Nolan Jones was the No. 1 ranked Covering the Corner prospect in 2020 and 2021, but a slower than expected developmental dropped him to No. 6 in our rankings for 2022.
A second-round draft pick in 2016, Jones has been a staple at the top of Cleveland’s prospect rankings due to his elite ability to draw a walk and his burgeoning power, but he took a step back in 2021.
After showcasing downright elite 20+% walk rates in 2018 and 2019, Jones returned from the pandemic break to post the lowest walk rate of his minor league career at 14.5% in 2021. The number is still significantly above average for most players, but it was low for him.
Jones also saw his strikeout rate spike up to 30%, the highest he’d posted since rookie ball in 2016. Jones slashed .238/.356/.431, which was hurt by a lower than usual (but still not that bad) .327 BABIP.
Power also was down for Jones in 2021, hitting 13 home runs, although he did make hard contact with a career-high 25 doubles. Jones also stole a career-best 10 bases.
While there are legitimate concerns about Jones having a down year, it’s important to remember this was his first taste of Triple-A after having only played Double-A for 49 games in 2019, and he still managed to be above average with a 113 wRC+ for this past season.
Perhaps the biggest issue at the moment is the fact that Jones plays third base, which is where Cleveland already has one of the best players in baseball locked into the lineup every night in José Ramírez. Jones played 65 games at third base in 2021 while trying 25 games at right field and one at first base.
Regardless, 2022 definitely appears to be the year Jones makes his MLB debut. Where he’ll play and when he’ll arrive are questions left to be answered for another day.
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.
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.
Richie Palacios, 2B/OF (Age 24)
2021 (AA): 283 PA, .299/.389/.496, 6 HR, 10 SB, 11.7 BB%, 14.8 K%, 142 wRC+
2021 (AAA): 113 PA, .299/.389/.496, 1 HR, 10 SB, 17.2 BB%, 19.3 K%, 139 wRC+
Returned from over 2.5 years between games and didn’t miss a beat, putting up extraordinary numbers at Double-A and Triple-A while playing four different positions. Added to 40-man roster in November.
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. 7 Guardians prospect for 2022?
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Logan T. Allen