HomeTeamsGuardiansThe Already Impressive Guardians Have More Help On The Way

The Already Impressive Guardians Have More Help On The Way

The Cleveland Guardians lead the AL Central with a brilliant 19-10 record, tied for the best in the American League with the Baltimore Orioles. They have managed to overcome several obstacles in the last few months, from Terry Francona’s retirement – he managed the team since 2013 – last September to Shane Bieber’s season-ending injury in April.

General manager Chris Antonetti didn’t really make many moves in the offseason, instead trusting in his young players and established stars like José Ramírez, Andrés Giménez, Josh Naylor, Steven Kwan, Bieber, and Emmanuel Clase, among others.

Except for the injured Bieber – who was incredible before getting hurt – most of the players of that group have thrilled: as of Wednesday afternoon, Naylor is sporting a .915 OPS with seven home runs and 24 RBI, Giménez has 30 hits and four stolen bases plus amazing defense, J-Ram has driven in 24 runs, Kwan is hitting .350, and Clase is up to 10 saves with a 0.59 ERA.

Additionally, the Guardians have benefited from good performances by young players such as Tanner Bibee, Tim Herrin, Nick Sandlin, Cade Smith, Hunter Gaddis, Estevan Florial, Will Brennan, and Tyler Freeman. The most impressive thing about this organization, however, is that there is much more help on the way.

The Guardians have an impressive collection of talented position players, some of which we will likely see before the end of the year.

The best prospect of the bunch is, without a doubt, Chase DeLauter. He has made a somewhat awkward swing work to perfection, and after a fabulous spring, he was optioned to Double-A where he is getting more reps against top competition. The stats so far aren’t there this year (.591 OPS in 16 games), but the sample is tiny and he proved last season and during his recent spring training run that he can get hot in a hurry. At peak, we could be looking at a .300 average, 30-homer bat possibly as soon as this season.

First baseman Kyle Manzardo, on the other hand, keeps mashing in Triple-A and a promotion feels close. The Guardians might be playing the service time clock game, but the slugger is raking to the tune of a .304/.382/.609 with seven home runs in 25 games. He may force their hand in the upcoming days and could be a middle-of-the-order mainstay.

Back to the outfield, we have Johnathan Rodriguez performing well in Triple-A Columbus, too. As a prospect, he is not as impressive as DeLauter, but is a legitimate future contributor and possibly an everyday talent in MLB. At the moment, he is showing contact, on-base ability and power with his .284/.393/.505 line and five dingers in 26 games as of Wednesday.

Infielder Juan Brito was brilliant in Double-A last year (.817 OPS), and while he has struggled somewhat this season (.629 OPS in 27 games in Triple-A) he is sporting a brilliant 16.2 percent walk rate. The hits should start falling soon, as pitch recognition skills will help him get good counts.

George Valera could develop into a .250 average, 25-30 home run bat as early as this season. He recently overcame an injury and should report to Triple-A soon.

There is a lot of talent in the lower minors, too, such as Jaison Chourio, Angel Genao, Ralphy Velazquez and Welbyn Francisca. Those won’t be in MLB for at least a couple of years, but also represent a big part of the future.

As you can see, the Guardians are in a very good position for the present and the future. The system might be a bit short on pitchers at the higher levels, especially after Daniel Espino’s new injury, but the big league rotation is full of young, quality options who have already graduated: Tanner Bibee, Gavin Williams, Logan Allen, Xzavion Curry, and others.

The Guards’ lineup could receive two or three major boosts later this year when Manzardo and Rodriguez are called up, and if they decide they need DeLauer later in the summer.

The Guardians are here to stay, and they will be a problem for a long time.


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