Five More Players To Know From The Florida Complex League
Last week, Baseball America released its Top 10 Prospects list for each of the Rookie leagues in Arizona and Florida. Guardians shortstop Angel Genao led the way in Arizona, narrowly edging towering Nationals righthander Jarlin Susana, who was part of the massive trade that brought Juan Soto to San Diego. In Florida, Red Sox outfielder Miguel Bleis’ five-tool skill set made him the clear choice ahead of Pirates two-way talent Bubba Chandler and Yankees pop-up righty Luis Serna.
Each list only went 10 players deep, but there were plenty more prospects who were in consideration. Here, now, are five more prospects to keep an eye on in the coming years who opened eyes in the Florida Complex League.
1. Juan Nuñez, RHP, Orioles
Nuñez was dealt from Minnesota to Baltimore in the Jorge Lopez trade and intrigued scouts both before and after the move. The big-armed righty showed a fastball in the mid 90s up to 97 mph and backs the pitch with a hard-biting slider that scouts see as a potentially above-average pitch. Nuñez has a changeup as well, but it’s well behind the fastball and slider. He’s a converted position player, so he’s a little more raw than would be expected, but there’s clear upside.
2. Johnfrank Salazar, 3B, Red Sox
Salazar has been on teams’ radars since his debut in the DSL in 2021, when he showed the potential to be a high-contact player. That trend continued in 2022, first in the FCL and then at Low-A Salem. In total, Salazar, a 19-year-old Venezuelan, had whiffed just 26 times in 195 plate appearances entering Wednesday’s action. Salazar is listed as a third baseman but can play up the middle as well and shows good hand-eye coordination and a swing geared for line drives to all sectors. He doesn’t have a ton of power, but there’s a chance he’ll grow into a bit more as he matures.
3. Jose Acuña, RHP, Reds
Acuña was part of the two-player package the Mets sent to Cincinnati for outfielder Tyler Naquin at the trade deadline. He fronts a three-pitch mix with a four-seam fastball in the low-to-mid 90s with carry at the top of the zone for swings and misses. He backs it up with an array of potentially average offspeed pitches, including a low-80s slider, high-70s curveball and low-80s changeup. He has to hone his command, but scouts see a potential big leaguer down the line.
4. Armando Cruz, SS, Nationals
Cruz was the recipient of the highest bonus for a 16-year-old in the 2020-2021 international class. He earned that money on the strength of a stellar glove that will allow him to stick at shortstop in the long run and the potential for a bit of offensive output as well. That scouting report played true in his first stateside test, when Cruz showed outstanding defense and plenty of highlight-reel plays despite not being the twitchiest of athletes. His 57 hits were the most in the FCL, but there isn’t a ton of impact behind his contact and scouts doubt that will change much as he matures. No matter what he provides at the plate, Cruz’s glove should get him to the big leagues.
5. Ambioris Tavarez, SS, Braves
Tavarez missed time with injury and has a lot of rough edges to smooth out, but his tools make him an interesting prospect. He hits the ball hard, uses the whole field and has an approach geared for more contact than power at the moment. He could grow into power as he learns to be less aggressive early in counts. He’s got plenty of arm for shortstop and will make highlight-reel plays at times but has been known to whiff on routine plays. He also needs to reconfigure his internal clock. If it all comes together, he could be an average shortstop with offensive impact, but there’s a long way to go to reach that ceiling.