Bryan Lavastida, our No. 14 prospect for 2022, is a bit of an anomaly in the Guardians organization. Unlike most catchers the Guards have targeted and employed throughout the last several years, Lavastida is a bat-first catcher; a former third baseman and shortstop turned catcher that the team took a flyer on in the 15th round.
Although he hardly played catcher prior to 2018 and he missed a year of development in 2020, here he is, the highest-ranked catching prospect in our voting.
The fact that Lavastida made it out of the missed pandemic season and emerged as one of the org’s best catching prospects in a minor miracle itself. He has needed — and will continue to need — work behind the plate to prove he can carry an above-average bat as a catcher. He as much as anyone could have used more real-game experience two seasons ago, but he proved as a 23-year-old in 2021 that his bat can play.
Boy, can that bat play.
The bulk of Lavastida’s season was split between High-A and Double-A, where he slashed .303/.399/.467 and .291/.373/.466, respectively. He hit a career-high eight home runs between the two levels before earning a brief stint in Triple-A where he struggled over a limited seven-game stretch.
Scouts love his calm yet powerful swing from the right side of the plate. He’s also shown great patience at the plate, with a 13.1% walk rate and 15.2% strikeout rate in his 198 High-A plate appearances last season. FanGraphs called him a “breakout candidate” prior to 2021 due to how quickly he caught on to professional hitting in 2019 despite learning a new position. That proved to be true, and it was enough to earn Lavastida a spot on the 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 Draft that is definitely totally going to happen.
Lavastida and Austin Hedges are the only catchers currently on the Guardians’ 40-man roster. But, given how much work Lavastida still needs behind the plate, I’d expect a signing to occur once that kind of thing is permitted again. In the meantime, our No. 14 prospect will be working away at Triple-A waiting for his shot.
Peyton Battenfield, RHP (Age 24)
2021 (A+): 31.0 IP, 6 GS, 42.2 K%, 4.3 BB%, 1.45 ERA, 1.93 FIP
2021 (AA): 72.0 IP, 13 GS, 29.1 K%, 5.0 BB%, 3.00 ERA, 3.47 FIP
Acquired from Tampa Bay in the Jordan Luplow trade, Battenfield has elite strikeout-to-walk ratios and helped lead Akron to a Double-A championship in 2021
Tanner Burns, RHP (Age 23)
2021 (A+): 75.2 IP, 18 GS, 28.9 K%, 9.2 BB%, 3.57 ERA, 4.35 FIP
A second-round pick in 2019 who put up a rock-solid season at High-A in 2021 with above average strikeout totals and a reasonable walk rate. A workhorse last year.
Xzavion Curry, RHP (Age 23)
2021 (A): 25.1 IP, 5 GS, 40.4 K%, 4.3 BB%, 1.07 ERA, 2.08 FIP
2021 (A+): 67.2 IP, 13 GS, 29.6 K%, 4.4 BB%, 2.66 ERA, 3.99 FIP
2021 (AA): 4.2 IP, 1 GS, 25.0 K%, 0.0 BB%, 3.86 ERA, 6.94 FIP
A 2019 seventh-round pick who made his pro debut in 2021, Curry soared through three levels of Cleveland’s system while posting elite strikeout to walk ratios along the way.
Oscar Gonzalez, OF (Age 24)
2021 (AA): 188 PA, .330/.367/.601, 13 HR, 1 SB, 5.5 BB%, 18.1 K%, 159 wRC+
2021 (AAA): 290 PA, .269/.305/.503, 18 HR, 0 SB, 3.6 BB%, 24.9 K%, 111 wRC+
He doesn’t walk, he strikes out at a decent clip, but he mashes. Led all Cleveland position players in both hits and home runs in 2021.
Petey Halpin, OF (Age 19)
2021 (A): 246 PA, .294/.363/.425, 1 HR, 11 SB, 8.5 BB%, 20.3 K%, 117 wRC+
The 2020 third-round pick made his pro debut in full-season ball in the back half of the 2021 season, where he impressed with a 117 wRC+ despite being one of the youngest players at the level.
Angel Martinez, INF (Age 20)
2021 (A): 424 PA, .241/.319/.382, 7 HR, 13 SB, 10.1 BB%, 20.8 K%, 92 wRC+
An advanced switch-hitting middle infielder who has the potential to be the best of Cleveland’s many advanced switch-hitting middle infielders down the road.
Tobias Myers, RHP (Age 23)
2021 (AA): 59.2 IP, 10 GS, 34.2 K%, 4.2 BB%, 3.32 ERA, 3.08 FIP
2021 (AAA): 58.0 IP, 12 GS, 26.9 K%, 7.4 BB%, 4.50 ERA, 4.57 FIP
Acquired from Tampa Bay as a 40-man roster crunch casualty, Myers already found success at Triple-A at an age where several of Cleveland’s most advanced pitchers were in Single-A.
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.
Doug Nikhazy, LHP (Age 22)
2021: Drafted 58th overall in the 2021 MLB Draft
Lefty with a fastball-curveball-cutter-changeup mix with a higher floor, but perhaps a lower ceiling.
Who should be the No. 15 Guardians prospect for 2022?
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