Cleveland Guardians Top 50 Prospects by Eric Longenhagen January 20, 2023 Jeff Lange / USA TODAY NETWORK Top Prospects Team Lists 2023 2022 ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Cleveland Guardians. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. This is the third year we’re delineating between two anticipated relief roles, the abbreviations for which you’ll see in the “position” column below: MIRP for multi-inning relief pitchers, and SIRP for single-inning relief pitchers. The ETAs listed generally correspond to the year a player has to be added to the 40-man roster to avoid being made eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Manual adjustments are made where they seem appropriate, but I use that as a rule of thumb. A quick overview of what FV (Future Value) means can be found here. A much deeper overview can be found here. All of the ranked prospects below also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It has more details (and updated TrackMan data from various sources) than this article and integrates every team’s list so readers can compare prospects across farm systems. It can be found here. Guardians Top Prospects Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV 1 Daniel Espino 22.0 AA SP 2023 60 2 Bo Naylor 22.9 MLB C 2023 50 3 Brayan Rocchio 22.0 AAA SS 2023 50 4 Logan Allen 24.4 AAA SP 2024 50 5 Tanner Bibee 23.9 AA SP 2024 50 6 Gavin Williams 23.5 AA SP 2025 45+ 7 George Valera 22.2 AAA RF 2023 45 8 Angel Martinez 21.0 AA SS 2024 45 9 Chase DeLauter 21.3 R RF 2027 45 10 Gabriel Arias 22.9 MLB SS 2023 45 11 Justin Campbell 21.9 R SP 2026 45 12 Juan Brito 21.3 A 2B 2024 45 13 Welbyn Francisca 16.7 R 2B 2029 45 14 Parker Messick 22.2 R SP 2026 45 15 Jhonkensy Noel 21.5 AAA 1B 2023 40+ 16 Jaison Chourio 17.7 R RF 2027 40+ 17 Angel Genao 18.7 A SS 2027 40+ 18 Cody Morris 26.2 MLB MIRP 2023 40+ 19 Jacob Zibin 18.0 R SP 2027 40+ 20 Ethan Hankins 22.7 A SP 2024 40+ 21 Davis Sharpe 23.0 A+ MIRP 2025 40+ 22 Will Brennan 25.0 MLB CF 2023 40 23 Xzavion Curry 24.5 MLB SP 2023 40 24 Wuilfredo Antunez 20.7 A CF 2025 40 25 Joey Cantillo 23.1 AA SP 2023 40 26 Tim Herrin 26.3 AAA SIRP 2023 40 27 Trenton Denholm 23.1 A SP 2025 40 28 Petey Halpin 20.7 A+ CF 2025 40 29 Bryan Lavastida 24.1 MLB C 2023 40 30 Yerlin Luis 17.4 R LF 2029 40 31 Jose Tena 21.8 AAA SS 2024 40 32 Milan Tolentino 21.2 A+ SS 2025 40 33 Dayan Frias 20.6 A SS 2024 40 34 Jack Leftwich 24.3 A+ SP 2025 40 35 Juan Benjamin 19.7 A 2B 2025 40 36 Will Dion 22.8 A+ SP 2025 40 37 Hunter Gaddis 24.8 MLB MIRP 2023 40 38 Jake Miller 22.5 A SP 2025 40 39 Joe Lampe 22.1 A CF 2027 40 40 Peyton Battenfield 25.4 AAA MIRP 2023 35+ 41 Isaiah Greene 21.4 A LF 2025 35+ 42 Doug Nikhazy 23.4 AA MIRP 2025 35+ 43 Tanner Burns 24.1 AA SP 2024 35+ 44 Tommy Mace 24.2 A+ SP 2025 35+ 45 Tyler Thornton 22.5 A SIRP 2025 35+ 46 Nick Mikolajchak 25.2 AAA SIRP 2024 35+ 47 Andrew Misiaszek 25.4 AAA MIRP 2023 35+ 48 Javier Santos 19.6 R SP 2027 35+ 49 Nate Furman 21.5 R 2B 2027 35+ 50 Jake Fox 19.9 A 2B 2026 35+ Reading Options Detail Level Data Only Full Position Filter All All C 1B 2B SS LF CF RF SP SIRP MIRP 60 FV Prospects 1. Daniel Espino, SP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Georgai Premier Academy (GA) (CLE) Age 22.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 80/80 60/70 55/60 45/55 45/50 97-100 / 102 Born in Panama, Espino had the best arm strength among the high school pitchers in the 2019 draft, but concerns about his delivery and arsenal depth dropped him to the 24th overall pick. His stuff has gotten even better under the tutelage of Cleveland’s player dev system, and he dominated during his 2021 full season debut, putting up a strikeout rate north of 40% while shortening his arm action and altering his slot to impart more vertical movement on his heater. Espino had taken another leap at the onset of 2022, sitting in the 98-102 mph range with a fastball that sometimes had 20-23 inches of vertical break during the spring. He dominated Double-A for a month before he was shut down with a knee injury at the end of April, and he started having shoulder issues during his rehab. Even though beat writers reported that he had begun throwing again in June, Espino didn’t pitch in games for the rest of the year. He has been working out in Panama during the offseason and a club source confirmed he is a full-go for spring training 2023, the start of his 40-man evaluation year. To grade a pitcher who spent basically the whole year injured this highly is perhaps ill-advised, but Espino is a physical freak with exceptional talent and drive, and this is as much a bet on his demeanor and makeup as it is his ability. More striking than his velocity itself is the ease with which Espino generates it. Even as he has become more and more muscular entering his 20s, he has maintained a freaky level of flexibility, which he attained by stretching four times per day. His slider can bend in as hard as 94 mph and has late, two-plane finish. It would be an above-average pitch were it simply in the low-to-mid-80s, but at this velocity, it’s a 70-grade weapon, and Espino has consistent feel for locating it down and to his glove side. His curveball has 12-6 shape and plus depth and power, used as a way of garnering called, early-count strikes, and the speed with which he has developed two distinct breaking balls despite pitching just one full minor league season is incredible. The curve has enough depth to have bat-missing utility below the zone and generate groundballs even when hitters sniff it out in mid-air. Espino barely throws his low-90s changeup, but he still has good feel for locating it in an enticing location away from lefty batters, and even that and his rarely-used curveball (combined, he threw those pitches 8% of the time in 2021) could be above average at maturity. The 2023 slate will be about rebuilding an innings count (and maintaining elite velocity throughout) that would allow Espino to trampoline into a big league rotation role next season. He was on pace to do so before the injury bug bit him in 2022. He has top-of-the-rotation stuff, and probably belongs in this FV tier even if he ends up in the bullpen, where he’d become one of the game’s deadliest closers. 50 FV Prospects 2. Bo Naylor, C Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from St. Joan of Arc HS (CAN) (CLE) Age 22.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 55/60 45/55 55/50 40/45 45 Naylor’s 2022 rebound is a great example of why it’s prudent to give catchers with any sort of offensive potential more developmental grace than their peers. He was coming off a putrid 2021 in which he hit just .188, the first severe offensive struggles of a career that, to that point, had been all about offensive performance. In a 2022 split evenly between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus, he slashed an impressive .263/.392/.496 with 21 homers and 20 steals, walking nearly as much as he struck out while with the Rubber Ducks. To call Naylor’s 2022 a return to form isn’t exactly correct, however, because much of his resurgence was due to swing alterations that made his bat path a little more variable, which he outlined in an interview with our own David Laurila. There are still visual and underlying statistical indications that Naylor is going to end up with a below-average hit tool (his swing is so uphill that he’ll almost certainly be vulnerable to whiffs in the strike zone), but he has very impressive bat speed and power (especially for a catcher) that is weaponized by his selective approach, which targets the up-and-in quadrant of the zone. Naylor’s speed is also rare for a catcher. His stolen base total itself is not an indication of speed, but Naylor is running home-to-first as fast as 4.10, which is a plus run time, and he should swipe double-digit bases in his physical prime, relevant for fantasy-playing readers. Naylor’s defense is still pretty rough around the edges. He’s an okay receiver and framer, catching on one knee with the bases empty, utilizing a traditional crouch with two strikes and with runners on base. He sometimes sets up to block breaking balls too quickly, tipping off baserunners and peeking hitters to what’s coming. The lateral agility to block pitches in the dirt is obviously here, though Naylor is sometimes late getting to the ground. His 2022 throwing was not quite as good as previous notes indicate, with lots of one-hoppers to the bag or throws sailing on him, though Naylor’s pop times remain close to average. These are things that need some developmental love before Naylor can assume the primary catching role in Cleveland, but he’s young and athletic enough to project that they’ll be worthy of that mantle relatively soon. Cleveland added him to their 40-man toward the end of last year but never optioned him, which means he still has three option years left for those defensive skills to percolate. There’s no present danger that he needs to revisit third base (which he played plenty of in high school and early in pro ball) or anything like that, and Naylor continues to project as a 2-WAR primary catcher. 3. Brayan Rocchio, SS Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (CLE) Age 22.0 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/60 40/45 40/45 45/45 40/50 50 Rocchio’s calling card is still his switch-hitting offensive ability, specifically his bat-to-ball skills, which have made him a 50 FV mainstay since he finished his first domestic pro season. He’s coming off another terrific offensive year, slashing .257/.336/.420 as a 21-year-old at Akron with about a month of Columbus thrown in, and setting a career-high in homers (18) for the second straight season. The batting average component was down a little due to his .241 BABIP at Columbus, but otherwise 2022 was another standard Rocchio season with the stick. He has a surprisingly authoritative left-handed cut for a player of his stature and shows you lovely all-fields ability to hit, snatching hanging breaking balls and inner-third fastballs to his pull side and spraying lots of middle-away fastballs to the opposite field. He’s not quite as deft a hitter from the right side but is still plenty dangerous. This isn’t an iron clad offensive profile (there’s some vulnerability to up-and-away fastballs as a LHH and slightly more chase than average), but Rocchio is a damn fine hitter who looked like his usual self in what was his first season on the Cleveland 40-man. That was not the case on defense, however. Especially in the Venezuelan Winter League, Rocchio has been struggling (and perhaps regressing) in the field. He has lost some range as his compact, ovular frame has filled out and matured, and shockingly his hands and arm accuracy (even from second base) were both concerningly bad in Venezuela. Watch film back into the 2022 regular season and Rocchio’s issues aren’t as severe, but it’s still a mixed bag on defense. His actions are lightning quick, but his range, ability to bend, the suredeness of his hands, and his arm accuracy all look less consistent. It’s possible he was gassed from playing a career-high 132 games during the regular season, and these issues are uncharacteristic of Rocchio. But they’re severe enough to dial down the previously plus grades on Rocchio’s defense and consider him a future average shortstop, while keeping an eye on how he looks there this spring. While he was closer to the 50/55 FV line last offseason, the snapshot of the defensive piece of the puzzle pulls him more comfortably into the 50s for this list cycle, one of many Guardians upper-level middle infielders with the talent to be an everyday player. 4. Logan Allen, SP Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2020 from Florida International (CLE) Age 24.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / L FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Splitter Cutter Command Sits/Tops 55/55 50/55 60/60 40/50 55/60 89-92 / 94 Allen was an undersized, pitchability high school lefty who worked 88-92 mph with mostly average secondary stuff and a changeup that flashed plus. He matriculated to Florida Atlantic, where the Owls considered him athletic enough to deploy as a two-way player during his freshman season before he focused more on pitching in 2019 and ’20. Allen sat 88-90 again as a junior and then, like many Cleveland pitching prospects, enjoyed a two-tick bump pretty quickly, sitting 90-93 throughout his first full season in pro ball, a velocity he maintained across 110 innings, many more than he had thrown during the pandemic-shortened year. That continued in 2022 when Allen reached Triple-A and put himself in position to claim a rotation spot this season should the need arise. His split/changeup is still his best pitch, but Allen has undergone a stylistic change and now takes a power pitcher’s approach with his fastball, ripping it past hitters at the letters with a high-effort delivery despite its mediocre velocity. Allen’s fastball has other traits that help it punch above its weight, and he commands it with machine-like regularity to the locations in which it is most effective. He’s short, he gets way down the mound (which helps create shallow angle on the pitch), and even though he has a three-quarters arm slot, his hand position is more north/south on release, which helps him create backspin and ride on the fastball. It plays as an above-average offering even though Allen’s raw arm strength is comfortably below average. His split/changeup (it only has about 1,300 rpm of spin, definitely in split territory) has plus sinking action, but the direction of its lateral movement is highly variable. At times, it has typical sink and tail; at others, it has sink and careens toward Allen’s glove side like a slider. Speaking of the slider, Allen’s has gotten much better in pro ball. His arm angle makes it naturally tough on lefties but its utility is limited against righties, which is likely what caused Cleveland and Allen to work on a cutter that is still in the nascent stages of development. Lefties with plus command and plus changeups tend to overachieve and Allen is exactly that, poised to play a mid-rotation role relatively soon. 5. Tanner Bibee, SP Drafted: 5th Round, 2021 from Cal State Fullerton (CLE) Age 23.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/55 60/60 45/45 45/50 55/60 93-96 / 97 Bibee was a notable West Coast pitchability prospect for a while, but he never took a step forward at Fullerton and was passed over completely in the shortened 2020 draft. As a fourth-year junior in 2021, he was still sitting 88-92 mph, with his fastball velocity sometimes drifting as low as 86 mph in a given start. He still threw a ton of strikes and went in the fifth round of the 2021 draft, projecting as a high-floor, low-ceiling depth starter based on his command. What a difference a year makes. By the middle of 2022, Bibee was sitting 95. He also altered his breaking ball usage (more sliders, fewer curves) and increased his changeup frequency, and was so advanced from a pitchability standpoint that Cleveland quickly saw fit to send him to Akron, where he spent most of his first pro season. Bibee seems to have altered his stride direction so that he isn’t landing quite as closed as he was at Fullerton, which appears to enable him to stay behind the baseball a little better, creating riding action on a fastball that wasn’t previously as explosive. He also appears to have reshaped his body somewhat, which may have contributed to the uptick in arm strength. The improved fastball utility and Bibee’s slider command give him two major league-ready weapons, while his delivery’s consistency and his long standing feel to pitch generate optimism around the continued growth of his changeup, which he’s using more often now than when he was in college. It can be tough to turn over a changeup from his arm slot, but that slot is also part of how Bibee creates depth on his curveball, which has become a show-me pitch that he lands in the zone at will. He doesn’t have to be put on the 40-man until after the 2024 season, but the rate at which he has been promoted so far indicates he’ll be in the mix for a rotation spot sooner than that. Bibee now looks like a polished mid-rotation prospect. 45+ FV Prospects 6. Gavin Williams, SP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from East Carolina (CLE) Age 23.5 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 255 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 60/60 55/60 50/55 40/45 40/50 95-98 / 101 Williams’ injury history and the relative violence of his delivery keep him just outside the 50 FV tier here, even though he had a strong pro debut and spent most of the year at Double-A Akron, checking the talent and proximity boxes rather emphatically. He dealt with a litany of issues as an amateur, as benign as a fractured finger and as severe as back issues that had some teams drop him from their draft boards. The progress Williams made at ECU amid these issues (some of which date back to high school) was remarkable. He worked in the 89-93 mph range as a high schooler, then exploded in college, hitting 100 mph as a freshman and sustaining upper-90s velocity when he finally moved to the rotation as a fourth-year junior in 2021. He was sitting 95-99 mph throughout entire outings, and punched out at least eight hitters in each of his final 11 starts, culminating in a 13 K postseason outing against Vanderbilt when his stock reached its pinnacle. While there were some pre-draft industry concerns about the balky back, Williams’ innings-eating frame, his intense on-mound presence, and the ferocity of his stuff made him a slam dunk first round prospect. His slider execution is especially consistent, though his curveball has the more visually pleasing movement. Increased changeup emphasis, which was already evident during Williams’ first instructs, has occurred in pro ball, and while Williams’ meal ticket is still his mid-90s fastball, which he rips past hitters at the letters, he has three viable weapons right now and might have a fourth as his changeup develops. It’s a mid-rotation starter’s stuff, and healthy Williams should produce as such at the big league level, though the pitchers who tend to get hurt are the ones who have been hurt in the past, and there’s enough of a track record here to alter how Williams lines up with similarly talented peers. 45 FV Prospects 7. George Valera, RF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (CLE) Age 22.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/35 55/60 45/55 50/50 50/55 60 Valera’s pull-side power and ball/strike discipline make for a potent combination. In his age-21 season, he hit .250/.353/.463 split 70/30 between Double- and Triple-A, scooping out 24 homers and accruing 52 extra-base hits in what was Valera’s first completely healthy, full season in pro baseball. While he’s a little stiff-looking in the box and his swing sometimes has an odd, truncated finish, his thunderous pull-side power makes him a dangerous hitter to make a mistake against. Execute in the right location, though, and you can get Valera out. There are some underlying red flags surrounding his ability to make contact, and unless you want to make a significant age-related adjustment to how you’re projecting his bat at maturity, they should temper expectations around his offensive forecast. He ran a sub-70% contact rate and a 73% in-zone rate in 2022. It’s rare for a hitter to make such infrequent contact and still be a productive big leaguer. Contemporary players with similar contact rates (Giancarlo Stanton, Adolis García, Joey Gallo, Jose Siri, Franchy Cordero, Jo Adell) are at the bottom of the big league leaderboard in these rate stat categories, and all have experienced at least some amount of volatility and streakiness, if not outright struggled. There have been Valera skeptics in baseball for a while, and his swing has seemed vulnerable at the top of the strike zone throughout his career, but because lower-level pitchers don’t have the velocity or command to exploit that regularly, and because injuries and the pandemic limited the sample of data Valera produced, it wasn’t until this year that the two overlapped and exposed the issue. It is severe enough to slide Valera out of the Top 100 but not enough to expect him to “bust” — he does have plus power and on-base skill, after all. Instead, he projects as the larger half of a corner outfield platoon who also has some match-up limitations against righties with ride/run fastballs. 8. Angel Martinez, SS Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (CLE) Age 21.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 186 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/50 40/45 30/40 55/55 45/50 60 Martinez projects as a high-probability utilityman because of his versatile glove and switch-hitting contact ability. He reached Akron in his age-20 season, slashing .278/.378/.471 and finishing up as one of the younger players in the Arizona Fall League. Whether you think Martinez can become a true everyday player depends on whether you think he will have more power at maturity. Because he’s lacking in traditional frame-based projection and body composition, he is evaluated here as if that won’t happen. Each of Martinez’s swings generate all-fields line drive and groundball contact, so even if he does get stronger, it may take a swing tweak to actualize that power. His twitch and athleticism are fits at shortstop, and because he’s part of such a huge crop of middle infielders in their early 20s, Martinez has seen action all over the infield and is capable at second and third base, though he barely played the latter in 2022. He’s behind the slightly older middle infielders on the depth chart after having been added to the 40-man in the offseason, and barring a catastrophic series of injuries, he’ll likely spend 2023 using his first option year at Double- and Triple-A. 9. Chase DeLauter, RF Drafted: 1st Round, 2022 from James Madison (CLE) Age 21.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/55 60/60 35/55 45/40 35/55 60 DeLauter was a fascinating draft case because he barely played regular season ball at JMU due to injury (a broken foot ended his 2022 season), crushed the Cape prior to his draft year, and had a rough time hitting early in his draft spring before correcting things against smaller-conference pitching. He was also shy of 21 years old on draft day. Because of that and his Cape performance, it seemed likely model-driven teams were going to be all over him, so it’s unsurprising that Cleveland landed him in the first round. Though he’s best at golfing out low pitches, DeLauter is also capable of taking pitches on the outer third deep to the opposite field, and he shows flashes of shortening up, ripping his top hand through, and impacting pitches near the top of the strike zone. A truncated finish underscores DeLauter’s general stiffness, and his swing looked extremely out of whack at the beginning of the 2022 NCAA season, but was more natural looking later on. Plus raw power weaponizes this advanced feel for contact, while DeLauter’s on-paper performance (.386/.508/.723 as a red-shirt freshman at JMU, .298/.397/.589 on Cape Cod, .437/.576/.828 in 24 games as a junior) reinforces confidence in his feel to hit despite facing small conference pitching. Though he held his own playing center field on the Cape, DeLauter’s home-to-first times (typically close to 4.3, a 40-grade time from the left side) indicate he and his plus arm will end up in right field. There’s something about his swing that looks odd and unnatural, but DeLauter otherwise looks like a middle-of-the-order bat from a tools perspective. He didn’t play pro ball after the draft. 10. Gabriel Arias, SS Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (SDP) Age 22.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 217 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/30 60/60 40/50 45/45 55/60 60 Arias was part of San Diego’s huge 2016 international signing class, inking a deal worth just shy of $2 million. He quickly became the most promising of the young infielders the club signed that year and was pushed to full season ball late during his age-17 season, well out ahead of the others in his class. After a rough statistical 2018 as a very young player at Low-A Fort Wayne, Arias had great seasons on paper in ’19 and ’21, the latter coming after Cleveland had acquired him from San Diego as part of the Mike Clevinger trade and skipped him over Double-A. He hit .284/.348/.454 as a 21-year-old with Columbus before regressing in 2022, when he essentially repeated the level. Injuries and ineffectiveness at first base on the Guardians’ big league roster pressed Arias into action at an unfamiliar position during their playoff series with the Yankees. He then picked up about a month’s worth of games in Puerto Rico during the winter. Arias’ approach and hit tool scare scouts and analysts, but he’s grown into considerable power as his body has matured, and this has occurred without detracting from his fantastic infield defense. He is extremely strong for a legit defensive shortstop — you can see Arias’ lats through his jersey for goodness sake — and while he doesn’t have especially precise feel for contact, he tends to smoke the balls he does put in play. His 43% hard-hit rate in 2022 would have been in the top five among qualified big league shortstops, it’s just that Arias’ hardest contact tends to be on the ground. Chase and whiff prone in the zone, this looks like a player who’ll wind up with a 30-grade hit tool and run career OBPs in the .290-.310 range. Willy Adames is a wildly successful version of this kind of skill set, but his rate contact stats and the lift in his swing are both superior to Arias’, so that’s definitely not a comp. Instead, Arias’ glove is likely to be what dictates his role as a utility infielder with an atypical skill set for this org. His power gives him a chance to have some peak years with 20-plus homers, maybe more if Arias can find a swing that better taps into his raw thump. 11. Justin Campbell, SP Drafted: 1st Round, 2022 from Oklahoma State (CLE) Age 21.9 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 219 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/50 45/50 50/60 30/50 91-94 / 97 Campbell entered the 2022 draft with a three-pitch mix and starter-worthy command foundation, traits that have him primed to explode if he can reach and maintain greater velocity in pro ball, which is becoming more common for college arms. The crux of Campbell’s projection in this area is his size. At a graceful 6-foot-7 (I thought his sophomore delivery was more fluid, but I’m nitpicking), Campbell releases the ball right on top of hitters and still has room to fill out. His low-90s fastball (which peaks in the 95-97 mph range) has riding life at the letters, he can turn over an above-average changeup even from his high slot, and he can create vertical depth on a pretty vanilla low-80s slider. If he can throw harder, he’ll probably end up having more of a power, mid-80s breaker. Cowboys catching also struggled to make some of Campbell’s curveballs, which would clip the bottom of the zone, look like strikes. That won’t happen as often in the big leagues (and eventually might not matter). Though he doesn’t have the command of most of the other college pitchers in this FV tier and above, we’re talking about a small forward-sized pitcher who has missed a year of reps due to the pandemic. There’s tons of abstract projection here, which is especially exciting given the org he joined. 12. Juan Brito, 2B Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (COL) Age 21.3 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 162 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/60 40/45 30/40 35/35 30/40 40 On 40-man deadline day, Cleveland traded former Top 100 prospect Nolan Jones to Colorado in exchange for Brito, who they immediately put on their roster. This was not a “kick the can down the road” trade, as Brito would have otherwise been Rule 5 eligible in December. Nor was it a “fit” trade, as the Guards are fathoms deep on the middle infield (not just on the big league roster but in the upper minors) and are arguably thin at the positions Jones plays. Instead, this deal indicates that, in some combination, Cleveland is taking the under on Jones and/or covets Brito, who is likely to spend 2023 on the 40-man in a developmental capacity, much like Brayan Rocchio, Jose Tena, and others did last season. Brito has plus hit tool projection, and even though he barely has 40-grade raw power right now (the high-end exit velocities are below average even for a player his age), the amount of contact he makes, his approach (just a 22% chase rate in 2023), and the consistency of the lift in his swing all indicate he’s going to actualize whatever raw power he grows into in games. Brito’s ability to get on top of fastballs and put the barrel on inner-third strikes is enabled, at least in part, by his super short levers, which make him tough to beat in the strike zone. He’s a compact 20-year-old without overt physical projection, and the hit tool will almost certainly have to carry his entire offensive profile, but it looks like it’s going to. Projecting second base-only types without much power can be precarious since they lack the defensive versatility to play utility roles if they don’t make enough offensive impact to justify playing second base every day, but Brito has a good chance to do just that. 13. Welbyn Francisca, 2B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2023 from Dominican Republic (CLE) Age 16.7 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr S / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/70 35/45 20/45 55/50 30/50 40 Perhaps the most entertaining hitter from the 2023 international class, Francisca is a switch-hitting bat control savant. He can alter his footwork and bat path to put the barrel on just about anything. Arm strength may limit him to second base, but the bat is the carrying tool here. He didn’t get as much money as lots of the other highly-ranked players in the class, but Francisca’s switch-hitting and up-the-middle fit make him one of its better all-around profiles. He’s the sort of player Cleveland targets in the amateur space, especially internationally. 14. Parker Messick, SP Drafted: 2nd Round, 2022 from Florida State (CLE) Age 22.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 235 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/45 45/50 40/40 60/70 35/60 89-92 / 94 The stout Messick is an advanced pitchability lefty (144 strikeouts and 18 walks in 98 innings as a junior) with a plus changeup and a fastball that doesn’t have true carry, but he feasted off its flat angle while he was with Florida State. His low arm slot and breaking ball command make his loopy slurve playable against lefty hitters. Messick’s bulky physicality probably means there’s no room for more velocity here, unless he finds it by remaking his physique in reverse, which seems plausible based on what has transpired for many pitchers in this organization. Pitchers with this kind of command and changeup tend to find a way to make a big league impact in a no. 4/5 starter capacity, and Messick’s level of polish means he’s likely to move through the minors quickly. As is standard operating procedure for newly-drafted Guardians pitchers, he didn’t pitch at an affiliate after the draft. 40+ FV Prospects 15. Jhonkensy Noel, 1B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (CLE) Age 21.5 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 250 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 70/80 50/60 30/20 30/45 55 Noel, who turned 21 in the middle of the season, split 2022 between High-A Lake County and Double-A Akron, struggling with the same things he has throughout his career while getting to his incredible power anyway. He finished with a .229/.310/.489 line, pulled down by his early-season struggles with Lake County (where he had a .286 OBP), but Noel still managed to torch 32 homers, tied for sixth in all the minor leagues. Noel rivaled Francisco Álvarez for the 2022 Futures Game’s most impressive BP session, peppering the outer reaches of Dodger Stadium’s left field bleachers with relative ease. His raw power is approaching the very top of the scale, and even though he has the measurables of an NFL edge rusher and is already physically maxed out, the he’ll probably get to 80-grade raw through maturity. It’s amazing how he can generate god-like thunder with such a simplistic swing. His hands load very shallow and he’s relatively short back to the ball, generating huge power over a short mechanical distance. While he doesn’t have a chiseled physique, he is an explosive rotational athlete, which you can see in the way his hips fire throughout his swing. His hips clear and his hands rip through the zone with big uppercut, enabling Noel to strike the baseball in the air with consistency and get to his power in games. There are some sizable red flags here. Noel’s approach is not good. He chased at a 38% clip in 2022, and it’s rare for any first base-only player (he stopped playing third after his promotion to Akron, and the early returns in LF/RF were rough) who chases that much to pan out. C.J. Cron and Luke Voit are pretty neat comps for Noel from a plate discipline and in-zone contact standpoint, and provide the template for how to value his skills in a real-world baseball setting, but fantasy players are probably going to want to juice this guy because of his power production. 16. Jaison Chourio, RF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2022 from Venezuela (CLE) Age 17.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/55 40/55 20/55 50/50 30/50 50 Cleveland’s run of young-for-the-class switch-hitters, both via the draft and in the international space, continued with Chourio, who signed in January of 2022. He spent the summer in the DSL, hitting .280/.446/.402 with nearly twice as many walks as strikeouts, before coming stateside for instructs and playing a smidge in the Venezuelan Winter League. The square-framed youngster has already added significant strength and muscle to his extremely projectable frame and flashed surprising power for a 17-and-a-half-year-old on the Arizona backfields. Chourio rips his top hand through contact with precocious authority and posted impressive exit velos for his age in the DSL. He also shows promising barrel variability, flattening out to impact pitches at the top of the zone while using his lower half to dip and barrel low ones. It’s excessive to anticipate that Chourio, who won’t turn 18 until May, will have the same meteoric rise through the minors that his brother has enjoyed, but he sure looks like a high-upside young prospect with a chance to break out in a big way over the next couple of years. 17. Angel Genao, SS Signed: July 2nd Period, 2021 from Dominican Republic (CLE) Age 18.7 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 150 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/45 35/50 20/50 50/50 45/55 55 Another switch-hitting up-the-middle player, Genao signed for just over $1 million in 2021 and spent his first pro season in the DSL before coming to the U.S. for Complex League play in 2022. He played pretty well (.322/.394/.416 — adjust in your heads for his .422 BABIP) and stood out to scouts, separating himself from most of Cleveland’s other hitters there before heading to Low-A very briefly at the end of the season. He swings quite hard for such a small player, making some mechanical compromises to do so. Genao’s swing is a little bit long, but because he’s so compact and his levers are so short, it isn’t a functionally long swing. There are still times when it takes his body so long to get his bat up to speed that he’s late getting into the hitting zone, and his 23% K% on the complex isn’t a great sign. But Genao is a defensive fit at shortstop, and is super young and still growing into his body. He won’t turn 19 until May, which probably means he’ll go to full-season ball as an 18-year-old to start the 2023 season. If strength through maturity can enable him to become more direct to the baseball, he might break out in big way. There are some scouts who have him graded in anticipation of such a breakout, and consider him a future top 100 prospect. 18. Cody Morris, MIRP Drafted: 7th Round, 2018 from South Carolina (CLE) Age 26.2 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops 60/60 50/50 60/60 50/50 40/40 92-95 / 98 Morris’ health and stuff have both come and gone dating back to when he was high schooler, and though he’s nasty when healthy, he has tended not to be. He was a power-armed prep righty from Maryland who was ushered toward college by a Tommy John surgery he rehabbed from during a redshirt first year at South Carolina. He performed well throughout both healthy seasons in Columbia, with his innings total doubling from 2017 to ’18. Cleveland shut him down after the 2018 draft, then asked him to make 20 starts (at a little over four innings per start) the following year, which is when he first popped up on our radar and Cleveland’s prospect list. Morris was throwing very hard early in 2019, but his stuff wavered late in the season. During 2020 instructs, he was again parked in the mid-90s, up to at least 98 mph, and had a plus changeup and average curveball, but this was in a controlled developmental setting after he hadn’t pitched all year. We moved Morris into the 40+ FV tier at that time as a way of indicating that he had big upside, while also factoring in the risk related to his injury track record and fluctuations in stuff. He got off to a late start in 2021 due to a strained lat, then was incredible when he first came back, punching out 36% of hitters while once again sitting 94-96 mph before dipping into the low-90s later in the year. Morris suffered a shoulder sprain during 2022 spring training and began rehabbing in July, slowly building to a month-long big league debut at the end of the season, earning a playoff roster spot in the process. Again his stuff was nasty, sitting mostly 94-95, while he made frequent use of a relatively new upper-80s cutter and finished hitters with his signature changeup. Morris’ inability to stay healthy has made it tough for him to log starter-level innings as a prospect. As with Bo Naylor, the Guardians never optioned Morris after he was initially called up, preserving all three of his option years. Having bought themselves that extra time, they could theoretically continue to develop him as a starter, but Morris is ready right now. Deploying him in relief allows him to make an immediate impact on a competitive big league club and might help keep him healthy, and you can still ramp up his workload over time via a multi-inning relief role that gives him a long-term path to being a starter. 19. Jacob Zibin, SP Drafted: 10th Round, 2022 from TNXL Academy (FL) (CLE) Age 18.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 218 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/50 50/55 45/55 20/50 92-96 / 99 Zibin reclassified from the 2023 draft and was the youngest prospect in the ’22 class. A native of Canada, he spent his pre-draft spring at an athletics-focused school in Florida. Early in the spring he was peaking in the upper-90s and sitting more in the 92-95 mph range with varied feel for location. His arm strength trended down throughout the spring, but Zibin’s secondary stuff — a two-planed slider and fading changeup — are both very exciting components, and even the lesser version of Zibin’s fastball, without the downward-trending context, was exciting arm strength for a pitching prospect who wasn’t quite 17 and a half on draft day. He was given a $1.2 million bonus in the 10th round and didn’t pitch at an affiliate after he signed, instead only getting a few innings during instructs. From a frame, delivery, and stuff standpoint, Zibin is a developmental starting pitching prospect with two potential plus secondaries. How his arm strength trends and sustains over an entire pro season will be a key component of his future evaluation. 20. Ethan Hankins, SP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Forsyth Central HS (GA) (CLE) Age 22.7 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/55 50/55 50/50 45/50 30/50 92-95 / 97 Hankins was a fascinating high school draft prospect out of central Georgia. He was dominant at times, pumping 95-97 mph with a plus slider at peak, but his delivery was odd, his frame was maxed out, and his stuff slipped the closer it got to the draft. His stuff and conditioning fluctuated during the early portion of his pro career, too, but then Hankins had a strong showing at the 2020 alternate site from a pitch data and video scouting standpoint, and was nails that fall throughout instructs. He appeared a little more svelte, had both a good curveball and slider, and was also turning over an improved changeup. Still needing to polish his command, Hankins’ arm action was shortened the following spring, comparing closely to the change Lucas Giolito made to tighten his arm circle. The change didn’t have any impact on Hankins’ stuff, and he was sitting about 95 mph and bending in good secondaries during 2021 minor league spring training. Alas, he never threw a pitch at an affiliate. Instead, he was shut down early in the year and underwent Tommy John surgery in May. The timing of his surgery meant he missed basically all of 2022, throwing just one rehab inning on the complex in August before shutting things down again. He was just 90-92 in that lone inning. Cleveland didn’t put him on the 40-man and he went unselected in the Rule 5, which is understandable given that Hankins basically hasn’t pitched in actual games for three years. Now we wait to see how he looks in 2023. Hankins’ peak stuff would belong stacked with Gavin Williams on this list. 21. Davis Sharpe, MIRP Drafted: 13th Round, 2021 from Clemson (CLE) Age 23.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops 45/45 55/60 40/45 50/55 35/60 91-94 / 96 Sharpe, whose attention was divided between hitting and pitching while at Clemson, is another “buy low and develop” Guardians prospect whose repertoire was overhauled very quickly after he turned pro. A high-profile sophomore who struggled and dealt with elbow issues as a junior, Sharpe has had a two-tick velocity bump since signing and pitched very well in a multi-inning relief role throughout his first pro season. A-ball is a bit beneath a pitcher with an ACC pedigree like Sharpe’s, but his level of dominance is still notable: 38 appearances, 71.1 innings, a 2.02 ERA, 87 strikeouts and just 65 baserunners allowed. In addition to the arm strength bump, Sharpe has also developed two different breaking balls. One is his upper-80s cutter, an entirely new pitch that he now throws almost as often as his fastball. The other is a sweeping, two-planed slider in the low 80s that spins around 2,900 rpm and is often plus. Sharpe’s command, especially of his cutter and slider, has also been, uh, sharp since he made these changes and even though it’d be ideal for him to have a secondary pitch with arm-side movement (he appears to have scrapped his college changeup) to truly profile as a starter, he may still have the repertoire depth and command to do so with his current mix. Not counting instructs, Sharpe’s 2022 long relief role still saw him pitch nearly twice as many innings as the season before, and it’s possible a 2023 innings progression will involve a move to the rotation. That early-career Ryan Yarbrough multi-inning role should still be valued in this FV tier, and because that feels like a median outcome for Sharpe, he’s here despite not yet having pitched in the upper minors. 40 FV Prospects 22. Will Brennan, CF Drafted: 9th Round, 2019 from Kansas State (CLE) Age 25.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 55/55 35/35 30/30 55/55 55/55 55 A two-way college player, Brennan hit the ground running as a hitter in pro ball and made it to the big leagues after just two full seasons in the minors. He has never struck out more than 16% at any level and raked at Akron and Columbus in 2022 before getting an 11-game cup of coffee at the very end of the season. He’s a .296/.367/.435 career hitter in the minors, generating doubles power with a compact swing and all-fields approach to contact. He’s especially adept at dropping the bat head to yoink liners into the right field corner, and his barrel stays in the hitting zone long enough to spray some outer edge fastballs to left. Big league pitchers exposed a vulnerability to high-and-away fastballs, and Brennan may have to make an adjustment to keep hitting at the rate he did in the minors. Outside of the doubles, he’s probably not going to hit for significant power, so it’s important that he find a way to make those adjustments to preserve his excellent bat-to-ball production. An instinctive center field defender, Brennan’s capable glove should give him a consistent on-roster role somewhere, though the presence of a similarly-skilled Myles Straw blocks him for now. He’d make for a fine fifth outfielder on a contending club. 23. Xzavion Curry, SP Drafted: 7th Round, 2019 from Georgia Tech (CLE) Age 24.5 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/50 50/55 50/50 30/35 45/50 89-94 / 95 Curry’s secondary pitch command seemed to regress a bit in 2022, and it was merely average after he walked only 16 batters in 19 starts during his debut season in ’21. It’s important to his secondary pitches’ effectiveness that Curry have precise command because none of them is especially nasty. He has feel for locating his terse slider, but his curveball (which pairs nicely with his fastball’s shape and angle) and changeup are much less consistent. He still pounds the zone with his fastball, though, and Curry maintained the modest uptick in velocity that he showed in 2021. He’s dependent on deception and his fastball’s angle and ride, which are created by Curry’s drop-and-drive delivery as well as a short, compact arm path and perfectly vertical arm slot. All of those components together help to create an illusion of rise and a tough-to-square line on his low-90s heater, and the slot helps him create vertical action on his breaking stuff. Barring a feel-for-location bounce back that would enable his stuff to play better than it did in 2022, Curry now looks like a fifth starter. 24. Wuilfredo Antunez, CF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (CLE) Age 20.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/50 45/50 30/50 50/50 30/45 50 A scout favorite from the Guardians’ Complex League group (partially because of his ability, partially because his hair is dyed like a black and white cookie), Antunez hit his way to A-ball in mid-July but only played five games there before injuring his leg during a slide, ending his season. Of a well-composed, medium build, Antunez’s carrying tool is his bat. He is short to the ball with wrists strong enough to do extra-base damage, a well-rounded blend of contact and power that some scouts think gives him a chance to profile in an everyday capacity, especially if he can stay in center field. Because he only played for about a month of 2022 (not counting extended spring training), it was hard for anyone (yours truly, especially) to get a long enough look at Antunez in center field to definitively say whether or not he can play out there, but he is an exciting young hitter despite lacking overt physical projection. 25. Joey Cantillo, SP Drafted: 16th Round, 2017 from Kailua HS (HI) (SDP) Age 23.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/50 30/35 50/55 55/60 40/50 87-90 / 92 Part of the Mike Clevinger trade, Cantillo has missed big chunks of each of the last two seasons with a core muscle injury and shoulder strain. When he was healthy in 2022, Cantillo finally showed an uptick in velocity, and even though he ended the season on the shelf, the Guardians added him to the 40-man after its conclusion. Cantillo has long leaned on his changeup and his fastball’s underlying traits to miss bats in the minors, but his age and frame portended more velocity that took a while to arrive. He sat 87-91 mph throughout his career until 2022, when he averaged 92 mph. It’s enough heat for his fastball to play against big league hitters, but his changeup is still easily Cantillo’s best pitch. Its trapdoor action enables it to slip beneath barrels just as it approaches the plate, and it sometimes has slider-like movement à la many split-finger fastballs, which makes it tough to square up even when hitters find a way to put wood on it. It’s prettier than it is effective, but Cantillo’s mid-70s curveball has huge depth and has become a viable big league offering, while his freshly-minted slider is not especially promising. Assuming he retains the velo coming off the shoulder issue, Cantillo projects as a backend starter. 26. Tim Herrin, SIRP Drafted: 29th Round, 2018 from Indiana (CLE) Age 26.3 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops 60/60 60/60 40/40 94-97 / 99 Herrin enjoyed a three-tick boost to his fastball in 2022 and dominated Double- and Triple-A hitters out of the bullpen, occasionally going for two or three frames at a time and striking out roughly a third of opposing batters while also generating a 50% groundball rate. He was added to the 40-man after the season and is the lone relief-only lefty on the roster aside from Sam Hentges, making him extremely likely to debut at some point in 2023. Herrin’s delivery is noisier than that amateur drummer in your neighborhood and his slider is tighter than their snare drum. His 94-97 mph fastball will bump 99, rushing past hitters at the top of the zone, while the pace and cadence of Herrin’s delivery is very difficult for hitters to time, which is a big part of how he generates such weak contact. He can be very vulnerable to right-handed hitters when mis-locating the slider in the strike zone, but that pitch has pretty absurd length for a mid-80s breaking ball and is comfortably a plus pitch that will be death to left-handed hitters late in games. The shape and length of that pitch varies enough that it’s possible Herrin has both a slider and cutter, but his delivery is wacky enough to assume it’s just natural variation. There’s enough stuff here to project Herrin as an on-roster mainstay rather than the sort of reliever who gets optioned a bunch, and he may usurp Hentges as the primary lefty out of Cleveland’s bullpen as soon as this year. 27. Trenton Denholm, SP Drafted: 14th Round, 2021 from UC Irvine (CLE) Age 23.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops 40/45 50/50 55/60 40/50 35/55 91-94 / 96 Denholm had a breakout sophomore year at Irvine, but his arm strength trended down for the next two seasons; he went unpicked in the 2020 draft and fell to the 14th round as a fourth-year junior in ’21. Only a few months passed between when Denholm signed and when he took the mound for 2021 Instructional League, but he was a totally different pitcher, living in the 92-95 mph range and touching 96. While he wasn’t throwing quite that hard throughout the 2022 season, his 91-94 mph velocity band is still a drastic improvement from his last two years at Irvine. Denholm retained his trademark changeup and command, added a cutter, and his curveball is now 5 mph harder than it was in college. Because the plus velocity component did not sustain itself throughout the year, this is an FV tier below where Denholm was evaluated last list cycle. He’s still a backend rotation prospect with the command and repertoire depth to start. 28. Petey Halpin, CF Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2020 from St. Francis HS (CA) (CLE) Age 20.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/55 35/40 30/40 60/60 40/50 60 Clubs see Halpin as a future fourth outfielder based largely on his contact ability and speed. Even though he has drastically altered his swing since entering pro ball (his stance has really opened up), his offensive profile is very similar to his amateur scouting report, when he was making lots of contact but not slugging. He’s not such a deft hitter that he fits the mold of a traditional leadoff hitter, but Halpin is advanced in most facets of the game and he runs well enough to play center field and is already plus in the corners. Halpin won’t turn 21 until May and it’s plausible that sliding him from the 40+ tier (where he ranked last year) is a bit premature and that he still has time to grow into the power of an everyday player, but the tool profile here reads more like a player who has a 45 ceiling and is still a couple years away. 29. Bryan Lavastida, C Drafted: 15th Round, 2018 from Hillsborough Community College (FL) (CLE) Age 24.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/40 50/50 35/40 40/40 40/45 50 Though he squatted a few times in JUCO play in the month leading up to the 2018 draft, Lavastida only totally moved from shortstop to catcher after he entered pro ball. He’s made sufficient progress in all facets of defense, enough to consider him a major league-ready defender, and there are some scouts who think Lavastida’s glove has more long-term ceiling because of his athleticism and relative newness to the position. After laying above-average statistical track in the lower minors, Lavastida began to scuffle in his first full season at the upper levels. His swing has always been geared for opposite field contact and for a while, that proclivity was mistaken for a special feel to hit at this site. Lavastida doesn’t necessarily cover the plate well, and he’s actually vulnerable to pitches on the outer third of the zone, which he struggles to reach. There’s enough bat here to consider Lavastida a well-rounded backup but not enough to consider him a potential everyday backstop as previously hoped. With the addition of Mike Zunino, Lavastida will likely spend 2023 as the third catcher on the 40-man roster. 30. Yerlin Luis, LF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2023 from Dominican Republic (CLE) Age 17.4 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/60 40/50 20/40 50/50 30/50 45 The diminutive Luis was the 22nd-ranked prospect in the 2023 international class here at FanGraphs and signed for $850,000. He swings harder than you’d expect given his size, and he has precocious feel for the barrel like most Guardians IFA signees do. While he lacks the typical frame-based power projection of a teenage outfield prospect, his hit tool may be good enough for him to outperform his raw power in games. He’s a good long-term developmental prospect with a contact-driven profile. 31. Jose Tena, SS Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (CLE) Age 21.8 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/35 50/55 30/45 45/45 45/50 60 Tena’s ultra-aggressive approach and uphill swing create a low-contact, low-OBP offensive profile that his power and defense are going to have to overcome if he’s going to be an integral big league role-player. He packs quite a punch for a smaller guy, whipping the bat through the zone with surprising ferocity and hitting the ball hard when he does make contact. But the steepness of Tena’s swing and his propensity to chase, especially in concert with one another, will almost surely make him a below-average all-around offensive player. Even though Tena’s swing looks like a lofty, low-ball cut that should enable him to hit the ball in the air, he somehow runs a high groundball rate and all you have to do to limit his damage is stay away from him. Barring a change in this area, it’s tough to envision him getting to enough in-game power to fit as a core utility infielder. He’s a capable defensive shortstop despite inconsistent hands (his exchange is incredible, though) and middling athleticism. Often, though, role-playing infielders with below-average offensive output are better shortstop defenders than Tena is. There are still some interesting components here (chiefly, Tena’s bat speed), but it’s tough to envision a significant on-roster role for him. 32. Milan Tolentino, SS Drafted: 4th Round, 2020 from Santa Margarita Catholic HS (CA) (CLE) Age 21.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 45/50 30/40 55/55 45/60 55 Described by a source as “a line drive machine,” the early stages of Tolentino’s pro career have progressed counter to what was expected when he was a contact and glove-oriented infielder. He still has a swing geared for opposite-field contact, but Tolentino is hitting the ball pretty hard that way and rotating with more effort and force than he was a couple years ago. He isn’t making quite as much contact as anticipated, but this has been balanced by his feel for the strike zone and the quality of the contact he’s making. While there’s disagreement around exactly how good a defender Tolentino is, everyone agrees he’s a capable shortstop, with some considering him a future plus defender there. That would go a long way to making Tolentino an impactful big leaguer even if his offensive game is slightly flawed. The 21-year-old is on pace to reach Double-A in 2023 and projects to be a slick-fielding utilityman with above-average on-base skills and doubles power. 33. Dayan Frias, SS Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Colombia (CLE) Age 20.6 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 40/45 30/45 40/40 40/50 55 After a great 2021 season on the complex, Frias had a bat-to-ball regression in full-season ball, punching out at a 25% clip, 20% more often than the year before. All told he slashed .239/.344/.330 with just 26 extra-base hits in 120 games. He went to Colombia for winter ball again after the season and for the second straight year, his team (which is loaded with prospects) won the league. Recall that Frias was on the Colombian team that won the Caribbean Series for the first time in the country’s history last year. He is a gritty, glove-first infielder who plays with all-out effort, which is part of why his punchless 2022 stateside run was a bit of a surprise, as that extends to his style of swinging. Frias takes a healthy rip from the left side of the plate, especially for a hitter his size. His right-handed swing is more conservative and plain, with an opposite field tendency. The effort in the swing helps explain the ponchados, though. Frias’ effort, actions, arm and athleticism on defense are all fits at shortstop, though he’s a below-average runner and is already pretty stout for a player his age, so keep an eye on his range as he continues to mature into his 20s. The switch-hitting fit and glove give him a Nick Maton-ish skill set and should enable Frias to play a steady big league bench role. 34. Jack Leftwich, SP Drafted: 7th Round, 2021 from Florida (CLE) Age 24.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/45 50/55 40/50 30/50 92-94 / 95 Leftwich was a high-profile high school prospect who never made “The Leap” at Florida, even going undrafted in the shortened 2020 season and falling all the way to the seventh round the following year. He dominated A-ball hitters beneath the SEC competition he faced at school during the first half of 2022 and was still quite good after his mid-year promotion to Lynchburg. He fills the zone with three average pitches and is a very stable backend starter prospect because of his command. 35. Juan Benjamin, 2B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (CLE) Age 19.7 Height 5′ 8″ Weight 150 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/60 30/40 20/35 55/55 40/50 50 Don’t expect wee Juan Benjamin to slug like he did on the complex forever. While he swings with abnormal verve for a player his size, he’s still a compact 5-foot-8 without much long-term physical projection. What he can do is hit, and Benjamin is especially good at recognizing breaking balls and making decisions late during a pitched ball’s flight that enable him to turn on inner-half fastballs and spoil good two-strike pitches. He’s a high-floored utility man whose best defensive fit is probably more 2B/3B than it is shortstop. 36. Will Dion, SP Drafted: 9th Round, 2021 from McNeese State (CLE) Age 22.8 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 35/45 45/50 50/55 45/50 30/50 87-89 / 91 You’ve seen Dion’s delivery before if you’ve ever watched Clayton Kershaw pitch, as Dion’s short-levered overhand stroke is uncannily similar to that of the Hall of Fame lefty’s. It imparts similarly deceptive riding life on Dion’s fastball, which, like Kershaw’s, plays better than its raw velocity, though Dion only sits about 88 mph. He still managed to post an 11.08 K/9 at Low-A in his first full season, mixing in the heater with three evenly deployed secondaries. Dion’s curveball was his money pitch in college, but he’s accelerated his changeup and slider usage so far in pro ball, and all of his secondaries are about average. If he can throw harder over time, then all of them are going to improve to a level that will almost certainly let Dion play some kind of rotation role, augmented by how hard he ends up throwing. For now, he looks like a fifth or sixth starter who is still a couple years away from Cleveland, but if this guy adds velocity, then look out. 37. Hunter Gaddis, MIRP Video Drafted: 5th Round, 2019 from Georgia State (CLE) Age 24.8 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 212 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/45 50/50 40/40 60/60 40/45 90-93 / 96 Even though he made his big league debut as a starter and may be poised to play a spot-start role in the short-term, Gaddis’ cacophonous delivery and inelegant fastball command point to a long-term multi-inning relief role. He certainly has the repertoire depth to start, though. In addition to his running, low-90s fastball, Gaddis has developed a more consistent slider (the pitch he most frequently locates where he wants to) to pair with his screwball-style changeup, which sometimes has upwards of a 15-mph velocity delta from his fastball. He also occasionally lobs in a very slow curveball. Limited fastball utility due to angle and shape force Gaddis to nibble at the very top edge of the strike zone and operate inefficiently to the eye, but he’s kept his walk totals under control throughout his entire career so perhaps this evaluation underrates his chance to start. 38. Jake Miller, SP Drafted: 20th Round, 2021 from San Diego (CLE) Age 22.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 40/45 55/60 30/45 92-95 / 96 Miller looked like he was breaking out early in 2022 when he blew out and needed Tommy John in late July. He sits 93-95 mph with huge extension and creates big arm-side action on a plus mid-80s changeup, which one scout source dropped a 70 on in their look before Miller’s injury. He also has a work-in-progress slider that will have to wait until Miller’s rehab is complete for its tuneup. The violence of his delivery perhaps makes it likely he’s headed for the bullpen, where a velo bump would give him two plus pitches. 39. Joe Lampe, CF Drafted: 3rd Round, 2022 from Arizona State (CLE) Age 22.1 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/50 45/50 30/40 70/70 40/50 45 Lampe entered the 2022 season as a speed-only prospect, but the quality of his contact took a huge leap and he hit four times as many homers as he did during the ’21 college season even though he separated his shoulder in the middle of the year. Lampe expands the zone too often, but he still barely swings and misses. His bat path leaves him vulnerable to back-foot breaking balls, which he tends to swing over top of, and his path also causes him to top and chop lots of balls in play, which his speed helps him turn into hits. His most likely future role is as a part-time outfielder who can play center field, one who is best suited to face pitchers who work toward the top of the strike zone. 35+ FV Prospects 40. Peyton Battenfield, MIRP Drafted: 9th Round, 2019 from Oklahoma State (HOU) Age 25.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 224 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops 40/40 45/50 50/50 45/45 55/55 40/45 90-94 / 95 Battenfield was drafted by Houston, traded to Tampa Bay for Austin Pruitt when Houston badly needed injury relief, and then was dealt to Cleveland in 2021 for Jordan Luplow. The kitchen sink righty can manipulate his breaking ball shape like a con artist manipulates their mark, bending in cutters, sliders, and curveballs across a 15-mph velocity band. He doesn’t have big arm strength, sitting about 92 mph, and Battenfield’s ability to miss bats has dwindled as he’s reached the upper levels of the minors. He K’d just 17% of opposing hitters in 2022, easily a career-low. Still, Battenfield’s sheer unpredictability and repertoire depth give hitters fits. He’s in position to make some spot starts in the near future and projects to move into a lower-leverage long relief role as his option years expire. 41. Isaiah Greene, LF Drafted: 2nd Round, 2020 from Corona HS (CA) (NYM) Age 21.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/45 40/50 30/40 50/50 30/50 45 Greene came over from the Mets in the Francisco Lindor deal and has an interesting blend of soft skills and frame projection. He’s an extremely patient (arguably passive) hitter with below-average bat speed and power right now, but he is super lanky and loose and should grow into more strength and power as he matures. Greene’s feel to hit is not as advanced as his idea of the strike zone, and because he’s so skinny and young, he needs to use his whole body to swing hard and tends to take big rips right through the center of the zone without real feel for the barrel. Scouts don’t think he can play center field, which makes it imperative that he start to get stronger and make more authoritative contact. Because he’s treaded water in these areas for the last year, Greene is more in a late-projection flier category now than he is a high-ceiling, high-variance prospect. Were he a college hitter, he’d be set to go late in Day Two of the draft. 42. Doug Nikhazy, MIRP Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2021 from Ole Miss (CLE) Age 23.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/45 45/55 55/55 30/40 30/40 89-91 / 95 A dominant college starter despite 30-grade velocity and middling control, Nikhazy has really struggled to throw strikes as a pro. He is throwing a little harder than he was at Ole Miss, sitting more 90-92 now, and his heater’s ride and angle make it viable at that velocity. He’s also developed a new, hard slider/cutter in pro ball and his curveball has plus-plus spin, which is a huge spike above his college spin rate. There is raw material here for Cleveland to shape and perhaps these evident changes are part of why Nikhazy struggled to command the baseball so badly in 2022. He’s now forecast for a long relief role, which might help him throw even harder, but there probably has to be significant strike-throwing growth for Nikhazy to become a big leaguer at all. 43. Tanner Burns, SP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Auburn (CLE) Age 24.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/45 50/55 45/45 30/35 40/45 90-94 / 95 Burns had a rough season at Akron as he started to move away from his angle-dependent fastball, which he threw about two-thirds of the time in college and in 2021, and leaned more on his secondary stuff, which aside from his slider, isn’t very good. Whether he can develop a third viable pitch will dictate whether Burns can stick at the back of a rotation or merely act as upper-level depth. 44. Tommy Mace, SP Drafted: 2nd Round, 2021 from Florida (CLE) Age 24.2 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 30/35 55/60 45/45 40/45 35/45 91-95 / 97 Mace was draft-eligible in 2020 but went unselected due to a gap between where the industry had him ranked and where he felt he’d go if he pitched better the following year. He was right, going in the second comp round and signing for just over $1 million in 2021. This is the rare hurler whose arm strength has taken a bit of a dip since he signed with Cleveland. At Florida, Mace was 92-94 mph and up to 97, but he’s been more 91-92 since entering pro ball. He still has fantastic feel for locating his mid-80s slider in enticing locations, but his sinker is getting tagged. The changeup seemed to be a focal point of Mace’s development during his first instructs, and that pitch’s development is probably the lynchpin of his overall profile because he needs to find something to keep hitters off his fastball. He’s in a bounce-back FV tier now and hopefully returns to peak form in 2023. 45. Tyler Thornton, SIRP Drafted: 21th Round, 2021 from Arizona State (CLE) Age 22.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops 50/55 45/55 30/45 93-95 / 96 If low release heights and shallow approach angles are your jam, then Thornton is for you. His drop-and-drive delivery is so extreme that his rear knee threatens to graze the mound on every pitch, and this combined with his low three-quarters arm slot creates a very strange angle on his stuff. It’s not exactly like Adam Cimber’s delivery, but that’s getting close. Thornton has also had a five-tick bump since leaving ASU and now sits 94 mph. He struggles to locate his slider at the moment but certainly looks like a lot of modern low-slot relievers in terms of his frame, athleticism, delivery, and stuff. 46. Nick Mikolajchak, SIRP Drafted: 11th Round, 2019 from Sam Houston State (CLE) Age 25.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops 50/55 55/60 50/50 40/45 40/40 90-93 / 95 Mikolajchak’s stuff didn’t quite bounce back to the level he showed prior to a late 2021 shoulder injury, and he struggled in ’22, regressing from both a stuff and command standpoint. At peak, he was 94-97 mph with a nasty slider, two of a fast-moving four-pitch mix. In 2022, he was sitting 93 and Mikolajchak’s cutter was getting slammed by opposing hitters. At one point, he looked like a high-leverage relief prospect, but now he’s purely a rebound candidate. 47. Andrew Misiaszek, MIRP Drafted: 32th Round, 2019 from Notheastern (CLE) Age 25.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/50 55/60 40/45 40/45 91-94 / 95 Misiaszek struck out more than a batter per inning in 2021 even though his fastball averaged just 89 mph, and his entire repertoire enjoyed a three-tick velocity bump in ’22 as he carved Double-A before running into some control turbulence after he was promoted to Columbus. His heater’s sneaky uphill angle and his slider’s two-plane depth give Misiaszek the look of the second lefty coming out of a typical bullpen. Cleveland didn’t feel compelled to 40-man him despite the improvement to his stuff and nobody popped him in the Rule 5 Draft, and while he’s probably more of a specialist than he is a true 60-inning middle relief option, it’s probable that Misiaszek makes his big league debut in 2023 and has a long career as an up/down lefty. 48. Javier Santos, SP Drafted: 7th Round, 2022 from Georgia Premier Academy (CLE) Age 19.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops 55/60 50/55 20/45 92-96 / 98 Born in the Dominican Republic, Santos was one of the harder-throwing high school pitchers in the 2022 draft, at times bumping 95-97 mph while sitting just below that. He lacks the typical prep player’s physical projection at a muscular 6-feet tall, but his combination of present velocity and breaking ball potential make him a nice pickup for $125,000. His size and delivery create plenty of relief risk, but Santos’ arm strength and ability to spin the baseball make him a notable developmental arm at the bottom of this system. 49. Nate Furman, 2B Drafted: 4th Round, 2022 from UNC Charlotte (CLE) Age 21.5 Height 5′ 8″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Throw 35/70 30/35 20/30 70/70 40 A little second baseman who can really hit, Furman had nearly twice as many walks as strikeouts as a draft-eligible sophomore with Charlotte. He turned 21 just a few days after the 2022 draft, so of course Cleveland was all over him and gave him $300,000 in the fourth round. Furman has very little power. He hit just three collegiate homers and tallied just five extra-base hits in 113 PA with a wood bat on the Cape prior to the draft. He may not have requisite big league physicality, but he definitely has big league twitch and can really run. It’s possible he’ll be given reps in center field in pro ball, as he’s fast enough to play out there and his defensive actions (especially around the bag) are questionable. Furman puts the barrel on the baseball and plays an up-the-middle position, so he’s a sleeper first-year pro to monitor as he makes his pro debut in 2023. His skill set is reminiscent of a lefty-hitting Ernie Clement. 50. Jake Fox, 2B Drafted: 3rd Round, 2021 from Lakeland Christian School (CLE) Age 19.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/60 20/30 20/30 60/60 30/45 40 Fox is a plus runner with a hit tool-oriented skill set. He currently has 20-grade raw power and some of his on-base acumen is due more to passivity than actual ball/strike discernment, and he’ll need to get stronger and become more threatening at the plate in order for the on-paper walk rate to persist at the upper levels. It appears Cleveland has already stopped trying to shoehorn Fox, who lacks arm strength, in at shortstop. Instead, he’s played a bunch of second base and center field, which would make for a pretty neat bench player if he can sustain some measure of offensive performance while climbing through the minors. Other Prospects of Note Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category. Personal Cheeseballs (copyright Baseball America) Micah Pries, 1B Rodney Boone, LHP Jackson Humphries, LHP Kendeglys Virguez, RHP Joe Naranjo, 1B None of this group fits in another Honorable Mention bucket but save for maybe Naranjo, they all nearly made the 35+ tier. Pries has a statuesque baseball frame, plus power and above-average speed, but he only fits at first base and may not have the hit tool to support that profile. Boone sits 86 mph, but his fastball has huge carry and his changeup is the best of his many viable secondaries. Humphries, a high school eighth rounder from 2022, was up to 95 in the fall and his breaking ball flashed plus a few times. Virguez, 18, sat 93-95 in the DSL, Cleveland’s hardest thrower down there (that I know of). Naranjo is in a similar first base-only conundrum as Pries, with plus plate discipline rather than speed. Catching Depth Manuel Mejias, C David Fry, C/1B/3B Robert Lopez, C Jose Cedeno, C Mejias, 18, is a stocky switch-hitter with above-average bat speed and a strong early career bat-to-ball track record. Fry, 27, only catches every once in a while and plays a few other positions, making him an interesting 26th man candidate. Lopez looked good on the backfields in 2021, but he regressed offensively in ’22 and isn’t a lock to catch. He’s still young and has a big-bonus pedigree. Cedeno, who was born in 2005, barely swung and missed at all in the 2022 DSL (93% z-contact, y’all), but that’s about all I have on him right now. The Fall League Arms Mason Hickman, RHP Hunter Stanley, RHP Lenny Torres, RHP Cade Smith, RHP Hickman and Stanley have sneaky low-90s fastballs that play well with their curveballs. Hickman’s only averages 70-72 mph but still garnered a ton of whiffs in 2022. Stanley got hurt in May and didn’t pitch again until the fall, when he was 91-93 with a bevy of 45-grade secondaries. Torres was a high profile amateur prospect whose fastball shape makes it tough for him to survive at 92-94 mph, even if his slider is still quite good. Smith’s low-90s uphill fastball has enabled him to K opposing hitters at a nearly 40% clip, and he also struggles with walks. Outfield Sleepers Connor Kokx, OF Johnathan Rodriguez, OF Jorge Burgos, OF Christopher Espinola, OF Lexer Saduy, OF Kokx, 22, can hit and run but has very little power. He seemed to be swinging harder during the Fall League. Rodriguez has a huge arm and had a power breakout in his sixth pro season, clubbing 26 homers in 2022. His hit tool is still dicey. Burgos, Espinola, and Saduy are all compact, lefty-hitting outfielders in their early 20s who have performed in the lower levels. Fallen Friends Junior Sanquintin, 3B Alexfri Planez, RF Josh Wolf, MIRP Aaron Bracho, 2B This group has had substantial profile at various points in the past. Sanquintin and Bracho were big IFA signees who hit early on as pros but have plateaued or fallen off since. Bracho’s decline was especially stark and seemed to coincide with his injuries. Planez is the closest of this group to the big leagues. He has plus bat speed, but his swing path and control of the zone aren’t great. Wolf was part of the Lindor trade and has become a slider-heavy relief-only prospect with 40-grade velocity. System Overview Cleveland finished the 2022 season as our third-ranked farm system and even though a couple of the end-of-year Top 100 guys fell off, which will cause the org to slide a bit, there’s so much depth here that this system is still probably in the five to seven range across baseball. Pitching development has been key to keeping it deep. It’s not as if Guardians pitching prospects are immune to busts and regression, but they tend to have a couple of players come out of nowhere and become real prospects every season, including lots of physically mature guys who have unexpected spikes in arm strength. They seem to be targeting pitchers from college programs that tend not to max out their players’ stuff, lots of West Coast and Southwest colleges like Fullerton and Arizona State that have been lapped by other schools in the pitching development space. The Guardians also tend to weigh the year prior to a given prospect’s draft year more heavily than other clubs and end up with guys who had good sophomore years but bad junior years, as if they’re taking a buy-low opportunity. This is what netted them Shane Bieber, Davis Sharpe, Trenton Denholm, and probably Chase DeLauter. As I’ve noted ad nauseam over the past couple of years, Cleveland also has clear patterns of talent acquisition in the amateur space related to age, size, and contact proclivity. Many of the team’s international signees are short-levered switch-hitters (I’m 5-foot-11 and towered over their entire instructs group), and their domestic high school draftees are almost always among the youngest players in the class. Again, this doesn’t ensure success (Raynel Delgado, Christian Cairo, Yordys Valdes, etc.), but it is part of what yielded the homegrown core that propelled the Guardians to the 2022 postseason and has them flush with upper-level prospects poised to contribute to the big league cause. Amed Rosario is a free agent after the 2023 season and Cleveland will likely replace him from within, but the team has so many candidates that, especially as their option years and roster flexibility seep away, it makes sense that at least a few of those players will be traded to patch some of the Guardians’ offensive holes. Their lineup was simply not as deep and dangerous as those of other playoff teams in 2022. Other clubs maintain that Cleveland is among the most difficult and stubborn with which to try to strike a deal, so even though there may be opportunities to find roster equilibrium with several trade partners in need of a young infielder, don’t expect the Guardians to make a “fit-based” trade like the Gabriel Moreno/Daulton Varsho swap we saw a few weeks ago.