Luis Baez, OF
A combination of pedigree and performance has earned Baez multiple Top-30 nods from national outlets before his 20th birthday. After signing for seven figures last January, a few days after his 18th birthday, Baez impressed in his DSL debut with a .305/.351/.552 slash line in 222 PAs, connecting on 9 HRs and striking out 56 times vs. 14 walks. Baez is 6’1” with present strength and remaining projectability, and while his run times are just okay he’s athletic enough to remain in an outfield corner long term. His approach is pull-heavy and aggressive and may need to be toned down at higher levels, but his ability to lift the ball to the pull side with frequency is promising. The short term focus at the plate will likely be on picking his spots a bit more effectively while trying not to lose the mentality that made him a dangerous power threat in 2022. Just 19, he has a good chance at significant Low-A time in 2023 regardless.
Sandro Gaston, C/1B
Gaston didn’t have as much amateur hype as the other names on this list, but earned himself some attention by posting an eye-popping .367 ISO as a 19 year old. While old for the level, Gaston did his part, posting one of the best wRC+s in the league among qualified hitters, picking up 12 HR along the way with 41 Ks against 22 walks in 169 PA. At 6’3”, 210 lbs., he was certainly ahead of most of his competition in terms of physical development, and his list of possible defensive homes is short, but he could end up intriguing evaluators if he can hold up behind the plate while offering some offensive punch. He threw out a respectable 40% of would-be basestealers last season, but his receiving will need to be refined. The FCL would be a logical next stop for Gaston, but Fayetteville isn’t looking crowded at the catcher position, so he could get some time there with a strong spring.
Kenni Gomez, OF
Still 17 years old, Gomez looks like a strong candidate to continue the Astros’ tradition of promising Cuban talent after an excellent debut. While he only recorded 122 PAs, he impressed in the brief stint, slashing .294/.402/.500 with 4 HR and a whopping 18 walks against 28 Ks. At 5’11”, 185 lbs., Gomez projectability is limited but not nonexistent, and he showed ability to lift the ball in the DSL, and pairs his offensive prowess with an above-average run tool. He split time between center and right field in 2022, and if he’s able to stick up the middle it would obviously be big for his stock going forward. Given his youth, I’d expect him log most of his 2023 in the FCL. The best case scenario is a well-rounded CF with table setter qualities.
Waner Luciano, 3B
There wasn’t much fanfare around Luciano’s signing in the 21 class, but he wasted no time catching eyes with a strong first campaign. He played the entire season as a young 17 year old, and saw time at all four infield spots, though the vast majority was at the hot corner. He has some present strength at 6’1”, 170 lbs. but has room to add muscle and improve his body composition to add further explosion. Perhaps the most impressive part of his debut statistically were his excellent strikeout/walk numbers - in 214 PAs, he walked in nearly 16% (34), while striking out just 42 times. He hit just .229, apparently primarily due to a proclivity for infield flies, but showed some pop with a .194 ISO and 6 homers, and even stole 9 bags in 11 attempts. If he can iron out the mishits, there’s an intriguing blend of contact ability and power potential here in a potential right side stick. The FCL will likely be his home for most of 2023.
Jose Fleury & Amilcar Chirinos, RHPs
A pair of 20 year old right handers, Fleury and Chirinos thoroughly dominated the competition for DSL Astros Orange, anchoring a strong staff. Chirinos was in his second DSL campaign after logging 10 innings in 2021, but performed very well across both stints, allowing 26 hits and 8 ER across 41 and 2⁄3 total innings, striking out 59 vs. 15 walks. Fleury was making his debut in 2022 and was even more dominant, posting a nutty 60/4 K/BB ratio in 38 frames while allowing just 27 hits and 6 earned runs. Both were transferred to the spring training complex late in the year to start their transitions stateside, so we can definitely expect to see them in Florida or Carolina at some point in 2023. Chirinos is the more physical of the two at 6’3”, 200 lbs. vs. Fleury’s 6’0”, 185, and I don’t have much information on their stuff profiles yet, but the numbers suggest a combination of nascent command and bat missing ability.