(Photo Jesus Aguilar/Getty Images)
The 2023-2024 winter ball season has largely headed into the postseason. Leagues in the Dominican Republic. Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela are all now in postseason play, with only the Australian Baseball League still playing regular season games among the largest winter ball leagues.
So now that we’re in 2024, we can take a look at nine prospects who impressed in winter ball. This list is very hitter heavy, as the leagues themselves are almost completely bereft of young pitching prospects. In most cases, MLB teams are extremely reluctant to let young pitching prospects to pitch in winter ball these days.
Junior Caminero, 3B, Escogido (Rays)
Caminero’s Dominican winter league season was a brief one. He played in 21 games, the last coming on Dec. 1. But in only 94 plate appearances, Caminero had five home runs and 11 extra-base hits while primarily playing third base. He posted a .333/.362/.575 slash line and his five home runs were tied for third most in the league.
As is usually the case for Caminero, he demonstrated all-fields power. One of his five home runs was a monster shot to center field, and another was a line drive down the right field line. Caminero was already considered one of the best prospects in baseball. His stint in winter ball just offered another reminder of why.
Julio Carreras, SS, Gigantes (Rockies)
Carreras is the wild card of this list. He’s not a prominent prospect (he’s never cracked the top 15 on the Rockies’ Top 30 Prospects list), and he’s coming off a year where he hit .238/.324/.340 between Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque. But Carreras finished second in the rookie of the year voting in the Dominican winter league. Carreras hit .304/.388/.461 with 17 steals in 18 attempts in just 28 games played. Carreras has never stolen 20 bases in a MiLB season, so that was a surprising number. He also showed better power than he’s shown in the minors.
Jackson Chourio, OF, Zulia (Brewers)
All of Chourio’s games came early in the Venezuelan winter league season. He didn’t play in a game after Nov. 18. But Chourio made an impact in the 17 games he played. Chourio hit .379/.453/.530 with five doubles, a triple, a home run and three steals in 75 plate appearances.
Chourio started a little slow, with three hits in his first 15 plate appearances. But he hit .415 over his final 13 games and had as many…