Keith Law has released his midseason top prospects list, and 8.3% of them are in the Guardians system.
Without going too deep into what Law said for the paywalled article at The Athletic (read, subscribe, please don’t sue me, etc.), here are the Guardians he had in his list of the top 60 prospects in baseball:
- 20. George Valera, OF
- 21. Brayan Rocchio, SS
- 24. Daniel Espino, SP
- 37. Gavin Williams, SP
- 48. Tanner Bibee, SP
A couple things stand out here. For one, that’s three in the top-25 of all of baseball. That is incredible. Law had the Guardians system ranked No. 8 prior to the season, and that was when he had only one in the top-25 (Rocchio at 22), and four Guardians prospects total. I have to think it’s a little higher now, especially with Williams and Bibee bursting onto the list with stellar seasons on the mound.
Law notes Williams’ high-90s fastball and the fact of his four pitches, at least one will act as a great secondary pitch. He also calls Valera — who was 29th in his preseason top-100 list — a “middle-of-the-order bat once he finishes filling out”. That shouldn’t come as surprise to anyone who follows the Guardians system closely. Hopefully, Law (who has always valued Valera higher than most) heaping extra praise on the young outfielder will cause others to take note, too.
Bibee made the cut mostly because of the impressive seven-mile-per-hour gain on his fastball he’s made in the last year. In his first professional season, he had a 2.59 ERA in 12 High-A starts and he’s allowed just three earned runs in four starters with the Double-A Akron RubberDucks.
It’s also worth noting that this is only top 60 prospects, not the usual top 100. Jose Tena is the only Guardian who was the preseason top-100 to miss the cut, but he hasn’t exactly made a case to jump up from 68. He’s currently slashing .267/.297/.408 in Double-A. While raw walk rates in the minors don’t tell the whole story, Law said in his preseason list that Tena had a “chance to be a star” with more patience — his walk rate fell from 6.0% in High-A last year to 3.9% this season.
I would be interested to see where Law places someone like Bo Naylor, who drew criticism for an uphill swing that he used in 2021, but has been an absolute phenom in both Double-A and Triple-A this season as a 22-year-old. Would someone like Jhonkensy Noel, Logan T. Allen, or Tyler Freeman also sneak their way onto a full top 100 list?
The point I’m making here is that the Guardians system is very, very good and very. very deep. The question now, given that the trade deadline is barely 24 hours away, is how many of them will be in the organization by tomorrow afternoon.