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Cleveland Guardians top prospects 11-15

Ranking my top 10 Cleveland Guardians prospects and hearing all your feedback was incredibly fun for me. As I mentioned in the previous article, I think I am going to have more and more fun the further down the list we go. Here is how I view prospects 11-15 in the Guardians system.

11. SS/2B Angel Martinez:

Signed by the Guardians in their 2018 international class, Angel Martinez looked like he had a chance to be the future SS/2B of the Guardians after he slashed .288/.384/.477 in 331 plate appearances in High-A Lake County before then slashing .244/.356/.451 in 103 plate appearances at AA Akron. This prompted the Guardians to add Martinez to the 40 man roster with a huge arrow pointing up.

Then, 2023 happened. He got off to a brutal start, hitting just .182/.281/.325 with a 69 WRC+ in the month of April. He got better as the season went on but he never quite rebounded and ended the season slashing just .251/.321/.394.

What was his main issue? Well the strikeouts went up and the walks went down, that’s never good. The power also seemed to disappear a bit, in 2022, he had a .189 isolated power number(Slugging% - Batting average) at High-A and then a .207 ISO in AA. In 2023, Martinez had a .146 ISO in AA and a .134 ISO in AAA Columbus. His advanced data also was not good in his short stint in AAA Columbus. I’m hoping for a rebound season from Angel Martinez, he is still a really good prospect, but without any elite tools or skills, it’s tough to see him beating out any of Arias, Rocchio, Tena, or Brito.

12. SS Welbyn Francisca:

Welbyn stormed onto Guardians fans’ radar when he went 5-7 with a HR and a triple in his first career game in the Dominican Summer League after being the prize of the 2022 international class. Given a 70 grade hit tool by FanGraphs, Welbyn had that on full display in his debut season. He slashed .316/.419/.500 with a 144 WRC+. What impressed me the most was the power he showed. Putting up a .184 isolated power and hitting 3 HRs, 6 triples, and 7 doubles in only 179 plate appearances is not something I expected from him in his first season at 17 years old.

Welbyn has a chance to be the biggest riser in the Guardians system next year if he continues to produce like he did this season. He is one of my favorite prospects and I really hope the Guardians decide to be aggressive with him.

13. LHP Alex Clemmey:

The Guardians drafted Alex Clemmey 58th overall in the 2023 MLB draft. Clemmey won the Rhode Island Gatorade Player of the Year in his senior year of high school, after pitching to a 0.59 ERA. Some of you will likely be a lot higher on Clemmey, and some of you may be a lot lower on him. It really comes down to how you value ceiling vs. floor. He arguably has one of the highest ceilings of any prospect in the Guardians system. He also could come out next season and walk 6 batters per 9 innings and it wouldn’t surprise me. High school pitchers are already extremely risky picks, especially ones that have major control issues, and Clemmey does. The good news is that the Guardians are the Guardians, one of if not the best organizations at developing pitching. To learn more about Clemmey, you can read this fantastic article from Matt Dallas.

14. SS/2B Kahlil Watson:

The Guardians acquired Kahlil Watson for Josh Bell at the 2023 trade deadline in a shocking move. A lot of fans were not happy about this move, as it signaled the Guardians were turning their attention toward 2024 and beyond, rather than 2023. I was not one of those fans, I loved this move then and I still love it. A lot of scouts and talent evaluators thought Kahlil Watson was the most talented player in the 2021 class, when he was selected 16th overall by the Miami Marlins.

In 2021 after he was drafted, Watson hit .394/.524/.606 in 42 plate appearances in the Florida Complex League. He looked like the star that everyone thought he would be. Then 2022 came, he slashed just .231/.296/.395 with a disastrous 35.5% strikeout rate in 358 plate appearances in Low-A Jupiter.

In 2023, he was still striking out too much at 28% but improved his walk rate from 7.5% to 14.4%. After being traded to the Guardians, he showed signs of reigning in that strikeout rate(24.5%)while still hitting for power(.442 slugging%, .209 ISO)

Similarly to Alex Clemmey, ranking Watson really depends on how you view ceiling vs. floor. Kahlil Watson’s combination of athleticism and raw power is truly rare and exciting. The Guardians don’t have anybody like him in their system. Can he play CF? That’s the question that determines if he has a real future on this team in my opinion. He certainly has the athleticism to do it, and if he can, along with continuing to improve at the plate, he has a real chance to be part of the Guardians’ future plans.

15. OF/2B Jake Fox:

The Guardians drafted Jake Fox as a SS in the 3rd round of the 2021 draft. He has started just 9 games at SS since then, they have basically turned him into a super utility player that can play anywhere on the infield and outfield. Outside of one start at 2B, he played exclusively in the OF this season, and he played it pretty well. He may never be an elite defensive CF, but he can definitely be above average there.

Fox slashed .247/.381/.374 with a 118 WRC+ in his debut season at Low-A Lynchburg in 2022, showing off his plate discipline with a 15.7% BB rate. His 2023 slash line may look pedestrian, but it was truly a tale of two seasons. In 188 plate appearances from 4/6/23-6/21/23, Fox slashed .191/.282/.284 with a 63 WRC+. It was a brutal start. But in 265 plate appearances from 6/22 on, he hit .300/.364/.475 with a 135 WRC+ and a 20% K rate to a 9.1% BB rate. His .175 isolated power in that time frame is very impressive for a prospect who is supposed to be contact and plate discipline oriented. If Fox continues to improve in CF and at the plate, he could be in the mix for the CF of the future over the next couple years.