The Winter League season in Venezuela has been in full swing for over a month, with teams having played at least 28 games. MLB Prospects Jackson Chourio (MIL), Jesus Rodriguez (NYY), and Eliezer Alfonzo (DET) are currently having outstanding offensive seasons. Those are encouraging signs for the fans of their MLB teams. All these players figure among the league leaders despite their status as MLB Prospects.
Chourio, 19, is the number 2 prospect in all of MLB and number 1 in the Milwaukee Brewers organization. He plays for Aguilas de Zuria and has vastly improved his production in the Winter league in the previous two years. Last year in the Winter league, Chourio played in 20 games with 82 plate appearances and achieved a slash line of .256/.291/.354. This year, Chourio has blossomed offensively, producing a slash line of .379/.453/.530 in 17 games and 75 plate appearances. His batting average is second in the league for players with at least 75 plate appearances. His OPS is fifth in the league among players with as many plate appearances. This performance, combined with Chourio’s performance in the Brewers’ minor league clubs, could position Chourio as an early favorite to go to the Brewers’ Spring Training with an opportunity to secure a position with the team’s Opening Day roster in 2024. In 2023, Chourio had 583 plate appearances in both AA and AAA combined for the Brewers’ affiliates in Biloxi and Nashville, and he had excellent offensive production. He produced a slugging percentage of .464 and OPS of .805, above league averages.
Rodriguez is a 21-year-old catcher who spent 2023 in the New York Yankees organization, playing in MiLB A and A+ affiliates in Hudson Valley and Tampa. Rodriguez, who can also play first and third base, has had a standout season in the Venezuela league this Winter. In his debut season, Rodriguez was among the offensive leaders in the league, producing a slash line of .362/.400/.493 in 75 plate appearances for Tigres de Aragua. His batting average is tied for seventh in the league. Rodriguez’s production has made him an early candidate for Rookie of the Year in the league. Last year, Rodriguez produced an OPS of .849 in 469 MiLB appearances between A and A+ of the Yankees.
The third MLB prospect having a great year in the Venezuela league is Eliezer Alfonzo of the Detroit Tigers organization. The 24-year-old catcher is also making his debut in the Venezuela league and has produced a healthy stat line of .377/.472/.525. He is Rodriguez’s main competitor to claim the league’s Rookie of the Year. Alfonzo spent last year between A+ and AA in the Tiger’s organization. Alfonzo has an overall batting average of .294 in six MiLB seasons and an on-base percentage of .358 in over 1,400 MiLB appearances.
The Venezuela Winter league is currently entering the second half of the season. These prospects along with many others are relishing the opportunity of playing and developing in the Winter to get the opportunities with their MLB organizations when their name is called upon. With the pennant race heating up with a spot to play in the Caribbean Series in February in Miami, these prospects can do nothing but benefit from this environment that could eventually pay dividends for their MLB clubs.
Photo: Carlos Castro/Prensa Águilas del Zulia