It’s official — three of the top five players in the Cleveland Guardians minor league system are shortstops.
For a while now, keen eyes in the prospect community have pondered just what Cleveland plans to do when all of its middle infielders start knocking. Decisions now loom. As we are not likely to influence how a certain Gabriel Arias factors into those, we shall instead use this space to celebrate his unique talents.
Space for to be of the using for to Celebration of talents (unique): Gabriel Arias
It is important to recognize that there are two Gabriels Arias in the minor leagues. We’re familiar with this scenario thanks to Logans Allen. However, the other Gabriel Arias plays for Tampa, and so we shall not concern ourselves with him in this space beyond the seemingly infinite wait for the end of this sentence, which, truly, just keeps going on and on for no particular reason at all.
Let us pull up the FanGraphs page for our Gabriel Arias.
Now, I want to highlight something very quiet on his page that should be, by far, the loudest part of his player evaluation.
2019: .302/.339/.470, 120 wRC+, High-A
2021: .284/.348/.454, 115 wRC+, Triple-A
He never played Double-A, you guys. Cleveland saw fit to drop him right into Triple-A, bypassing a level that is critical to the development of young players. There was also a global pandemic going on — you can see where this might be distracting for a young ballplayer as he tries to manage living arrangements, meals, and other slurves.
And the slick-fielding shortstop outproduced the average Triple-A player at the plate by 15%. According to Baseball Prospectus, he was five-and-a-half years younger than the average player, too. Said another way, he was the second-youngest player across all three Triple-A leagues.
There are those who point to his relatively high strikeout totals and wonder if this will hamper his play at the major-league level. I think that you really need to understand the context behind his 22.8 K% in 2021. Here are his strikeout numbers and the associated minor league level from his career, to date.
2017 (R): 30.4%
2017 (A): 25.0 %
2018 (A): 29.6%
2019 (A+): 25%
2021 (AAA): 22.8%
We talk a lot about players needing time to adjust to a new challenge before their numbers stabilize back toward their true talent. In other words, we expect a prospect to struggle a little bit right after their promotion. Then, they get used to the new challenge and perhaps begin to excel once more. It is fairly unusual for a prospect to simply get better at something every time he is challenged.
Also, if he slashes .300/.350/.450, who cares?
Remember — San Diego paid him a $1.9 million signing bonus to come play baseball full time at the age of sixteen. We’re starting to see why.
Logan T. Allen, LHP (Age 23)
2021 (A+): 51.1 IP, 9 GS, 33.5 K%, 6.5 BB%, 1.58 ERA, 2.80 FIP
2021 (AA): 60.0 IP, 10 GS, 32.9 K%, 5.6 BB%, 2.85 ERA, 3.73 FIP
Made an impressive MLB debut after being drafted in the second round of the 2020 draft. Earned a promotion to Double-A after just nine starts, where he continued to show a plus changeup, a mid-90s fastball, and impressive command.
Nolan Jones, 3B/OF (Age 23)
2021 (AAA): 407 PA, .238/.356/.431, 13 HR, 10 SB, 14.5 BB%, 30.0 K%, 113 wRC+
Expected to make his MLB debut in 2021, but a slow start in Triple-A prevented his ascension. One of the best players in baseball occupying his primary position in the majors doesn’t help either, but he could see a shift to the outfield.
Bryan Lavastida, C (Age 23)
2021 (A+): 198 PA, .303/.399/.467, 5 HR, 14 SB, 13.1 BB%, 15.2 K%, 136 wRC+
2021 (AA): 119 PA, .291/.373/.466, 3 HR, 2 SB, 10.1 BB%, 23.5 K%, 130 wRC+
2021 (AAA): 21 PA, .158/.238/.316, 1 HR, 0 SB, 9.5 BB%, 47.6 K%, 47 wRC+
Transitioned from infielder to catcher in college and has continued to blossom at the position ever since. Fifteenth-round selection in the 2018, hit a career-high nine home runs in 2021.
Bo Naylor, C (Age 22)
2021 (AA): 356 PA, .188/.280/.332, 10 HR, 10 SB, 10.4 BB%, 31.5 K%, 69 wRC+
Offense took a step back in 2021, but has earned good marks for his defense and framing behind the plate. One of the youngest players in Double-A last season.
Jhonkensy Noel, 1B/3B (Age 20)
2021 (A): 162 PA, .393/.426/.693, 11 HR, 2 SB, 4.3 BB%, 16.7 K%, 189 wRC+
2021 (A+): 111 PA, .280/.351/.550, 8 HR, 3 SB, 8.1 BB%, 27.9 K%, 135 wRC+
Dominated Single-A as a 20-year-old before getting the bump to High-A and continuing a vendetta against baseballs. Lack of walks could be a concern, but capable of obliterating baseballs.
Jose Tena, SS (Age 20)
2021 (A+): 447 PA, .281/.331/.467, 16 HR, 10 SB, 6.0 BB%, 26.2 K%, 115 wRC+
An under-the-radar middle infield prospect who made his presence widely known when he dominated the 2021 Arizona Fall League despite being one of the youngest players participating.
Gavin Williams, RHP (Age 22)
2021: 1st round pick in MLB Draft
Drafted 23rd overall by Cleveland in the 2021 MLB Draft. Features a high-90s fastball capable of touching triple digits. Led East Carolina to the College World Series.
Who should be the No. 6 Guardians prospect for 2022?
This poll is closed
Logan T. Allen