Image credit: ACL Top 20
Early promotions from star prospects have led to a bit of a down season in the Arizona Complex League. Players like Ethan Salas (Padres), Josue De Paula (Dodgers), Jefferson Rojas (Cubs) and Austin Charles (Royals) were gone too quickly to reach the 50 ABs or 15 innings needed to qualify. In their place are a high-upside Rangers shortstop from the Bahamas, a pair of first-round picks from the NL West and the younger brother of one of the best prospects in the sport.
1. Sebastian Walcott, SS, Rangers
Age: 17. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 190. Acquired: Bahamas, 2023.
Walcott was Texas’ highest-profile signing in the most recent international period, and his performance this season showed flashes of his talent. The 17-year-old clubbed six home runs in his first 12 games in Arizona. He’s brimming with a combination of athleticism and physicality not often seen in players his age. Unsurprisingly, there was a good deal of swing-and-miss in his game. He finished with a 32.4% strikeout rate and showed a vulnerability against spin. He also might become too big to stick on the infield, though his power would easily profile at any outfield spot. His upside is as high as any player in the Rangers’ system, but there’s plenty of work to be done before he achieves his ceiling.
2. Bryce Eldridge, OF/RHP, Giants
Age: 18. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-7. Wt.: 223. Acquired: 1st round pick, 2023.
For the second season in a row, the Giants chose a two-way player with their first-round draft pick. Eldridge is the inverse of their 2022 choice, Reggie Crawford, and looks likely to stick in the batter’s box. Eldridge wowed scouts in his brief time in the ACL, showing controlled at-bats, a short swing that produces huge power without selling out. Eldridge played right field in the ACL but likely profiles at first base, where his light-tower power would make the transition fairly seamless and his hulking frame would make for a large target for his fellow infielders. He did not pitch in his pro debut.
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3. Jaison Chourio, OF, Guardians
Age: 18. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 162. Acquired: Venezuela, 2022.
The younger brother of top Brewers prospect Jackson Chourio brings a different skill set but a high upside nonetheless. Jaison is a polished hitter whose selectivity at the plate can border on passive. He works deep into counts and is as confident as they come with two strikes. Chourio doesn’t show much power now, but bullish evaluators believe he could get to above-average thump if he continues filling out his frame. He’s a plus runner who has a solid chance to stick in center field thanks to excellent instincts and athleticism. His floor is as high as can be found in the high-variance complex league, but his ceiling could make him a player Cleveland can build around.
4. Dillon Head, OF, Padres
Age: 18. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 185. Acquired: 1st round, 2023.
It’s no secret that the Padres love to shoot for upside when acquiring talent, and they’ve done just that with Head, a high-ceiling prep who was San Diego’s first-round pick in 2023. Head—who just barely qualified for this list—marries a quick, level swing with a mature approach, and the results showed up in contact, impact and zone control before he moved to Low-A. The Illinois prep product has a combination of near-elite speed and athleticism which should make him a layup to stick in center field, where scouts before the draft pegged him as potentially plus defender with a 55-grade throwing arm.
5. Jansel Luis, 2B/SS, D-backs
Age: 18. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 170. Acquired: Dominican Republic, 2022.
Luis was part of a talented group of Arizona players and projects as one of the safest players in the ACL. He projects to be at least an average hitter and could be even better if he makes more sound swing decisions. Presently, his bat-to-ball skills can work to his detriment because he has a tendency to hit pitchers’ pitches and make suboptimal contact. He has fringe-average power now but could tick up a touch if he learns to swing at pitches he has a chance to drive with authority. Luis is an above-average runner who shows strong actions and arm strength up the middle and has a chance to stick at shortstop.
6. Dario Laverde, C, Angels
Age: 18. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 160. Acquired: Venezuela, 2022.
Laverde had been catching only a few years when he signed but has already made an impact as the top backstop prospect in the ACL. The 18-year-old Venezuelan is a bat-first player right now, but scouts this summer saw a player with a 55-grade arm that plays down because of a slower release. Laverde showed feel for hitting and zone control with a swing that scouts projected to produce more power as he matured and gained strength, though he doesn’t have as much projection remaining as would be expected from a player his age. Laverde’s knowledge of the strike zone and discipline to stay within it was particularly impressive. He projects as a player in the mold of former Angels catcher Edgar Quero.
7. Jackson Humphries, LHP, Guardians
Age: 19. B-T: R-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 200. Acquired: 8th round pick, 2022.
Though his stats might not jump off the page, Humphries was easily regarded as one of the most talented pitchers in the ACL. Humphries—Cleveland’s eighth-round pick in 2022—pitches with a full four-pitch mix fronted by a mid-90s fastball and backed in part by a curveball that scouts project as a potentially plus offering. He has an excellent combination of physicality, athleticism and feel for spin, though there is a concern that a lack of extension in his delivery might cause his fastball to play less than its velocity. He also shows a potentially average changeup. Put it all together, and Cleveland could have another talented pitcher in its enviable development program.
8. Samuel Muñoz, OF, Dodgers
Age: 18. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 190. Acquired: Dominican Republic, 2022.
The Dodgers’ system is as stocked as nearly in the game, and Muñoz is one of many talented players lurking in its lower levels. The lefthanded hitter is a big, physical presence who was a standout all season long in the ACL. Scouts see a player who could be a 55-grade hitter who can shoot hard line drives to all sectors. Muñoz has potentially average power as well, which will come in handy if he eventually has to move to an outfield corner. Evaluators believe that is a highly probable outcome, with left field the most obvious destination thanks to fringe-average arm strength. He’s an average runner now but could slow down as he ages.
9. Lazaro Montes, OF, Mariners
Age: 18. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 210. Acquired: Cuba, 2022.
Montes definitely plays to type. He’s a big man with power few in the minor leagues can match. He slammed six home runs in the ACL in 37 games, then equaled that total in his first 17 games in the Low-A California League. His raw power is at least plus now and he’s done an excellent job getting to it in games. Scouts question how well his approach will hold up as he climbs the ladder, and they are particularly intrigued by how well he’ll do against premium velocity. He’s an outfielder now but is unlikely to remain there in the long run given his size and lack of quick-twitch athleticism. No matter where winds up, his power should play and will likely get him to the big leagues.
10. Oswaldo Osorio, SS, Dodgers
Age: 18. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 171. Acquired: Venezuela, 2022.
Osorio was one of the better players in Los Angeles’ ACL group and combines athleticism and skills into an intriguing package. He’s an above-average defender at shortstop with a plus arm and smooth hands and footwork. At the plate, he controls the zone well and has a picturesque lefthanded swing that should produce at least average power and a hittability to could get to that level or maybe just a tick below.
11. Cristofer Torin, SS, D-backs
Age: 18. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 155. Acquired: Venezuela, 2022.
Torin was a sleeper prospect in Arizona’s 2022 international class and has already shown to be an intriguing prospect. Scouts project Torin to be a potentially above-average hitter with fringe-average power. He makes sound swing decisions and has a knack for getting the ball in the air, which should accentuate his offensive profile. Defensively, he might slide over to second base because his range is a bit short, but is an average runner, has solid instincts and is reliable in the field. Scouts who are most optimistic see a potential everyday player who winds up as a bat-first second baseman.
12. Echedry Vargas, SS/2B, Rangers
Age: 18. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 170. Acquired: Dominican Republic, 2022.
Vargas was one of the best performers in the ACL and has already delivered on his signing bonus of just $10,000. His 11 home runs tied him for the league lead and his .569 slugging percentage was third on the circuit. Scouts are quite mixed on Vargas’ overall offensive potential. Some see a well below-average hitter while others project his hit tool to be plus. The bearish scouts believe he’s a fastball hitter whose barrel lacks adjustability. More optimistic evaluators believe he has enough feel to hit to refine his approach to the point where he can damage multiple pitch types. He’s not a true shortstop and is likely to settle into a utility role thanks to speed, range and arm strength that are just average.
13. Adam Serwinowski, LHP, Reds
Age: 19. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 190. Acquired: 15th round pick, 2022.
Serwinowski was Cincinnati’s 15th-round selection in the 2022 draft, out of high school in South Carolina. He cuts a physical presence on the mound and has seen his stuff tick up to match. Scouts this summer reported a pitcher who got significantly stronger over the offseason and now boasts a fastball that ranges from 94-97 out of a funky angle. He pairs the fastball with a sweepy slurve that flashes excellent finish and could become a plus pitch with further refinement. He has a rarely used changeup as well that could get to fringe-average with more use. Serwinowski is only a fair athlete and needs to throw more consistent strikes, but the ingredients are there for him to be at least a weapon out of the bullpen.
14. Dyan Jorge, SS, Rockies
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 170. Acquired: Cuba, 2022.
Jorge has had tough luck with injuries over the last couple of years, sustaining broken hamate bones in each of the last two years. This season, a broken right hamate in spring training delayed his season and scuttled a possible Opening Day assignment to Low-A. Though he’s a tick slower than when he signed, Jorge has the hands and actions for shortstop. His swing is geared for plenty of contact, and scouts in the ACL saw him turn on pitches for power, though internal evaluators believe he will likely wind up as more of a doubles hitter.
15. Dylan O’Rae, 2B, Brewers
Age: 19. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 5-7. Wt.: 160. Acquired: 3rd round, 2022.
O’Rae was Milwaukee’s third-rounder in 2022 out of high school in Canada. The lefthanded hitter is a prototypical table-setter who employs an aggressive, slash-and-burn approach that lets his elite speed create havoc on the bases. He has very little power who hits a lot of balls on the ground, which is less of an issue considering he’s more likely to beat out an infield single than he is to drive a ball over the fence. O’Rae shows solid hands and actions at second base and has dabbled in center field in both the ACL and at Low-A.
16. Ricardo Cabrera, SS/3B, Reds
Age: 18. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 178. Acquired: Venezuela, 2022.
Cabrera was one of the best performers in the ACL, though he did show a few red flags along the way. Scouts see a potentially average hitter with above-average power thanks to excellent ball-striking ability. He’s unlikely to remain a shortstop but already has a mature body and will need to watch his conditioning to make sure he maintains the range and agility to stick at third base.
17. Juan Baez, 2B, Brewers
Age: 18. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-9. Wt.: 175. Acquired: Dominican Republic, 2022.
Baez signed with Milwaukee in 2022 and spent his first season in the DSL, where he posted nondescript numbers. In the ACL, he upped his production. Scouts see a player with good infield actions but is unlikely to stick at shortstop. He’s an extremely aggressive hitter who almost never walks but also doesn’t strike out often. He’s got a loose swing geared for gap power, but he might have to tone down his load in order to keep making contact as he climbs the ladder. He has the potential to be an offensive-minded utility infielder.
18. Aldrin Batista, RHP, White Sox
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 185. Acquired: Traded from Dodgers to White Sox with RHP Maximo Martinez for international bonus allotment, Aug. 4, 2023.
Batista was part of the two-pitcher package the Dodgers sent to the White Sox in August in exchange for international slot money. He was leading the ACL in strikeouts at the time of the trade and performed well after a move to the Low-A Carolina League. The skinny righthander starts his mix with a mid-90s fastball that shows run and sink when executed down in the zone. He backs up the fastball with a changeup and slider that each flash above-average but are prone to inconsistency. Batista’s stuff is better than his control and could lead to him being more of a long reliever with the upside of a back-end starter.
19. Ruben Santana, 3B, D-backs
Age: 18. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 190. Acquired: Dominican Republic, 2022.
Santana was part of a triumvirate of interesting prospects in the ACL, along with infielders Jansel Luis and Cristofer Torin. He fits as a power-over-hit player with at least above-average if not plus raw juice, especially to the pull side. He’s athletic and has a chance to stick at third base if he can clean up some of the finer points of the position. If not, his plus arm strength could help him handle a transition to right field.
20. Alexis Hernandez, SS, Cubs
Age: 18. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 155. Acquired: Dominican Republic, 2022.
The younger brother of fellow Cubs shortstop prospect Cristian Hernandez, Alexis is a long, lean player with a chance to be an average defender at shortstop with an above-average arm. He’s a hit-over-power player whose ceiling might be lower than his production suggests thanks to an incredible BABIP of .494. Scouts think he could get to more power if he learns how to lift the ball without adding swing-and-miss to his game. He’s an average runner who could slow down as he matures.