It wasn’t the biggest blowout for Covering the Corner’s prospect countdown, but it was still impressive as Jhonkensy Noel racked up 47% of the vote, outpacing second-place Joey Cantillo (27%) by 20 percentage points.
Noel had a unique season in 2022. It almost seemed like he was bored at High-A Lake County, where he bashed 19 home runs over 62 games, but did little else, slashing just .219/.286/.509 while striking out at a career-high 31.7%. After all, Noel had made a name for himself a year earlier by striking out just 16.7% while slashing a ridiculous .393/.426/.693 just one level lower at Lynchburg.
Regardless, Noel still was above average at Lake County with a 111 wRC+ and he was named to the Future’s Game for MLB’s top prospects.
Afterward, he was promoted to Double-A, and that’s when his season really got interesting.
Despite facing significantly tougher pitchers in Akron, Noel’s strikeout rate dropped nine percentage points to a much more manageable 22.7% and his walk rate increased to 10.8%. His slash improved to .242/.338/.488 and so did his wRC+ to 123. The only thing that didn’t spike was his power, as he hammered 13 home runs over 67 games, although he was just as productive with 42 RBIs and scored more runs since he was helping the team out by getting on base.
Noel represents that rare right-handed power bat in Cleveland’s system. Still just 21 years old, he stands 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds. He’s always had power. Hell, he blasted 10 home runs as a 16-year-old in the Dominican Summer League in 2018.
The impressive slugger will begin his 2023 campaign at Triple-A Columbus, where he had a four-game cup of coffee to close out his 2022 season. There’s no rush to bring him up this season because of Josh Bell, so he’ll have all season to work on refining his swing and his approach at the plate.
If he pans out, he fills a major void in Cleveland’s lineup for years and years to come.
Juan Brito, 2B (Age 22)
2022 (A): 497 PA, .286/.407/.470, 11 HR, 17 SB, 15.7 BB%, 14.3 K%, 129 wRC+
Acquired from the Rockies in November. Would not be surprised to see the Guardians bump him straight to Double-A to see how he fares with his advanced hitting tool.
Joey Cantillo, LHP (Age 23)
2022 (AA): 60.2 IP, 13 GS, 35.5 K%, 11.4 BB%, 1.93 ERA, 2.51 FIP
Didn’t pitch a full season at Double-A, but looked dominant when he did. When healthy, Cantillo has all the makings of a solid member of a starting rotation.
Justin Campbell, RHP (Age 21)
37th overall pick in 2022 MLB Draft
Two-way player in college who can touch the mid- to upper-90s on the mound.
Jaison Chourio, OF (Age 17)
2022 (DSL): 175 PA, .280/.446/.402, 1 HR, 14 SB, 22.9 BB%, 12.6 K%, 140 wRC+
The younger brother of consensus top 10 prospect in all of MLB Jackson Chourio, Jaison had a solid pro debut in the 2022 Dominican Summer League (higher wRC+ than Jackson in 2021) and the hype is building.
Xzavion Curry, RHP (Age 24)
2022 (AA): 69.0 IP, 11 GS, 28.4 K%, 6.7 BB%, 3.65 ERA, 3.75 FIP
2022 (AAA): 53.0 IP, 10 GS, 23.5 K%, 10.0 BB%, 4.58 ERA, 4.98 FIP
2022 (MLB): 9.1 IP, 2 GS, 6.4 K%, 12.8 BB%, 5.79 ERA, 6.11 FIP
Another Cleveland pitching factory success story. Curry exploded through the system in 2021, then advanced three more levels in 2022 to make two spot starts at the MLB level.
Welbyn Francisca, SS (Age 16)
2023 international free agent signing
One of the most highly regarded hitting prospects in the 2023 IFA class; a twitchy, athletic fielder at shortstop.
Angel Genao, SS (Age 18)
2022 (ACL): 171 PA, .322/.394/.416, 2 HR, 6 SB, 9.4 BB%, 23.4 K%, 127 wRC+
2022 (A): 33 PA, .179/.303/.214, 0 HR, 0 SB, 12.1 BB%, 15.2 K%, 60 wRC+
Another talented, switch-hitting international middle infield prospect, Genao graduated to full-season ball in the latter half of 2022 as an 18-year-old.
Petey Halpin, OF (Age 20)
2022 (A+): 434 PA, .262/.346/.385, 6 HR, 16 SB, 10.4 BB%, 21.2 K%, 107 wRC+
Despite being young for his level, posted his second straight season with an above-average wRC+ in full-season ball.
Parker Messick, LHP (Age 22)
54th overall pick in 2022 MLB Draft
Heavy strike-thrower with the potential for four quality pitches.
Jose Tena, SS (Age 21)
2022 (AA): 550 PA, .264/.299/.411, 13 HR, 8 SB, 4.5 BB%, 25.1 K%, 91 wRC+
2022 (AAA): 23 PA, .368/.478/.632, 1 HR, 0 SB, 17.4 BB%, 17.4 K%, 194 wRC+
An AFL darling who has shown glimpses of greatness in small sample sizes. We’re still waiting to see it over the course of a full season.
Who should be the No. 14 Cleveland Guardians prospect for 2023?
This poll is closed