Cleveland Guardians 2024 International Review


Homegrown international signings are present throughout the Guardians farm system. Brayan Rocchio is the starting shortstop in Cleveland. Center fielder Jaison Chourio has emerged as a Top 100 prospect this season playing with Low-A Lynchburg, where he’s teammates with shortstop Angel Genao, another prospect on the rise. Shortstop Angel Martinez is another top 30 prospect in the system at the upper levels, while shortstop Welbyn Francisca is one of the top prospects in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League. Of course there’s also Junior Caminero, the No. 2 prospect in baseball and a major win for the team’s international scouting department, now with the Rays after getting traded in 2021.

This year’s deep Guardians international class has their typical flavor of hitters with good bat-to-ball skills, with reports on 13 prospects to watch in the Dominican Summer League.

Top Of The Class

Dominican center fielder Robert Arias signed at 17 for $1.9 million. He’s 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, a lefty with great hand-eye coordination that allows him to have a low swing-and-miss rate from an unorthodox swing. It’s a contact-oriented offensive game, with Arias content serving the ball for line-drive content to all fields with a good track record of getting on base in games.

There’s a chance for more extra-base thump to come as Arias fills out his wiry frame if he’s able to make a swing adjustment and learns which pitches to hunt for damage, but it will likely always but a hit-over-power offensive game. A baseball rat with a high-energy style on the field, Arias has good all-around instincts for the game that show up at the plate and in center field. He’s an above-average runner with a plus arm, showing the quickness and tools to have a good chance to remain in center field.

Names To Know

Gabriel Rodriguez, SS, Venezuela: Rodriguez played shortstop for Venezuela at the U-15 World Cup Americas Qualifier in 2022, where he hit .400/.478/.600 and didn’t strike out in 23 plate appearances, ranking second on the team in OPS. A $500,000 signing, Rodriguez is the son of Brewers Venezuelan supervisor Jose Rodriguez and he plays like someone who has grown up around the professional game. An instinctive, high baseball IQ player, Rodriguez has polish to his actions both offensively and at shortstop.

He’s  6 feet, 160 pounds, a 17-year-old with a short, quick swing from the left side and good hand-eye coordination with a high contact rate. He stays within the strike zone, recognizes spin and can barrel both fastballs and offspeed stuff with a line-drive, all-fields approach. Rodriguez has gap power and could start to see more of his doubles start to go over the fence once he adds strength to his thin frame, but his offensive value will come more from his on-base skills. Rodriguez has the instincts and actions to stay at shortstop. He’s athletic, has good body control, hands and footwork and is adept at making throws from different angles with an average arm. 

Miguel Flores, LHP, Cuba: The Guardians paid $500,000 to sign Flores, a 19-year-old whose pitchability should translate to immediate success in the Dominican Summer League. Flores pitched well during his final season in Cuba pitching for Sancti Spiritus in the country’s 18U national league, recording a 1.83 ERA in 59 innings with 38 walks and 108 strikeouts, the second-most strikeouts in the league. He’s 6-foot-2, 185 pounds with still projection to grow a fastball in the low-90s. He’s athletic with a sound delivery that he repeats, and while there were times in Cuba where his control escaped him, since getting to the Dominican Republic he has shown the ability to stay in the zone primarily with his fastball, curveball and changeup as his main pitches, along with a slider as well. 

Estivel Morillo, OF, Dominican Republic: Morillo signed for $435,000 as one of the younger players in the 2024 class, turning 17 on July 21. He has a strong 6-foot frame with a chance for average or better tools across the board. He has a compact lefthanded swing with strength behind it, giving him the opportunity for a balance of both hitting and power, with flashes of home run juice to his pull side now. He’s an above-average runner who should get the opportunity to develop in center field. 

Luis De La Cruz, SS/OF, Dominican Republic: An offensive-minded player with experience all over the field, De La Cruz signed at 17 for $430,000. He’s a switch-hitter at 5-foot-11, 165 pounds with good barrel awareness, a fast swing and a knack for hitting the ball in the air with a balance of hitting ability and extra-base damage for his age. De La Cruz has experience in the infield, outfield and even behind the plate, and while he’s no longer catching, he could see time everywhere else. He’s not a burner so he might be stretched thin in center field but could otherwise bounce between the infield and outfield. 

Edelvis Perez, RHP, Cuba: Perez was teammates with lefthander Miguel Flores, another 2024 Guardians signing, when they pitched together for Sancti Spiritus in the Cuban junior leagues. Perez was in Cuba’s 18U national league in 2023, recording a 2.33 ERA in 15 innings with 19 strikeouts and 14 walks. Signed for $415,000, Perez is 6-foot-3, 190 pounds at 19, pitching in the low-90s and touching 94 mph with a fastball that has good life and angle. There’s projection to throw harder too, with a low-80s changeup and low-80s slider rounding his arsenal. 

Johan Rodriguez, SS, Cuba: Rodriguez is young for the class—he turns 17 on July 28—and signed for $325,000. He hit well at the U-15 World Cup Americas Qualifier in Venezuela in 2022, batting .500/.680/.750 as he went 8-for-16 with two doubles, a triple, eight walks and no strikeouts. Prior to that, Rodriguez excelled as the shortstop for La Habana in Cuba’s 15U national league, hitting .515/.565/1.030 in 46 plate appearances with nine walks and three strikeouts as he won the batting title and led the league in both slugging and OPS.

He’s 5-foot-11, 170 pounds, a strong, compact build for his age with a sound righthanded stroke. Rodriguez makes good swing decisions and detects spin well to make frequent contact with both fastballs and breaking stuff. He’s not a big power threat but he hits the ball in the air and should rack up doubles. Rodriguez is not the quick-burst athlete some teams prefer at shortstop, but he’s a solid defender on the balls he gets to with the ability to stick in the dirt. 

Juneiker Caceres, OF, Venezuela: Caceres is another Guardians signing who is young for the class. He turns 17 on Aug. 15, so he will play nearly the entire DSL season at 16 after signing for $300,000. He’s 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, not that tall but with more physical maturity for his age. He’s a lefty with a disciplined approach, staying within the strike zone and using a good swing to put balls in play to all fields with hard contact. He might rotate around all three outfield spots but likely gravitates toward a corner. 

Randy Martinez, SS, Venezuela: Martinez, 17, signed for $275,000. He’s 5-foot-9, 165 pounds and shows offensive promise from both sides of the plate with feel for the barrel and strength in his swing to produce deep gap shots. Once a wiry middle infielder, Martinez has started to fill out and should get a chance to play shortstop, where his hands and arm strength fit, though he could end up an offensive-minded second baseman. 

Yeiferth Castillo, OF, Venezuela: Like Caceres, Castillo is another lefthanded outfielder with a strong build. He’s 5-foot-9 so he’s not that tall but he shows solid contact skills with gap power at 17, with his offensive output driving his value as a corner outfielder. Castillo signed for $225,000.

Dauri Fernandez, SS, Dominican Republic: Fernandez has been one of the bigger up-arrow players for the Guardians in preseason action. Signed for $215,000, Fernandez is a 17-year-old switch-hitter who moves well in the box and consistently barrels balls from both sides. He’s 5-foot-9 and has started to add muscle to what was a skinny frame and has started to be able to pull balls out from the right side. Fernandez stands out most for his hitting ability, with tools to play somewhere in the dirt, possibly at shortstop with second base another potential fit.

Romer Taveras, OF, Dominican Republic: Taveras stood out for his speed and defense when he signed at 17 for $135,000. He’s 5-foot-7, 145 pounds, so getting stronger will be crucial for him, but he’s a plus runner with an average arm in center field and a patient approach at the plate. 

Sleeper Watch

The Guardians signed righthander Wilinyer Ardiles from Venezuela for $65,000. He’s 16 until Aug. 14, so he’s one of the youngest players in the class, but he’s already showing advanced stuff for his age. Ardiles has a thin 5-foot-11 frame and fast arm speed that he can whip through to run his fastball up to 94 mph. He’s able to get tight rotation on his low-to-mid 80s slider too, at times spinning it up to 2,900 rpm. Those are two big weapons for Ardiles, with his changeup still in its early stages, making him one of the more exciting young pitchers to watch this year in the DSL.

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