When the Biloxi Shuckers open their 2023 season Friday night against Pensacola, they’ll do so with the top-rated prospect in all of baseball batting in the leadoff spot.
Hours before first pitch, Baseball America magazine named 19-year-old outfielder Jackson Chourio its top prospect after two players ranked ahead of him to start the season — the Diamondbacks’ Corbin Carroll and Baltimore’s Gunner Henderson — recorded their 130th big-league at-bats, disqualifying them from prospect status.
While it may seem like a mere technicality, Chourio’s ascension to the top seemed like a mere matter of time.
Milwaukee signed the then-17-year-old as an international free agent in January 2021, and he slashed .296/.386/.447 in 45 games with the Brewers’ Dominican Summer League affiliate.
He opened last season at Low-A Carolina, where he batted .324 in 62 games, which earned him the first of two promotions as well as an invitation to participate in the All-Star Futures Game at Dodger Stadium.
Overall, Chourio slashed .288/.342/.538 with 30 doubles, 20 home runs, 75 RBIs and 16 stolen bases in 99 games combined for Carolina, High-A Wisconsin and Double-A Biloxi.
In addition to the All-Star honor, Chourio was named the Southern League’s Most Valuable Player for his performance with Carolina as well as the Brewers’ Minor League Player of the Year.
His performance impressed Brewers manager Craig Counsell, who said he wasn’t ruling out the possibility that Chourio, despite his age, could even reach the big leagues at some point in 2023.
“I don’t know why [not],” Counsell said during an offseason fan event. “I think he did so much that why would you say you’re not open to it?”
Chourio was invited to big-league camp and appeared in eight Cactus League games, batting .167 with a walk, two strikeouts and a stolen base in 13 plate appearances before he was assigned to Biloxi.
Class AA Biloxi Shuckers
2022 record: 67-68 (3rd, South Division)
Home Field: MGM Park (Opened – 2015; Capacity – 4,500)
Manager: Mike Gurrero (Seventh season)
Coaches: Bench – Nick Stanley; Hitting – Chuckie Caufield; Pitching – Will Schierholz; Bullpen – Josh Spence
Pitchers (16): Robbie Baker, Nick Bennett, Harold Chirino, Justin Jarvis, Brandon Knarr, James Meeker, Christian Mejias, Ryan Middendorf, Tobias Myers, Carlos Rodriguez, Adam Seminaris, T.J. Shook, Darrell Thompson, Abner Uribe, Zach Vennaro, Justin Yeager
Catchers (4): Wes Clarke, Nick Kahle, Jason Lopez, Jeferson Quero
Infielders (7): Tyler Black, Noah Campbell, Isaac Collins, Ethan Murray, Felix Valerio, Zavier Warren, Freddy Zamora
Outfielders (4): Jackson Chourio, Tristen Lutz, Carlos Rodriguez, Lamar Sparks