Checking In on Wyatt Langford and Jackson Chourio

Examining the growing pains of two of baseball's most hyped prospects

A major factor in determining a prospect’s potential to play at the Major League level is their ability to make effective adjustments. From high school to the Majors, each level of baseball gets progressively faster and more difficult, with better pitchers causing trouble for hitters and better hitters causing trouble for pitchers. Being able to make the adjustments necessary to adapt to the advanced competition at each successive Minor League level is typically a strong indicator of whether or not a player can make the necessary adjustments to sustain playing time at the Major League level.

Wyatt Langford and Jackson Chourio are two players who have shown a remarkable ability to make adjustments throughout their times as Minor League prospects. Langford stormed through three minor league levels in the last two months of the season after being drafted by the Rangers last July, while Chourio unlocked more power in his profile after making adjustments to his swing before the 2022 season. While both of these heralded prospects carried with them high expectations upon making their Major League debuts this season, both have underperformed relative to their lofty expectations so far in their Major League careers. This article will take a closer look at Langford and Chourio’s start to the 2024 season and will attempt to examine what areas they may need to improve to reach their full potential moving forward.


Wyatt Langford

Drafted 4th overall by the Texas Rangers in last July’s draft after a stellar junior season at the University of Florida, Wyatt Langford was ranked by FanGraphs as the 2nd-best prospect in all of Major League Baseball entering this season. Langford did nothing but hit during the final two months of last season producing a slash line of .360/.480/.677 (199 wRC+) over 200 plate appearances across A+, AA, and AAA last season, a performance so impressive that there was speculation regarding whether the Rangers should’ve added him to the World Series roster after the injury to Adolis García. Slated to be out for the next three to four weeks with a hamstring injury, Langford has struggled to start the 2024 season, producing a slash line of .224/.295/.293 (68 wRC+) over the first 129 plate appearances of his Major League career.

Wyatt Langford: Statistics (2023-24)

As shown by the table above, Langford was dominant during his stints at each Minor League level last season. Despite the small sample sizes at the AA and AAA levels, Langford increased his walk rate and decreased his strikeouts throughout last season, leading to reasonable projections that this trend might continue into his early Major League career. This turned out not to be the case, as Langford’s walk rate and strikeout have regressed to around league average while he has not been able to tap into his plus raw power (with a .069 ISO) this season. While this might seem to be troubling on the surface, there are promising signs in the underlying metrics that indicate that Langford should be able to turn his season around when he comes back from injury in June.

Wyatt Langford: Plate Discipline + Batted Ball Profile (2023-24)

One positive development that Langford has shown this season is his ability to maintain a low swinging strike rate, currently at 7.2%. This is indicative of Langford’s plus bat-to-ball ability and should limit his strikeout rates moving forward due to his ability to make contact, especially when behind in the count. It also does not appear that Langford is pressing at the plate, with a 28.9% O-Swing indicating that he has plate discipline that is above league average. Given his short stint at AAA, there is not a sufficient sample size to evaluate his swing decisions last season, however, given the high walk rates Langford displayed throughout his Minor League tenure, I would assume his plate discipline skills are more likely to regress in a positive direction in the future.

Langford placed a heavy emphasis on pulling the ball last season, generating a pull rate of around 50% when combined across A+, AA, and AAA last season. This approach is reflected in Langford’s prospect scouting report, which states that “his compact swing allows it to enter the hitting zone very quickly, enabling him to stay short to the ball and crush letter high pitches, which is how he does most of his extra-base damage”.

As shown by the heat maps above, Langford has placed quite an emphasis on trying to pull the ball to generate power on four-seam fastballs, as he frequently swings at fastballs when they are located up-and-in and takes them when they are located anywhere else in the zone. Opposing pitchers have taken notice of this, as most four seamers Langford has faced this season have been located middle-away. While I can’t fault Langford for having a selective approach, as turning on inside Fastballs is within his “nitro zone”, I do believe that he should show more aggressiveness on Fastballs located on the outer third of the plate. He has the raw power (114 max. exit velocity) necessary to turn these pitches into hard hit balls which should translate to base hits and keep pitchers honest in how they approach him in the future. Couple this adjustment with turning on more “mistake” pitches up-and-in and it is easy to envision a scenario where Langford hits for more power quickly. The increased aggression in the strike zone as well as the potential for improved plate discipline should lower his strikeout rate and increase his walk rate, providing Langford a path to reach his lofty offensive potential in the near future.


Jackson Chourio

Signed as an international free agent by the Brewers in January 2021, Jackson Chourio has been one of the league’s most exciting prospects throughout his time in the Minor Leagues, culminating in him being ranked the 3rd-best prospect in all of Major League Baseball by FanGraphs entering this season. With a combination of plus raw power, plus speed, and plus defense (earning lofty comparisons to Ronald Acuña Jr.), Milwaukee signed him to an 8-year/$82M extension in the offseason, indicating the organization’s belief in Chourio as their long-term center fielder. While Chourio improved offensively in each Minor League season, he has struggled to adapt to Major League pitching, currently producing a slash line of .222/.267/.352 (76 wRC+) over 117 plate appearances this season.

Jackson Chourio: Statistics (2023-24)

As shown by the table above, has seen a slight decrease in isolated power and walk rate from his time in the Minor Leagues while his strikeout rate has increased significantly from 17.8% to 29.9%. While this is quite an increase, it should be noted that this is a 20-year-old making his Major League debut after appearing in 5 games above the AA level last season as a 19-year-old. There is going to be a natural adjustment period, and at least Chourio is not looking completely “lost” at the plate (ex. posting a 40% strikeout rate or a very low walk rate). I also think that Chourio will likely be a victim to unrealistic comparisons throughout his career, as I believe comparing him to Ronald Acuña Jr., one of five players to have a 40-40 season and the only player to have a 40-70 season, is quite unfair considering that Chourio only had a 112 wRC+ in AA last season (compared to the 159 wRC+ Acuña posted in AA at the same age). While Chourio does have the potential to become an above-average contributor with the bat, his speed on the basepaths as well as his plus outfield defense allows for him to impact the game in multiple ways and he should be a 2+ win player for the entirety of his career even if the bat doesn’t fully adjust to the Major League level.

Complaints about unfair comparisons aside, Chourio does have a couple of weaknesses in his offensive approach that he will need to improve upon if he is going to reach his potential in the future. Opposing pitchers have utilized a pretty straightforward game plan to Chourio which is to throw him predominantly four seamers and sliders. These two pitches make up 50.7% of the pitches Chourio has faced this year, with opposing pitchers utilizing the four-seamer 25.1% of the time and the slider 25.6% of the time.

As shown by the table above, Chourio has a clear hole against four-seamers upstairs and on the outer third of the plate. This is concerning, as the league values four seamers with “ride” to be utilized at the top of the zone which means that Chourio will continue to face pitchers who will be able to expose him with these pitches for the foreseeable future. The vulnerability to four seamers on the outer third is also concerning, as Chourio swings in this area with a low frequency (which is good to an extent considering his contact ability, but will lead to a lot of called strikes) and has a high tendency to swing-and-miss. Chourio also has a general weakness against sliders (34.4% Whiff, .204 xwOBA), but I wasn’t able to find a particular area of note in the strike zone where he had a significant vulnerability. Perhaps improving his contact ability against the four-seamer will result in him seeing pitches better which will in turn positively impact his bat-to-ball ability against sliders. In my opinion, improving his contact ability against fastballs should be Chourio’s number one developmental priority since this is an area that pitchers will continue to easily exploit moving forward.

With a large contract and a need for outfielders due to injuries, it would be tough for Milwaukee to send Chourio down to AAA for a brief stint but I wonder if that would be the best decision for him to work on his offensive abilities and regain his confidence. Plus, with Blake Perkins starting in center field currently for the Brewers, sending Chourio down for a two-week stint in AAA will give him some reps in center field. Or maybe the Brewers are one of the Major League teams that has a Trajekt, which would allow for Chourio to get in more reps against the pitches he needs to improve against while remaining on the Major League roster. As such a young player, I would be foolish to write off Chourio’s 30-30 potential, especially if he can improve his contact ability against four-seamers in the near future. However, given his plus defense, plus speed, and early-season offensive struggles, I would say a probable outlook for Chourio in the future is more like a league-average offensive player who can generate 2-2.5 wins per year due to his ability to impact the game in a variety of ways, rather than a perennial 6+ win superstar center fielder.

Making the adjustment to Major League Baseball is difficult, and Wyatt Langford and Jackson Chourio have both experienced some growing pains during their brief tenures at the Major League level. While it can be easy to panic and significantly lower a prospect’s outlook after a slow start, both Langford and Chourio possess solid foundations (Langford with his plate discipline and bat-to-ball skills, Chourio with his defensive value) which should lead to consistent Major League success for both players throughout their professional careers.

Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Aaron Polcare (@bearydoesgfx on X)

Adam Salorio

Adam Salorio is a Going Deep Writer at Pitcher List, and a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan. When he's not talking about or researching baseball, you can probably catch him at a Bruce Springsteen concert.

One response to “Checking In on Wyatt Langford and Jackson Chourio”

  1. Lark11 says:

    Interesting read, but definitely pretty surprised to see such a strongly stated opinion about Jackson Chourio’s future, seemingly based on 122 lackluster MLB plate appearances from a 20-year old. In the data-driven era, when players and pitchers are constantly adjusting, tweaking, evolving, and adjusting again, not sure I buy Chourio’s struggles to hit certain pitches or cover certain portions of the zone as fatal, uncorrectable flaws. But, I’ll be curious to see if your prediction comes true.

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