Few prospects in recent memory have ascended as quickly as Jackson Chourio, who was signed by the Brewers in 2021 at age 16, reached Double-A in 2022 at age 18 and logged his first time at the Triple-A level in 2023 at age 19. He appears to be on the verge of making an impact in the Majors in 2024, perhaps as early as Opening Day.
Chourio could be on a fast track to the big leagues after the Brewers signed him to an eight-year contract with club options in 2032 and 2033, making the youngster just the sixth player with zero days of MLB service time to sign an extension.
Here’s what you need to know about MLB’s No. 2 overall prospect.
MLB organization: Brewers
Birthdate: March 11, 2004 (Age 20 in 2024)
Primary position: OF
Height/weight: 6-foot-1, 165 lbs.
Hometown: Maracaibo, Venezuela
Signed: Jan. 15, 2021 (by MIL)
Destined for stardom
Chourio’s baseball acumen has shown up early and often. Under the tutelage of his father, a former baseball player also named Jackson, the Venezuela native picked up baseball at a young age and immediately was a natural. His prowess was so evident that the Brewers signed him to a monster $1.8 million deal at the ripe age of 16 back in January 2021.
Unsurprisingly, his youth has been a common theme in his achievements since then. He was the youngest participant at the Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game in Los Angeles in 2022, as the only participant born as recently as 2004. He was also the youngest prospect in MLB Pipeline's Top 25 prior to the 2023 season and is the fifth-youngest as of December 2023.
Dominant first full season in Minors
In his brief but dominant Minor League tenure, Chourio has proven that the hype is no fluke. Months after he signed with the Brewers, Chourio had an impressive showing at age 17 in the Dominican Summer League, hitting .296/.386/.447 with five home runs and a 28/23 K/BB ratio over 45 games.
But the real breakout came a year later, when Chourio earned MVP of the Single-A Carolina League despite being promoted to High-A, and then Double-A, later in the same season. Chourio was also named the Carolina League’s top Major League prospect, after a 62-game Single-A outing in which he batted .324 with 23 doubles, five triples, 12 home runs, 47 RBIs and 10 steals.
For the entire year, Chourio batted .288 with 30 doubles, five triples, 20 homers, 75 RBIs, 75 runs and 16 steals in 99 games between Carolina, High-A Wisconsin (31 games) and Double-A Biloxi (6 games), finishing 2022 as the youngest full-season player in Minor League Baseball.
Continuing his ascent
Chourio continued to burnish his impressive Minor League résumé in 2023, playing most of the season with Double-A Biloxi before making the leap to Triple-A Nashville for six games late in the campaign.
He ended up hitting .282 with 22 home runs, 91 RBIs, 44 stolen bases and an .805 OPS over 128 games between the two levels, becoming only the fifth teenager to produce a 20-homer, 40-steal season in the Minors since 1958.
At season's end, Chourio was named to the MLB Pipeline Prospect Team of the Year as a second-team selection.
But Chourio wasn't done. He went on to tear up the Venezuelan Winter League to the tune of a .379/.453/.530 slash over 75 plate appearances spanning 17 games.
“An Acuña type of player”
With such great numbers come great expectations, as the baseball world has not shied away from projecting Chourio for future stardom. McCalvy wrote that the 19-year-old “is the most hyped Brewers prospect in years”, and that mindset has been matched by those who have shared a locker room with him.
“He’s a hitter, man. It’s not hard to see,” Brewers then-manager Craig Counsell said after Chourio hit two doubles in an exhibition win over Great Britain’s World Baseball Classic team in March 2023. “He put up four good at-bats. That’s impressive in itself, no matter if you’re highly touted or not. He’s a good baseball player with an extremely bright future ahead of him.”
“Right now, he's a different guy,” said Victor Estevez, Chourio’s then-manager at Single-A Carolina, in July 2022. “I compare him to a Ronald Acuña Jr. type of player. Any of those young guys who made it to the big leagues early, I compare him to those types of players, to be honest.”
Acuña, another Venezuelan outfielder who also climbed to the Single-A level for the first time at 18 years old, ended up making his MLB debut before turning 21. If Chourio is able to do the same by reaching the big leagues in 2024, he would become the first Milwaukee position player to play at age 20 or younger since nine-time All-Star Gary Sheffield did so back in the late 1980s.
Still developing, with Dad’s help
What can’t Chourio do? The list is slim, as he ranks above-average via the MLB 20-to-80 scouting scale in hitting, power, running, and fielding. He told MLB.com that his favorite aspect of the game is hitting, and that was backed up by Brewers vice president of player operations and baseball administration Tom Flanagan, who said in 2022 that Chourio’s “damage [to the baseball] is off the charts.”
According to MLB Pipeline, Chourio's "still-developing plate discipline and zone coverage" was keeping him "from being the gold standard among position-player prospects" entering 2023.
However, he showed improvement in that area last season with the help of his most trusted coach of all: his father, who watches every game on MILB.tv.
“Every time we have a conversation, he's telling me, ‘They’re just pitching outside to you. You better make an adjustment,’” said Chourio in 2022.“‘You’re swinging at those pitches in the dirt.’ Every time I call my dad, we have a really good conversation about every single at-bat.”
After striking out in 26.9% of his plate appearances in 2022, Chourio trimmed his strikeout rate to 17.8% in '23 while holding his walk rate steady at 7.4%.
(B)all in the family
Jackson Chourio isn’t the only one who has been helped out by Dad’s advice. There’s another MLB prospect in his immediate family -- and believe it or not, the other one is even younger than him.
Jackson’s younger brother, Jaison Chourio, doesn’t turn 19 until May 2024, and he is already in the Guardians organization, having played 88 games in their system across 2022-23. Jaison, another outfielder, was also 16 when he signed his first professional contract, and his contract came at a hefty price of $1.2 million, the largest bonus of that year’s Guardians international signing class.