yankees

Mayea was the centerpiece of the Yankees international signing class for the period that opened on Jan. 15, 2023. In his debut season, the Cuban-born outfielder showed superb bat-to-ball skills, exit velocities up to 108 mph and double-plus speed that should help him stick in center field. Mayea’s biggest issue in 2023 involved his batted-ball profile. Nearly 60% of his contact came on grounders. Fixing that issue would help him get the most out of his tool set.  

Javier Mogollon, 2B, White Sox

Mogollon was arguably the biggest pop-up prospect in the White Sox’s system in 2023. The Venezuelan infielder was a low-dollar signing in the 2023 international class and put forth an outstanding debut season in the DSL that included a .999 OPS and 10 home runs. Mogollon is a twitchy athlete with the potential for 50s and 55s all across his scouting card and a plus arm that could handle stints at shortstop. He’s also already shown the knack for pulling balls hard and in the air. 

Jose Monzon, SS, Rays

At 17 years old, Monzon showed a quick, powerful swing from the left side that helped him swat five home runs and 12 extra-base hits total in 46 games. He also finished the year with more walks (35) than strikeouts (30). His offensive profile alone is enough to make him a prospect, but if he can stick at shortstop his ceiling will take a huge jump.

Braylin Morel, OF, Rangers

Morel was a five-figure signing in the international class that opened in January 2023. He responded by posting a 1.061 OPS that included seven home runs and 32 total extra-base hits, the most in the DSL since 2019. Morel needs to cut down a touch on his miss rates to access his potentially plus power more often and against better pitching. He also has to improve his defense to avoid a potential move to first base. 

Ramon Ramirez, C, Royals

Kansas City signed Ramirez out of Venezuela in 2023 for a five-figure bonus that is already looking wise. The brawny backstop torched the DSL by producing a .344/.440/.615 slash line with eight home runs over 41 games. Beyond his counting numbers, Ramirez also finished the year with a 90th percentile exit velocity of 102 mph. He’s got a ways to go defensively, but he has a strong arm and could be an average big league catcher one day. The Royals showed their faith in Ramirez by bringing him stateside for their fall instructional league program. 

Jeremy Rodriguez, SS, Mets

Rodriguez came to the Mets from the D-backs in the trade that sent Tommy Pham to Arizona at last summer’s trade deadline. He earned the highest bonus in Arizona’s international signing class as well. The Dominican infielder earned 50s and 55s across his scouting card everywhere outside of speed, which projects as only fringe-average. His .878 OPS was among the best in the league for 17U shortstops and he has excellent bat speed as well. Now, he must get strong enough to bump up what were paltry exit velocity numbers.

Yophery Rodriguez, OF, Brewers

The Brewers’ have done spectacularly in recent years of mining gems in their international classes. Chief among them is Jackson Chourio—the No. 2 prospect in the game—and he’s complemented by righthander Abner Uribe, catcher Jeferson Quero, outfielder Luis Lara and Rodriguez, who might be the next big Milwaukee prospect to pop. The Dominican outfielder boasts average or better tools across the board and produced 21 extra-base hits in his pro debut. His above-average power could amplify if he adds more loft to his swing.

Jonathan Russell, RHP, Rays

Russell signed with Tampa Bay in May of 2023 and spent his first pro season as one of the more intriguing arms on the Rays’ DSL club. The righthander struck out 34 in 36 innings and brought his fastball up to 96 mph while showing a feel for two breaking balls. Scouts also noted a blend of athleticism and remaining projection that could give Russell strong upside if he can improve his command. 

Samuel Sanchez, RHP, Dodgers

Sanchez didn’t throw much during the regular season, but scouts who saw him believe his combination of present stuff and aggressiveness in the strike zone could give him a future in a big league rotation. He backs his fastball, which sits around 91-94 mph, with a budding curveball and a firm changeup, and all his pitches are thrown with a loose, quick arm.

Eduardo Tait, C, Phillies

When it came to uber-young catching talent, the Padres’ Ethan Salas stole the show all year long. Tait, however, was no slouch. The Panama native spent most of the season as a 16-year-old and still showed out in the DSL. He produced a .917 OPS with 12 doubles and three home runs and helped lead his team to the league championship series. He’s got potentially plus power, which showed up in a 90th percentile exit velocity of nearly 93 mph. It’s early, but he has above-average arm strength and could be a 50-grade catcher.

Joendry Vargas, SS, Dodgers

After signing for more than $2 million in 2023, Vargas went to work quickly and made an immediate impact. His .952 OPS and seven home runs helped lead his club to a 42-11 record and eventually the league championship. Vargas has a tall, projectable frame and has already shortened his stroke enough to tap into his natural feel for the barrel. Scouts who saw him believe Vargas not only has a chance to stick at shortstop but could hit in the middle of the order as well.

Gian Zapata, OF, D-backs

Zapata earned the second-highest bonus in Arizona’s 2023 international class and immediately caught the eye of scouts who covered the league. The 18-year-old swatted nine home runs in the DSL and showed a set of five average or better tools, including potential pluses for his power and throwing arm. He will face the same challenges as other long-levered hitters, but he didn’t chase much in the DSL and showed plenty of thump when he made contact. He’s a center fielder for now but his power and arm strength would play well if he has to move to right field after packing strength onto his 6-foot-4 frame.

Christian Zazueta, RHP, Dodgers

Zazueta went from the Yankees to the Dodgers in the deal that brought lefty Caleb Ferguson to New York. Zazueta is big and physical and already shows a fastball that scrapes the mid 90s as well as a changeup scouts see as a potential plus and a slider with solid tilt. His mix of athleticism, present stuff, projection and pitchability gives him an upside to dream on.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly noted the player the Yankees received from the Dodgers in the Christian Zazueta trade.

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