Florida State League Recap: What You Need to Know

Justin Crawford, Clearwater Threshers, Florida State League, April 9, 2023. Photo credit Bryan Green, begreen90 on Flickr

The historic Florida State League returned on Thursday April 8th as the St. Lucie Mets began their league championship title defense. All eyes have not been on their request to repeat though, rather, we’re watching the MLB prospects across the league’s 10 teams.

Prospects are why we’re all here, so let’s get right to it.

Here’s what you need to know prospect-wise across the league’s first month of games down in the wide world of Florida.

Slugging Tortugas

The Daytona Tortugas have one of the best logos going in the FSL. They also have two of the best young hitters in the league. Building off an offseason filled with helium from his showing in complex ball in 2022, 19-year-old Carlos Jorge is again showing well. Making his full season debut this year, Jorge has displayed intriguing power to go along with his bat to ball skills. Listed at 5’10” and hailing from the Dominican Republic, Jorge is compact with a muscular build, certainly mature for his age. He’s a plus athlete with good speed and although he has shown some swing and miss, it’s a very interesting package

Jorge’s counterpart atop the Daytona lineup is Leonardo Balcazar, another familiar name in deep dynasty formats. Still just 18, Balcazar can be described as hitterish in the box and his offensive production is there to match. He uses the whole field and while he displayed some trouble picking up spin in my looks, the product of Venezuela is a name to know.

The Reds 2021 IFA class looks quite promising thanks to these two bats.

Checking in on 1st Round Talent

Termarr Johnson was selected 4th overall in the 2022 Draft and while he got a taste of Single-A with Bradenton last season, he is not knocking down the doors for a promotion anytime soon. Johnson won’t turn 19 until the summer so it’s too early for alarm bells, however, you have to at least start to ponder how lauded the hit tool was coming out of high school. Johnson, at the time of this writing, had registered 10 strikeouts in 21 ABs. Small sample of course, and he’s been limited by injury, but that rate is good for a K% of nearly 50%. I saw him work some good at-bats against Daytona last week though and I think he just needs time.

Jett Williams went 10 picks after Termarr and for what it’s worth, his numbers so far look a lot better. The 19-year-old Williams certainly stands out for his stature in the batter’s box as he’s listed at just 5’6”, however, he makes up for what he lacks in height with his bat. Williams has also shown a patient approach through 17 games, working 15 walks. Jett was a popular target in First Year Player Drafts this winter and for good reason. He can swing it.

17th overall selection Justin Crawford initially got off to a slow start but he has since righted the ship. Now batting over .300, Crawford has wasted little time in showcasing his double plus speed. His 10 steals as of May 3rd were good for third in the league. Never bet against big league bloodlines.

Sal Stewart was technically a first round pick, going to the Reds in the Competitive Balance Round C at 32 overall. He’s a big bodied 19-year-old who has walked more than he’s struck out in 71 trips to the plate. Stewart is a name to watch for his blend of plate discipline, power, and ability to put bat to ball.

Red Hot Cardinal

19-year-old catcher Leonardo Bernal is off to a scorching start to the year in Palm Beach. Through 57 ABs, Bernal has registered 20 hits, good for top 5 in the circuit. He’s also slugged 2 homers while only striking out 11% of the time. At 19 years old, the catching prospect has firmly planted himself on the radar in the world of prospects.

Eye Catchers

Malvin Valdez hasn’t done anything on paper to write home about through his first 17 games with Daytona, yet he certainly catches the eye. 19 years old and from the Dominican Republic, Valdez has a frame ripe for projection. He doubled off former Ole Miss standout Derek Diamond and later showed the ability to turn on the ball, pulling his hands in and ripping it down the line. I’ll be keeping my eye on Valdez this season.

Another player with eye-catching physicality for Daytona is 19-year-old Ariel Almonte. Listed at just 6’1”, the DR product looks to be a lot taller than that however one thing is not in question: his raw power. It is certainly tremendous however Almonte is striking out at a near 50% rate in his full season debut. He’s another intriguing teenager for the Tortugas.

Lastly, Alexander Mojica stands out for his frame, albeit for a different reason. Built like a dump truck, the 20-year-old Mojica is making his third appearance at the level this year for Bradenton. He looks ripe for a call-up, showing improved plate discipline and good bat speed.

Nick covers the Florida State League for Prospects1500. Born and raised in the Bay Area he fell in love with the Oakland A’s at an early age. The A’s have never loved him back but that’s never stopped him from obsessing over all things baseball, especially prospects, the minor leagues, and dynasty baseball. Find him on Twitter @Leobaseball3.

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