Acquiring the 2023 Guardians - Lower Minors

Greetings fellow Guardians fans and other lurkers. As the regular season has almost completed, it is time to post the annual "Degrees of Separation" post. This is my personal favorite to track all the transactions over the past year but was initially inspired back in 2008 to see how far back I could link current players on the roster. I was able to locate a transactional chain all the way back to Jerry Dybzinksi in 1977 (which is still in existence!). This covers only transactions from the end of the 2022 season through October 1, 2023.

First up is the Lower Minor Leagues. Then followed by the Upper Minors, and then finally to the MLB roster itself.

Cleveland maintains two Dominican Summer League (DSL) squads, the Red and Blue. Both are located in the North Division. We will start with Red squad first.

The DSL Guardians Red were an average team in the DSL this year. They finished at 25-27, but 16.5 games back of the eventual champion LAD Bautista team. The Red did have the second worst run differential in their division (-56) but did end up tied for third out of 7 teams. As a team they slashed 250/360/356, and the overall OPS of 716 was 22nd of 50 teams. The pitching finished with an ERA of 5.65 which was 41st. Jose Pirela had the best season, leading the team in doubles and homers and a 270/395/480 slash. The top pitches were Jervis Alfaro, Robert Cruz and Julio Zapata.

The DSL Guardians Blue finished just behind the Red at 23-30 (fifth place), but actually had a positive run differential (+10). They hit slightly better overall, 253/378/365 and finished 16th in OPS (743). The pitching was better than the Red (5.17 ERA), which was 34th overall. There were two players with an OPS over 900 and significant playing time: 1B Luis Merejo (321/441/485), SS Welbyn Francisca (316/419/500) The top pitchers were Harrison Ruiz, Felix Polanco and Alezandro Castro.

The Arizona Complex League (ACL) Guardians were a below average team this year. They did finish 3rd in the Central Division but finished 8.5 games back at 22-33 and a run differential of -87. It comes as little surprise they were on of the best teams at stealing (120 in 56 games) but were right in the middle at OPS, finishing 8th (out of 17) at 788 with a slash of 262/378/410. The pitching however was dead last in ERA, a scary 8.11, and dead last in WHIP of 1.97. When you allow two runners an inning, that’s not good. CF Jason Chourio was the star of the team, slashing 349/476/463. LF Esteban Gonzalez led the team with 6 homers (300/410/569) and a quick shout out to first round pick Ralphy Velasquez who slashed 348/393/739 in just 23 AB. A whopping 34 pitchers appeared in this short season league. Of the ones who had 30+ innings, the best of the bunch was probably Steven Perez who had a 3.56 ERA, but on an unsustainable 1.71 WHIP.

As with the other lower level squads, Lynchburg was also a middling team in 2023. Overall they finished 67-64, third in the North division, with a 31-34 record in the first half (3rd) and a 36-30 second half record, only fours games back in 2nd place. They also had a negative run differential of -20 for the season. They had the second lowest home runs, 62 (1 above last place Salem) but led the league in steals with 266. They finished tied for fifth in OPS (out of 12) with a 244/348/350 slash. Incredibly, the team finished as high as it did considering the pitching staff was the second worst overall in league with a 4.56 ERA. SS Jose Devers was the star this season, slashing 252/345/743 with 11 bombs and 66 RBI. Honorable mentions go to 2B Juan Benjamin (708 OPS) and RF Wuilfredo Antunez (774 OPS). There weren’t any standouts on the pitching side from those who got significant innings. Maybe Adam Tulloch was the best with 115 K in 95.2 IP, but he also had a 4.89 ERA.

Notes: I have included compensation draft picks as being more than one degree as Cleveland obtained that pick based on a player they formally held rights to. Also, when I have identified a free agent year, it is the year they signed for (i.e. December 05 would be 2006). Additionally, whenever I could not find confirmation of an amateur free agent signing, the year defaults to their first appearance. [aFA = amateur free agent, mFA = minor league free agent, iFA = international amateur free agent (these usually sign for the highest $$ out of the international bonus pool money]

All data is through the end of the 2023 seasons (Oct 01); any transactions that occur after this season will be captured next year.

Lynchburg Hillcats (A - Low-A East League, North Division)

Players on the roster

One Degree (drafted or signed by Cleveland)

aFA 2018: Samuel Vazquez; Wardquelin Vazquez; Miguel Vinicio;

mFA 2018: Yeury Gervacio (originally aFA by Mets in 2017) [Development List];

Draft 2019: Allan Hernandez (12);

iFA 2019: Adrian Rodriguez**; Juan Benjamin; Maick Collado; Jose Devers; Jose Pastrano [Development List]; Luis Durango;

aFA 2019: Reny Artiles [Development List]; Wuilfredo Antunez;

Draft 2020: Carson Tucker (1)

iFA 2020: Robert Lopez; Manuel Mejias; Angel Genao;

aFA 2020: Abel Brito; Yorman Gomez; Bienvenido Polanco**; Alonzo Richardson; Lexer Saduy [Development List]

Draft 2021: Zach Pettway** (16);

iFA 2021: Jaison Chourio

Draft 2022: Adam Tulloch (15); Zach Jacobs (18); Jackson Humphries (8); Jack Jasiak (12); Austin Peterson (9); Gio Rivera Jr.** (19);

aFA 2022: Marc Filia [Development List];

Draft 2023: Jay Driver (9); Matt Jachec (18); Zane Morehouse (14); Johnny Tincher (11); CJ Kayfus (3); Alex Mooney (7);

** Did not appear in any Hillcats games; injured

Players who have moved on

One Degree (drafted or signed by Cleveland)

iFA 2017: Marlin Made [2023 release - FA]

aFA 2018: Tomas Reyes [2023 release - FA]; Brauny Munoz [2023 release - FA];

Draft 2019: Jordan Brown (6) [2023 release - FA];

aFA 2019: Luis Almonte [2023 release - FA];

ACL Indians (Rookie, Arizona Complex League, Central Division)

Players on the roster

One Degree (drafted or signed by Cleveland)

aFA 2018: Frederic Garcia; Steven Perez; Victor Soteldo

iFA 2019: Esteban Gonzalez

aFA 2019: Albert Breton; Elmson Candelario

iFA 2020: Austin Aldeano; Fran Alduey; Miguel Lopez; Emerson Purroy; Christopher Espinola

aFA 2020: Pedro Almanzar; Jose Contreras; Nelson Aranguren; Wilmer Hernandez; Oscar Cedeno; Kevin Rivas; Samuel Parra

Draft 2021: Tommy Ventimiglia (18)

iFA 2021: Jose Cedeno; Victor Izturis; Alberto Mendez; Jeffrey Mercedes; Rafael Ramirez; Jose Gomez

aFA 2022: Jogly Garcia; Elvelio Hernandez; Kendeglys Virguez

Draft 2022: Justin Campbell** (1-CB); Dylan DeLucia** (6); Javier Santos (7); Logun Clark (16)

Note: actual ACL roster does not have Jacob Zibin (10) on it but MiLB player profile has him as an ACL player; never appeared in a game to date]

Draft 2023: Ralphy Velazquez (1); Tommy Hawke (6); Jonah Advincula (8); Matt Wilkinson (10); Keegan Zinn (12); Jacob Bresnahan (13); Kyle Scott (15); Barret Riebock (17); Josh Harlow (19)

** Did not appear in any ACL games; injured

Players with a mysterious status

iFA 2019: Angel Mendoza (no games since 2022 and was not on current roster; assumption released)

mFA 2022: Edgar Gamargo (originally aFA by Cubs in 2019) [no games in 2023; assumption release in 2023]

Players who have moved on

One Degree (drafted or signed by Cleveland)

aFA 2016: Mike Garcia [2023 release - FA]

iFA 2018: Jose Baez [2023 retired]; Sterling Romero [2023 release - FA]

aFA 2018: Daniel Figueroa; Darlin Noboa [2023 release - FA]

iFA 2019: Angel Contreras [2023 release - FA]

aFA 2019: Felipe Santos [2023 release - FA]

aFA 2020: Erick Caripa [2023 release - FA]; Simon Rodriguez [2023 release - FA]

DSL Indians Blue (Rookie, Dominican Summer League, North Division)

Players on the roster

One Degree (drafted or signed by Cleveland)

aFA 2018: Adauri Vicente

aFA 2019: Miguel Cordones

iFA 2020: David Leon; Reyden Hidalgo; Carlos Gutierrez

iFA 2021: Melkis Hernandez; Pedro Hernandez; Yorfran John

iFA 2022: Santiago Peraza; Joelvis Perez; Eriberto Vasquez; Sebastian Cadiz; Reiner Herrera; Jhorvic Abreus; Yelserth Ayala; Welbyn Francisca; Luis Merejo; Yaikel Mijares; Mason Bolivar; Juan Frances; Yerlin Luis

aFA 2022: Eudry Alcantara; Franklin Bolivar**; Luis Flores; Jose D Ramirez

aFA 2023: Daiher Hernandez; Ezequiel Jimenez; Raudy Rivera; Harrison Ruiz; Carlos Lopez**

** Did not appear in any DSL Blue games; injured

Players with a mysterious status

aFA 2018: Roberto E Hernandez; (no games since 2018; likely released in 2019 played in Cuban Leagues 2019-2022)

Players who have moved on

One Degree (drafted or signed by Cleveland)

aFA 2018: Yonaiker Garcia [2023 release - FA]

aFA 2019: Jose Ruviera [2023 release - FA]; Christain Sosa [2023 release - FA]; Dahan Batista [2023 release - FA]; Felix Polanco [2023 release - FA]

iFA 2019: Danny Medina [2023 release - FA]; Kenny Pinto [2023 retired]; Erickson Sarita [2023 release - FA]

iFA 2020: Jesus Montilla [2023 release - FA]

aFA 2020: Bryant Capellan [2023 release - FA]; Frank Lopez [2023 retired]; Alexandro Castro [2023 release - FA]; Dielmon Urena [2023 release - FA]

DSL Indians Red (Rookie, Dominican Summer League, North Division)

Players on the roster

One Degree (drafted or signed by Cleveland)

iFA 2020: Ronald Pena

aFA 2020: Luis A Garcia; Diego Navarro; Javier Tovar**; Emilio Tavares

iFA 2021: Abrahan Tejada**; Yanki Jean-Baptiste**; Guile Borrome; Brayan Guedez; Nomar Velasquez; Moises Molero

iFA 2022: Javier Abreu; Estarlin Cruz; Manuel Osorio; Erigaldi Perez**; Renil Ramos; Pablo Arosemena; Pedro Dalmargo; Jose Marcano; Jonathan Martinez; Jonathan Taveras; Jose Pirela; Heribert Silva

aFA 2022: Neiver Acosta; Wagner Castillo; Diovel Mariano; Algeni Mejia; Erick Padilla; Rodarni Salvador**; Julio Zapata; Luis Aparicio

aFA 2023: Jervis Alfaro; Joswal Betancourt; Yatner Cristomo

** Did not appear in any DLS Red games; injured

Players with a mysterious status

aFA 2020: Maikol Flores (no games since 2021 and was not on the current DSL rosters; assumption released)

Players who have moved on

One Degree (drafted or signed by Cleveland)

aFA 2018: Logan Franco [2023 release - FA]; Robert Cruz [2023 release - FA]

iFA 2019: Victor Garcia [2023 release - FA]

iFA 2020: Lerwin Andrade [2023 release - FA]; Richard Polanco [2023 release - FA]; Yefri Rivera [2023 release - WAS-DSL]

aFA 2020: Olmandi Diaz [2023 retired]; Elian Quezada [2023 retired]; Alan Romero [2023 release - FA]

aFA 2022: Juan Sosa [2023 release - FA]; Alex Paredes [2023 release - FA]; Alex Paredes [2023 release - FA]

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