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Bo Naylor leads six Guardians on latest FanGraphs top prospect list

FanGraphs knows Bo

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Kansas City Royals v Cleveland Guardians Photo by George Kubas/Diamond Images via Getty Images

FanGraphs this morning released their preseason top 100 prospect list for 2023, and like most top prospect lists released so far this year, it features a lot of Guardians.

Six Cleveland prospects made the list in total, headlined by Bo Naylor at No. 45 overall.

  • No. 45: Bo Naylor, C
  • No. 54: Brayan Rocchio, SS
  • No. 57: Logan Allen, SP
  • No. 70: Tanner Bibee, SP
  • No. 81: Gavin Willians, SP
  • No. 93: Daniel Espino, SP

All six Guardians prospects on the list are given a 50 future value (FV), which as you can probably guess, is how FanGraphs estimates the value of that player in ... the future. From FanGraphs’ own FV explainer, a 50 FV equates to roughly an average everyday position player and No. 4 starting pitcher.

One thing to note about the FanGraphs list is that the most important thing is that FV, more than what actual number they rank at. Specific ranks aren’t important outside of the top few prospects on any list, but FanGraphs is one of the few that have a specific way of categorizing them outside of that.

Daniel Espino would have been much higher if this list was released before news of his injured shoulder made the rounds on Monday. FanGraphs ranked him as the No. 1 Guardians prospect in their organizational top list in January, but he’s fallen to their sixth overall, and 93rd in baseball. His scouting report is equal parts exciting and depressing, as he has the physical talents to be a front-end starter, but health continues to hold him back.

I understand why Espino’s ranking has dropped, but I’m still eternally confused why FanGraphs values Logan Allen over Tanner Bibee and Gavin Williams. To reiterate — their exact position doesn’t matter that much, but a gap still exists. The good news is either of us could be wrong and the Guardians still end up with a great pitcher in the end.

FanGraphs estimates that Bo Naylor will have the everyday catching job “within a year or two,” thanks to his 60-grade power potential and impressive bat speed. They call his defense “rough around the edges” in their report, and at some point, the Guardians might just have to be OK with that to get another bat back there — especially if robot umps are on the horizon.

FanGraphs has also joined Keith Law on the Brayan Rocchio hype train, but not to the same extent. Law had him No. 22 overall on his list, but he’s 54 here. Still good enough for the Guardians’ No. 2 prospect. They did, however, note his defensive struggles in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason, citing his range and arm accuracy at short as a concern. Perhaps it was just fatigue after he played a career-high 132 games as a 21-year-old, though. Either way, “The Professor” will have a chance to prove he can still stick at shortstop or second base when he debuts with the Columbus Clippers in a couple of months.

Notably absent from this list is George Valera, who was the No. 3 Guardians prospect in our community rankings. For what it’s worth, I would assume that he did not miss the list by much as he finished No. 7 in their Guardians list with a 45 FV. Based on their scouting report in that list, it seems his contact issues in the minors really scare them off from giving him a higher grade.

As they said at the time:

It is severe enough to slide Valera out of the Top 100 but not enough to expect him to “bust” — he does have plus power and on-base skill, after all. Instead, he projects as the larger half of a corner outfield platoon who also has some match-up limitations against righties with ride/run fastballs.

Valera was No. 27 overall on Keith Law’s list and No. 72 overall on Baseball America’s top 100.