Arguably one of the best times in the Covering the Corner calendar is finally here — the annual Top Prospect Countdown!
This may also be the best time to follow the prospects of the Cleveland Guardians with their depth and top-end talent. For better or worse, they didn’t part with any of the half-dozen middle infielders they have ready to reach the majors in the coming years, and the end result is a lot of debate for us in early January.
Last season the Guardians saw an explosion of young talent reach the majors and help propel them to the cusp of the ALCS. In total, nine of our top 20 from last year made it to the major-league roster. Steven Kwan, our No. 12 prospect, finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting behind two absolute superstars.
The one anomaly of last year is that there were not any impact starting pitchers to come out of the farm system. Sure, a few debuted — Konnor Pilkington, Cody Morris, Tanner Tully, and Xzavion Curry all made appearances — but no one cemented themselves in the rotation or even the bullpen. I have a feeling that is going to change soon, if not this year then next. Daniel Espino, Gavin Williams, Logan T. Allen, and Tanner Bibee are all creeping up the minors, showing the telltale signs of the next Cleveland Pitching Factory product. For years the talk of the Guardians farm system has shifted away from pitching onto the middle infield, but a shift back may be coming.
For the newcomers to voting, here’s how this works: Every Monday through Saturday, from now until we reach 20 prospects, you’ll have an opportunity to vote on which prospect should be in that day’s spot. Voting will take place between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. and the winner will be announced and discussed in the next day’s post. The choices are curated by Covering the Corner staff, but the final vote is entirely up to who the community chooses. Vote in the poll below, and drop your feelings on the current rankings, as well as who you feel should be included in the next poll, in the comments.
Passion about prospects and their respective positions in the list is what makes this series so much fun, but remember to keep it civil. Debate other people’s opinions; do not resort to personal attacks.
Tanner Bibee, RHP (Age 23)
2022 (A+): 59.0 IP, 12 GS, 37.2 K%, 5.6 BB%, 2.59 ERA, 3.04 FIP
2022 (AA): 73.2 IP, 13 GS, 28.4 K%, 4.9 BB%, 1.83 ERA, 2.61 FIP
Fifth-round pick in 2021 who quickly established himself in High-A and added velocity throughout the season.
Daniel Espino, RHP (Age 22)
2022 (AA): 18.1 IP, 4 GS, 51.5 K%, 5.9 BB%, 2.45 ERA, 3.09 FIP
Missed most of 2022 season due to knee and shoulder, but looked dominant in his limited time on the mound. Expected to be ready for spring training.
Brayan Rocchio, SS (Age 22)
2022 (AA): 432 PA, .265/.349/.432, 13 HR, 12 SB, 9.7 BB%, 18.8 K%, 114 wRC+
2022 (AAA): 152 PA, .234/.298/.387, 5 HR, 2 SB, 7.9 BB%, 13.8 K%, 81 wRC+
Has the contact, speed, and defense the Guardians love, along with an 80-grade nickname of “The Professor”.
George Valera, OF (Age 22)
2022 (AA): 387 PA, .264/.367/.470, 15 HR, 2 SB, 13.4 BB%, 25.8 K%, 129 wRC+
2022 (AAA): 179 PA, .221/.324/.448, 9 HR, 0 SB, 12.3 BB%, 25.1 K%, 103 wRC+
A sky-high ceiling only limited by his strikeout potential. Average at Triple-A last season, but has historically adjusted quickly after reaching a new level in the minors.
Gavin Williams, RHP (Age 23)
2022 (A+): 45.0 IP, 9 GS, 39.9 K%, 8.3 BB%, 1.40 ERA, 1.64 FIP
2022 (AA): 70.0 IP, 16 GS, 29.1 K%, 9.2 BB%, 2.31 ERA, 4.03 FIP
A polished arm straight out of college; quickly pitched his way out of High-A with a 39.9% strikeout rate and continued to dominate in Double-A.
Who should be the No. 1 Cleveland Guardians prospect for 2023?
This poll is closed