Martin Sekulski’s 2024 Breakout Prospects

Martin takes a look at four prospects poised to break out this season!

The 2023 season saw a flurry of prospect activity, specifically an extraordinary number of promotions, players climbing four levels, and the emergence of new stars. 2024 will be no different! The Minor Leagues are littered with high-end talent ranging from the Complex League, all the way to Triple-A. Nobody likes to be the last guy in on a player before they rise, so let’s review four prospects I’m betting to break out in 2024!


2024 Breakout Prospects


Henry Lalane (LHP, NYY)


One of the most exciting pitching prospects in the game is 19-year-old Dominican left-hander Henry Lalane from the NY Yankees organization. Lalane is no stranger to the Bronx, having been born there and sharing dual citizenship in the US and the Dominican Republic. Entering 2024, the 6’7″, 210 lb southpaw is on the verge of a massive breakout, going from a relative unknown at the start of 2023 to a top-50 prospect by the end of this season. The Yankees gave Lalane a $350k bonus as a 17-year-old in 2021, an atypical payday for a pitcher. In his first season, he battled control issues in the DSL before settling in the middle of 2022. Lalane underwent Tommy John surgery late in 2022 and missed most of the 2023 season recovering.

So, what makes Lalane so good? Let’s start with his improved command and strike-throwing ability. What was once a concern has become a significant strength, and Lalane projects to have above-average control. With a significant physical frame comes extra extension. Although Lalane has not reached his maximum extension, he is releasing the ball much closer than an average pitcher. That extension, coupled with the length in the upper half of Lalane’s body, adds deception for hitters, leaving them guessing on pitches that are exploding toward them.

Next is his arsenal, which features a three-pitch mix, including a four-seam fastball, a slider, and a changeup. His four-seam fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s and has reached 97mph. The heater has good arm side run and carries well up in the zone, but also, paints the inside corner against right-handed hitters. His slider has a sharp bite but does not always get as deep as I’d prefer. The pitch has plus potential but still needs refining. His third offering is a changeup with good depth and fading action. It sits in the mid-80s and has plenty of velocity separation from his heater.

2024 will be a big challenge for Lalane as he continues to work back from Tommy John. His improved command while maintaining velocity has me excited about his upside. This Spring will be his first venture into full-season ball, and if Lalane continues to dominate as he did in the Complex, he will burst into the top 50 and assert himself among the game’s best pitching prospects.

Juan Brito (IF, CLE)


Having Brito on my breakout list is, in a word, ironic. Ironically, his breakout may come on the heels of Nolan Jones‘ breakout to end the 2023 MLB season. Where is the irony, you ask? The Guardians traded Jones to the Rockies in November 2022 in a roster crunch, and the player they acquired from Colorado was, you guessed it, Juan Brito. The switch-hitting infielder was originally part of the 2018 International Class, nabbing a $60k bonus from the Rockies. In three seasons (2018-2022) with their organization, Brito excelled as a hitter, posting a combined batting average of around .295. Brito added a career-high 17 stolen bases in 2022, but the power never fully developed, hitting just 17 combined home runs over the three seasons.

Upon arriving at the Guardians’ organization, Brito had a mini power surge. He finished 2023 with a .271/.377/.434 slash line, adding in 14 homers, seven steals, and 46 extra-base hits in 127 games. As he had in the past, Brito walked almost as much as he struck out (78:88) and posted a combined 151 runs and RBIs. The most encouraging part of his production is that Brito did it playing in the Midwest, as opposed to the hitter-friendly environments in the Cal League.

When I see Brito, I think back to another switch-hitting Guardians’ infielder, AsdrĂşbal Cabrera. Both players have a similar build, standing around 6 feet tall with a strong lower half. They have nearly identical swings as well. Both are short and compact through the zone while finishing with a big hip turn at the end. While I’m not sure Brito ever reaches the 25-homer plateau like Cabrera, I am confident he produces a higher, more consistent batting average.

Also, Brito is a much more patient hitter who consistently gets on base at a high rate, something Cabrera did not achieve. The significant difference in their profile is that Brito struggles while hitting from the right side. Across three levels in 2023, Brito batted .213 with a .289 SLG versus left-handed pitching, while Cabrera posted a well-rounded split from both sides of the plate, with his power coming primarily as a left-handed hitter.

Brito had just five at-bats in Triple-A to end last season and figures to return to Columbus this Spring. His defensive versatility (2B, SS, OF) only adds to his profile and gives him more opportunities to earn his way to the big leagues. While the defense isn’t his best tool, his bat is, and the bat will carry Brito. I love Brito as a breakout entering 2024, and he is well on his way to becoming a household name.


Jackson Ferris (LHP, LAD)


Ferris finds himself in a similar spot as Brito entering 2024, as he recently joined a new organization, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ferris was shipped by the Cubs to LA with Zyhir Hope in exchange for top-50 prospect Michael Busch. While Busch gets to prove himself in the Majors, Ferris has an ideal landing spot for a pitching prospect with his talent. The Cubs selected Ferris with the 47th overall pick in 2022, grabbing the highest-rated prep left-hander in the Draft. Ferris was a star at IMG Academy in Florida. According to MLBPipeline, Ferris had a no-hitter and perfect game in his first two HS starts and proceeded to outduel Andrew Painter in the weeks following. Ferris came to the Minors with a reputation for having plus stuff but with ongoing control issues.

In 2023, Ferris, a 6-foot-4 left-hander, made his professional debut for Single-A Myrtle Beach. Over 18 starts, Ferris tossed 56 innings with a 3.38 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, striking out 32.5% of the hitters he faced while walking nearly 14%. He generated a 30% Whiff rate, a 13% Swinging Strike rate, and a 28.5% CSW. 

The volatility in Ferris’ game comes from his control or lack thereof. From the left side, Ferris has some deception, mainly generated by a “Kershaw”-like hitch in his delivery. Just after Ferris lifts his front leg and starts to place it down, he has a slight hesitation that offers a bit of a timing issue for hitters.

His stuff is electric when he’s going right. Ferris’ four-seam fastball sits in the mid-90s and has reached 98mph. It explodes out of his hand and plays well up in the zone. His second offering is a filthy 12-6 curveball. The velocity is in the mid-70s, but it has outstanding depth and is versatile. At times, the curveball will fall off the table but can sweep away from LHH and to the back foot of RHH. The last pitch is a changeup. The changeup is a work in progress, and developing that pitch could hold the key to Ferris’ future ceiling.

The biggest reason for my steadfastness in Ferris’ breakout is the pairing with the Dodgers. The organization has an extensive track record of maximizing its prospect’s talents, especially pitchers. The team has pitchers Emmett Sheehan, Gavin Stone, Michael Grove, Landon Knack, River Ryan, Nick Frasso, and Kyle Hurt on the verge of the big leagues. That list does not include Bobby Miller, Dustin May, or Tony Gonsolin, who are already in the Majors, or Nick Nastrini, Ryan Pepiot, Josiah Gray, and Mitch White, who are now in the Majors with other organizations. Of them, Bobby Miller was the only first-round pick. I love the potential of Ferris, and I hope to see the continued growth of his command. One improvement can push Ferris near the top of the pitching prospect hierarchy.

Writer’s Note: Looking back at Kershaw’s brief time in the minor leagues, I see a similar pattern of wildness with the high strikeout rates. In no way am I intending to compare them. I’m more so thinking out loud about Ferris and the hesitation. The more I see him, the more I notice that he rushes through his mechanics, and that’s when he struggles with command. 




Druw Jones (OF, ARI)

When the Diamondbacks took Druw Jones with the 2nd overall pick in the 2022 Draft, I would have never imagined I’d be waiting for his breakout. Jones and Jackson Holliday were 1A and 1B atop that draft class, with both having an exciting pedigree as the sons of baseball All-Stars. The path to stardom for Holliday began on day one, but Jones’ was quickly derailed by injury. Following the Draft, Jones injured his shoulder before he could debut in the Minors, which set off a series of unfortunate events that had Jones right back where he started. In 2023, Jones had multiple leg injuries that limited him to just 41 games across three levels. Jones has never had the opportunity to show his talent, let alone breakout. 

When Jones was on the field last season, he hit just .238 with two homers and nine steals. While trying to shake off the rust, Jones had a 30.6% strikeout rate, which may remain his Achilles heel. There are concerns about his swing mechanics, particularly his timing. As mentioned here, much of the scrutiny has surrounded his overzealous front foot and its impact on his body flying open. Despite the swing-and-miss concerns, Jones remains one of the most talented players in the Minors. 

When Jones was rated pre-draft, there were two double-plus skills on his profile: speed and defense. At 6’4, 190lbs, Jones is incredibly athletic and has elite instincts in the outfield. Some in the organization feel he’s already their best defender, regardless of position. As I mentioned, his hit tool is in question, while his power profile is more enticing. His exit velocities on the prospect circuit were respectable, reaching a max EV of 105mph. To date, his power has been more opposite-field focused, while his power to the pull side has predominantly been on the ground. Could this be shoulder-related, or is this a slower adjustment to higher-caliber pitching? 

Some areas must improve, but there are still plenty of tools at Jones’ disposal to push him to the next level. This season is crucial for Jones. He doesn’t HAVE to break out for 2024 to be successful. Jones has to prove he can stay on the field. Injuries happen, but Jones has missed a significant portion of his professional development, especially at age 19. By this time next season, I’m hopeful that Jones will ascend back to a top-25 prospect and have a more optimistic outlook for his future.


Martin Sekulski

Martin is a Dynasty writer for PitcherList. He is a lifelong member of Red Sox Nation and attributes his love of baseball to his father, Marty. As a father and a husband, Martin now loves sharing his love of America's pastime with his family. You can find his work on Twitter and SubStack

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Account / Login