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2022 Organization Report: Cleveland Guardians

by Chris Blessing

Organization Grades

Hitting: B ... Pitching: B ... Top-end Talent: B ... Depth: A ... Overall: B



Minor League Affiliates

Triple-A: Columbus (AAA East)
Double-A: Akron (AA Northeast)
High-A: Lake County (A+ Central)
Low-A: Lynchburg (A East)
Rookie: ACL Guardians (Arizona Complex League)
Rookie: DSL Guardians (Dominican Summer League)



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1. Brayan Rocchio (SS) ... 5-10, 150 ... B/R ... 21 ... 2017 FA (VZ)
YearTeam (LG)ABBA/OBP/Slgbb%ct% EyeHR/SB
2019Mahoning Valley (NYPL)268.250/.310/.3737850.505/14
2021Lake County (A1_Cent)257.265/.337/.4287750.319/14
2021Akron (AA_NE)184.293/.360/.5057780.326/7
2022Akron RubberDucks (East2)373.265/.349/.43210780.5213/12
2022Columbus Clippers (IL2)137.234/.298/.3878850.575/2
Comments: Small-statured SS with plus hit tool tapped into power for first time in career. Has tremendous bat control, works gaps and can adjust swing path to get to the most optimal contact. Below-average raw power plays up to average due to barrel control and ability to explode bat head with added launch angle to get to pull power. Has double digit SB pote

Development Path: Rocchio had a phenomenal season, ending the season as one of the best hitters in Double-A. Given the log jam of MIF, he could return to Double-A or progress to Triple-A to start 2022.

Fantasy Impact: Rocchio's hit tool and baserunning skills has driven the fantasy profile. While his speed has backed up, the power has come on, giving him a chance to contribute in several categories, which could make him a top 5-10 fantasy SS at projection.

Upside Grade: 9D


2. George Valera (OF) ... 5-10, 160 ... L/L ... 21 ... 2017 FA (NY)
YearTeam (LG)ABBA/OBP/Slgbb%ct% EyeHR/SB
2019Mahoning Valley (NYPL)157.236/.356/.44616670.568/6
2021Lake County (A1_Cent)199.256/.430/.54822710.9516/10
2021Akron (AA_NE)86.267/.340/.40711650.373/1
2022Akron RubberDucks (East2)330.264/.367/.47014700.5215/2
2022Columbus Clippers (IL2)154.221/.324/.44813710.499/0
Comments: Power-hitting OF took steps forward with approach and patience in superb '21 campaign. Pretty LH swing has solid lift and above-average bat speed. Uses leverage and size to generate plus power in games. Could get to plus-plus power with greater barrel consistency. Average runner with questionable route running skills in OF.

Development Path: Valera hit a slight hiccup jumping up to Double-A at the end of the season. He'll likely start the season in Double-A with a good chance sticking there for most, if not all, of the season.

Fantasy Impact: Valera's hit tool gains have improved the overall fantasy profile. If he can keep his BA over .250, we're looking at a 35-40 HR bat. With continued patience, this could also be a solid profile for OBP formats too.

Upside Grade: 9D


3. Daniel Espino (RHP) ... 6-2, 205 ... 21 ... 2019 (1) HS (PN)
YearTeam (LG)IPERAWHIPCtlDomCmdOppBA
2019AZL Indians (Ariz)13.21.980.8803.310.53.2.146
2019Mahoning Valley (NYPL)10.06.301.4004.516.23.6.231
2021Lynchburg (A2_East)42.23.371.3364.913.52.8.210
2021Lake County (A1_Cent)49.04.040.9392.916.25.6.169
2022Akron RubberDucks (East2)18.12.450.7092.017.28.6.141
Comments: Hard-throwing, high 3/4s RHP rounded into form with 1st taste of full-season ball. Overhauled delivery allowed for improved command. Four seamer touches 101 with solid ride & tailing action. SL is best secondary offering with sharp, vertical downward break. Plays up to plus at higher velo band. Late-fading CU has made strides. CB lags behind.

Development Path: Espino struggled out of the gate in Low-A. However, he really hit a stride in High-A, where his overall assortment of pitches were dominated most times out. An aggressive assignment to Double-A is next for the 21-year-old.

Fantasy Impact: Coming out of HS, Espino was a lively arm with advanced control in need of mechanical restructuring. A shorter arm circle and more direct arm path has increased his ability to command his FB and SL, allowing for his overall stuff to play up.

Upside Grade: 9C



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4. Tyler Freeman (2B,SS) ... 6-0, 165 ... R/R ... 22 ... 2017 (2) HS (CA)
YearTeam (LG)ABBA/OBP/Slgbb%ct% EyeHR/SB
2019Lake County (Midw)236.292/.382/.4247880.643/11
2019Lynchburg (Caro)257.319/.354/.3973900.320/8
2021Akron (AA_NE)164.323/.372/.4705870.382/4
2022Columbus Clippers (IL2)297.279/.371/.3648890.786/6
2022Cleveland Guardians (AL)77.247/.314/.2865860.360/1
Comments: Natural hitting MIF had banner first two months of season, before left shoulder surgery shut him down for the season. Hit tool carries profile; has a knack and ability to get to loud contact, though most of it is of the line drive variety. Think 10-15 HR max. Has quieted some concerns over aggressiveness. Fits at 2B.

Development Path: Freeman's bat is near ready and would have likely earned a promotion to Triple-A if not for the injury. Expect him to start off in Triple-A prior to a mid-2022 MLB debut.

Fantasy Impact: Freeman has one carrying tool in fantasy, his ability to hit for a high BA. He isn't going to hit for many HR and won't steal many bases. But he'll be on-base at a high clip, mostly BA driven, and probably score lots of runs as a prototypical #2 hitter.

Upside Grade: 8B


5. Gavin Williams (RHP) ... 6-6, 238 ... 22 ... 2021 (1) East Carolina
YearTeam (LG)IPERAWHIPCtlDomCmdOppBA
2022Lake County Captains (Midw2)45.01.400.8672.813.44.8.156
2022Akron RubberDucks (East2)70.02.311.0003.310.53.2.173
Comments: Put himself on map with exceptional spring. Has four pitches; four-seamer is nasty with solid spin profile and extra giddy-up. Can get to 100 MPH with ease. CB has 12-6 shape with devastating downward break. Tightened up SL, now an average offering. Needs more consistency with command and CU to get to ceiling.

Development Path: Williams made is organizational debut in fall instructional league and likely begins his pro career with an assignment to High-A.

Fantasy Impact: Outside of Rangers prospect Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker, Williams presented with the best chance at a SP1/SP2 upside amongst college SPs in last year's draft. There's big strikeout potential if hid stuff refines.

Upside Grade: 9D


6. Logan T Allen (LHP) ... 6-0, 190 ... 23 ... 2020 (2) Florida Intl
YearTeam (LG)IPERAWHIPCtlDomCmdOppBA
2020Florida Intl (ConfUSA)25.22.450.8962.114.46.9.181
2021Lake County (A1_Cent)51.11.580.9742.311.85.1.194
2021Akron (AA_NE)60.02.850.8832.011.45.7.182
2022Akron RubberDucks (East2)73.03.331.0962.712.84.7.209
2022Columbus Clippers (IL2)59.26.491.5594.411.02.5.263
Comments: Small-statured, Low 3/4s LHP profiles with unique riding action. FB is below-average velo but messes with timing of hitter due to deception of arm slot and ability to tunnel two above-average secondaries off FB. SL is a tight, 2-plane but mostly vertical mover. CU features solid deception and fading action compared to FB. SP3 upside.

Development Path: (Note there are two LHP with the same name in the CLE system. This one has no prior MLB experience.) The team was aggressive with Allen's assignments in 2021 and it paid off. Next up is Triple-A with a chance at the big league club by mid-season.

Fantasy Impact: Allen is a unique scout from a team that values analytics, riding FB and secondary command. Allen has advanced pitchability, a unique profile and plenty of whiffs in a near-ready SP package.

Upside Grade: 8B


7. Gabriel Arias (2B,3B,SS) ... 6-1, 185 ... R/R ... 22 ... 2016 FA (VZ)
YearTeam (LG)ABBA/OBP/Slgbb%ct% EyeHR/SB
2019Lake Elsinore (Calif)477.302/.339/.4705730.2017/8
2021Columbus (AAA_East)436.284/.348/.4548750.3513/5
2022ACL Indians (ACL)13.231/.412/.30819460.430/1
2022Columbus Clippers (IL2)288.240/.310/.4068730.3213/5
2022Cleveland Guardians (AL)47.191/.321/.31915660.501/1
Comments: Maturing SS continued to improve with the bat, on verge of MLB debut. Quick bat with solid contact skills. Improved discipline increased BB rate and decreased K rate. Spray approach with natural power to RCF. Still working to get to pull-side power, which could unlock above-average power potential in game. Defensively skilled at SS.

Development Path: Arias has little to prove in Triple-A. Assuming the Guardians view him as a better defensive player than Andres Gimenez, he is likely the starting SS at some point during the season.

Fantasy Impact: Playing time shouldn't be an issue, even if the bat struggles, given Arias' ability to play SS. Power should develop and it could be a borderline Top 10 SS bat if everything comes together.

Upside Grade: 8C


8. Angel Martinez (SS) ... 6-0, 165 ... B/R ... 20 ... 2018 FA (DR)
YearTeam (LG)ABBA/OBP/Slgbb%ct% EyeHR/SB
2021Lynchburg (A2_East)377.241/.319/.38210770.497/13
2022Lake County Captains (Midw2)281.288/.384/.47712790.6910/10
2022Akron RubberDucks (East2)82.244/.356/.45113780.673/2
Comments: Switch-hitting SS started '21 season on a hot streak but ended up cratering in the 2nd half. Short, compact swing path. It's a pretty swing from LH side but struggles with crudeness from the RH side. There's average power in swing and frame, which played early. Will stick at SS, as a plus runner who can steal double-digit SB. Dad Sandy was MLB catc

Development Path: Martinez had an interesting season. Some assume an injury may have led to his second half struggles. He'll likely head out to High-A to start 2022.

Fantasy Impact: Martinez has a solid, all-around tool set, which is coveted in fantasy. Sure, nothing really carries the profile. However, the sum of all parts will help fill several categories.

Upside Grade: 8D


9. Ethan Hankins (RHP) ... 6-6, 200 ... 21 ... 2018 (1) HS (CA)
YearTeam (LG)IPERAWHIPCtlDomCmdOppBA
2018Did not play (--)0.00.000.0000.00.00
2019Mahoning Valley (NYPL)38.21.401.0604.210.02.4.165
2019Lake County (Midw)21.14.641.5005.111.82.3.238
2022ACL Indians (ACL)1.00.000.0000.09.00.000
Comments: Hard-throwing former 1st round pick fell victim to TJS surgery in the spring. Disappointing since it looked like his maturation had turned a corner. Whiff inducing plus-FB touches 98, goes along with 3 solid secondaries. Tight SL is the most refined of those pitches. CU could eventually get to plus with added tumble. CB is a 12-6 breaker.

Development Path: Hankins isn't likely to be ready until June or July to manage a rehab assignment. Prior to the TJS setback, the Guardians were sending him to Double-A, where he'll start at once rehab is completed.

Fantasy Impact: The Guardians bet on Hankins raw stuff to eventually mold into a front-line SP. The glimpses seen during ST and at Instructs in 2020 looked he was on his way to a #2 SP outcome. Missing development time further limits overall upside.

Upside Grade: 8D


10. Cody Morris (RHP) ... 6-5, 222 ... 25 ... 2018 (7) University of South Carolina
YearTeam (LG)IPERAWHIPCtlDomCmdOppBA
2021ACL Indians (Rk_ACL)4.12.080.6922.124.911.9.133
2021Akron (AA_NE)20.01.351.0503.213.14.1.189
2022ACL Indians (ACL)6.00.000.6670.013.50.182
2022Columbus Clippers (IL2)15.12.350.7173.517.65.0.098
2022Cleveland Guardians (AL)23.22.281.3944.68.81.9.228
Comments: Dominant showing across 3 leagues for hard-throwing RHP, including 20%+ swinging-strike rate. 4-pitch pitcher. Features mid-to-high 90s four seamer, which explodes up in zone. 12-6 CB with solid depth and late drop is paired perfectly with FB; a plus pitch. The CU also keeps LHH off balance with separation & late fade. CT is effective 4th pitch.

Development Path: Morris started the season on the injured list. Once he was in the upper minors, he dominated and was added to the 40-man this off-season. Look for a 2022 debut after additional maturation in Triple-A.

Fantasy Impact: Morris forced his way onto the Guardians top 15 with a dominating performance. The swinging strike rate should translate. While others on the doorstep of the majors have better command than Morris, his stuff is prime for its debut with a chance to give managers strikeout help.

Upside Grade: 8C


11. Bryan Lavastida (C) ... 6-0, 200 ... R/R ... 23 ... 2018 (15) Hillsborough CC
YearTeam (LG)ABBA/OBP/Slgbb%ct% EyeHR/SB
2021Lake County (A1_Cent)165.303/.399/.46714820.875/14
2021Akron (AA_NE)103.291/.373/.46610730.433/2
2022Akron RubberDucks (East2)174.195/.257/.3286740.275/5
2022Columbus Clippers (IL2)147.224/.315/.37410760.464/2
2022Cleveland Guardians (AL)12.083/.267/.08320670.750/0
Comments: Offensive-minded backstop improved overall profile by gaining power & better mechanics defensively. Above-average raw power profile has always been present. Adjusted setup, allowing for his legs to create better leverage in swing without compromising spray approach and plate coverage. It led to over-the-fence power.

Development Path: LaVastida had a great season overall, split between 3 levels. However, struggled in small Triple-A sample. He will return there to start 2022, with chance at big league club when injuries arise in the big leagues.

Fantasy Impact: LaVastida improved his fantasy profile immensely, beginning to get to power without compromising hit tool. Also, proving he may stick behind the dish gives LaVastida a shot at a regular outcome fueled by high BA & OBP skill and emerging power.

Upside Grade: 8D


12. Nolan Jones (1B,3B,OF) ... 6-3, 195 ... L/R ... 23 ... 2016 (2) HS (PA)
YearTeam (LG)ABBA/OBP/Slgbb%ct% EyeHR/SB
2019Lynchburg (Caro)252.286/.435/.42521660.767/5
2019Akron (East)178.253/.370/.46615650.498/2
2021Columbus (AAA_East)341.238/.356/.43115640.4813/10
2022Columbus Clippers (IL2)214.276/.368/.46313700.489/4
2022Cleveland Guardians (AL)86.244/.309/.3729640.262/0
Comments: Former HQ100 prospect, struggled mightily in '21. Pitchers feasted on a hitch in his load, busting him in with FB. As mechanics improved, timing did not until late; did post a .280/.382/.452 slash in August. May never be a high BA guy. OBP and power should lend self to regular role in a corner, but has versatility. Can play 1B, 3B & RF.

Development Path: It was a rough season for Jones. He will need to prove the last month of his season wasn't a mirage and continue to get to power in his swing. He likely starts the year in Triple-A with a call up to the big leagues likely.

Fantasy Impact: While the power potential carries the profile, the combination of OBP and power makes Jones a particular nice play in OBP formats. There is tweener risk here if the hit doesn't recover enough to get to more barreled contact.

Upside Grade: 8D


13. Peyton Battenfield (RHP) ... 6-4, 214 ... 24 ... 2019 (9) Oklahoma State University
YearTeam (LG)IPERAWHIPCtlDomCmdOppBA
2019Oklahoma State (NCAA)60.13.281.0803.111.03.5.196
2021Bowling Green (A1_East)31.01.450.7421.514.29.5.162
2021Akron (AA_NE)35.23.280.8691.89.15.1.183
2021Montgomery (AA_Sou)36.12.720.8531.711.46.7.180
2022Columbus Clippers (IL2)153.23.631.2693.36.41.9.230
Comments: Over-the-top RHP with some of the minors' best analytics. Throws low-90s high-riding 4S FB, complementing nicely with a terrific plus CT/SL hybrid near the same velocity band. Best off-speed pitch is 12-6 CB with deep vertical break. Has feel for average, fading CU. Command of four offerings ties SP package in a giant bow.

Development Path: Battenfield proved to be mostly advanced for High-A & Double-A, across two organizations. He's close to contributing after some additional time at Triple-A.

Fantasy Impact: Battenfield has excelled living above the swing plane with his FB and commanding all of his secondary offerings. This is a near ready contributor and likely source of strikeouts out of a backend SP profile.

Upside Grade: 8D


14. Tanner Burns (RHP) ... 6-0, 180 ... 23 ... 2020 (1) Auburn
YearTeam (LG)IPERAWHIPCtlDomCmdOppBA
2020Auburn (SEC)22.12.420.9852.812.94.6.183
2021Lake County (A1_Cent)75.23.571.2293.510.83.1.220
2022Akron RubberDucks (East2)88.23.551.3534.69.32.0.220
Comments: Crafty, pitchability RHP who relies on some of all parts, pacing, sequencing & tunneling to play up average-to-above-average stuff. FB sits low-90s with arm side run, commanded to the corners well. Best pitch is above-average CB with solid vertical drop, commands it in and out of zone. SL is a harder slurve and CU has a solid fade to it.

Development Path: Burns threw 75.2 innings at High-A with solid but unspectacular results. He's ready for a next level, Double-A, where he should stay the entire season.

Fantasy Impact: Burns is a lot like other Guardians pitching prospects, minus the overwhelming whiff pitch to carry the strikeouts. Profile feels like a few more MPH is needed to get to SP3/SP4 profile.

Upside Grade: 7B


15. Richard Palacios (2B,OF) ... 5-10, 160 ... L/R ... 24 ... 2018 (3) Towson
YearTeam (LG)ABBA/OBP/Slgbb%ct% EyeHR/SB
2018Towson (CAA)196.301/.457/.51521923.258/25
2021Akron (AA_NE)244.299/.389/.49612830.796/10
2021Columbus (AAA_East)113.292/.434/.41618750.891/10
2022Columbus Clippers (IL2)179.279/.371/.45812760.564/12
2022Cleveland Guardians (AL)112.232/.293/.2867820.450/2
Comments: Professional hitter, returned from labrum injury and pandemic without missing a beat. Has always presented with both BA & OBP skill with solid contact rates. Spray hitter who uses legs well; piled up XBH. However, HR power is limited to 10-15 range. Plus runner stole 20 bases in 23 attempts. Poor defender at multiple positions. Bat carries profile.

Development Path: Palacios dominated the two upper levels of Guardians farm system in 2021 with a .874 OPS. He'll likely returns to Triple-A where the Guardians hope he can find a defensive home.

Fantasy Impact: The bat is not the question; he can hit. However, the profile really only works up-the-middle or in a UT role. Maybe that's where he's at, which makes the BA, OBP & SB very valuable in most formats.

Upside Grade: 8D


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