Building the AL Central Champion Cleveland Guardians: A Preview of 2023’s Top 100 Prospects

Building the AL Central Champion Cleveland Guardians: A Preview of 2023's Top 100 Prospects
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

GOODYEAR, AZ. — While covering spring training activity for the next month, SportRelay.com will also preview our list of the top 100 prospects in the Cleveland Guardians‘ organization.

The news Tuesday was not good for Guardians fans. Cleveland lost a split-squad game at home to the Kansas City Royals, 12-6, and another on the road to the Seattle Mariners, 9-8. Minor leaguers played a major role.  The farm system was key to Cleveland claiming the 2022 AL Central crown as an astounding 17 players made their MLB debuts along the way. Outfielders Steven Kwan and Oscar Gonzalez contributed mightily and are now considered key players for the 2023 season. Others such as Will Benson, Nolan Jones, and Ernie Clement have been traded away. Some remain on our prospects list, such as Will Brennan, Gabriel Arias, Richie Palacios, Bo Naylor, and others.

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Previewing the Guardians’ Top Prospects

Before we get into the top prospects for 2023, let’s look at how the 2022 club was put together through the draft, amateur free-agent signings, MLB free agency, and trades:

2022 Cleveland Guardians System

TEAM LEVEL LEAGUE (DIVISION) W-L PLACE
Cleveland Guardians MLB American (Central) 92-70 First
Columbus Clippers AAA International (West) 85-64 Third
Akron RubberDucks AA Eastern (Southwest) 79-59 Second
Lake County Captains High-A Midwest (East) 76-53 First
Lynchburg Hillcats Low-A Carolina (North) 63-68 Fifth
ACL Guardians Rookie Arizona Complex (Central) 28-24 Third
Guardians Blue Rookie Dominican Summer (North) 31-29 Fifth
Guardians Red Rookie Dominican Summer (North) 17-42 Seventh

A total of 316 players were in the Guardians’ system at some time in 2022:

RHP OF 2B-3B-SS LHP C 1B-DH
145 47 44 39 27 16

Fifty players appeared in at least one game for Cleveland in 2022:

  • 23 were Cleveland draft picks
  • 16 were acquired in trades
  • 5 were signed as MLB free agents
  • 3 were signed as amateur free agents
  • 1 was claimed in the Rule 5 Draft
  • 1 was claimed off waivers
  • 1 had his contract purchased from an MLB team
  • 17 made their MLB debuts
  • 34 played in Cleveland’s farm system before their debut for the Indians/Guardians

Drafted Players

Position and Player Year Round
* OF Will Benson 2016 1st
RHP Shane Bieber 2016 4th
1B Bobby Bradley 2014 3rd
* OF Will Brennan 2019 8th
RHP Aaron Civale 2016 3rd
INF-OF Ernie Clement 2017 4th
* RHP Xzavion Curry 2019 7th
* INF Tyler Freeman 2017 2nd
* RHP Hunter Gaddis 2019 5th
LHP Sam Hentges 2014 4th
* OF Nolan Jones 2016 2nd
RHP James Karinchak 2017 9th
* OF Steven Kwan 2018 5th
* C Bryan Lavastida 2018 15th
* LHP Kirk McCarty 2017 7th
RHP Triston McKenzie 2015 1st
RHP Eli Morgan 2017 8th
* RHP Cody Morris 2018 7th
* C Bo Naylor 2018 1st
* INF-OF Richie Palacios 2018 3rd
RHP Zach Plesac 2016 12th
RHP Nick Sandlin 2018 2nd
* LHP Tanner Tully 2016 26th

Rule 5 Draft

Position and Player Year From
RHP Trevor Stephan 2020 Yankees

Amateur Free Agents

Position and Player Year From
INF Yu Chang 2013 Taiwan
* OF Oscar Gonzalez 2014 Dominican Republic
OF Jose Ramirez 2009 Dominican Republic

MLB Free Agents

Position and Player Year Previous Team
RHP Enyel De Los Santos 2022 Pirates
RHP Ian Gibaut 2022 Twins
LHP Anthony Gose 2019 Rangers
C Luke Maile 2022 Brewers
RHP Bryan Shaw 2021 Mariners

Acquired in Trade

Position and Player Year From
LHP Logan Allen 2019 Padres
* INF Gabriel Arias 2020 Padres
* OF Alex Call 2018 White Sox
RHP Anthony Castro 2022 Blue Jays
RHP Emmanuel Clase 2019 Rangers
C Austin Hedges 2020 Padres
INF Andres Gimenez 2021 Mets
OF Oscar Mercado 2018 Cardinals
INF Owen Miller 2020 Padres
1B-OF Josh Naylor 2020 Padres
RHP Cal Quantrill 2020 Padres
* LHP Konnor Pilkington 2021 White Sox
RHP Yohan Ramirez 2022 Mariners
DH-OF Franmil Reyes 2019 Padres
SS-OF Amed Rosario 2021 Mets
OF Myles Straw 2021 Astros

Waiver Acquisition

Position and Player Year From
LHP Alex Young 2021 Diamondbacks

Contract Purchased

Position and Player Year From
C Sandy Leon 2022 Reds

* Made MLB debut

Josh Bell Homers as Guardians Fall to Royals

Josh Bell of the Cleveland Guardians
GOODYEAR, AZ – FEBRUARY 23: Josh Bell #55 of the Cleveland Guardians poses for a photo during the Cleveland Guardians Photo Day at Goodyear Ballpark on Thursday, February 23, 2023 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by David Durochik/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

First baseman Josh Bell, the Guardians’ prize free-agent signing, hit his first homer in a Cleveland uniform. The two-run shot came with two outs in the first inning. Triston McKenzie pitched two scoreless innings, but Touki Toussaint was touched for three runs in 1 1/3 innings and lefty Tim Herrin yielded two runs in an inning. Still, Cleveland led entering the ninth when the Royals rocked minor-leaguers Juan Zapata and Yeury Gervacio for six runs on four hits and three walks. Outfielder Joe Lampe, a third-round pick last year, had two of Cleveland’s 10 hits.

Mixed Day for Minor Leaguers in Loss to Mariners

Logan Allen and Aaron Pinto each yielded four runs and three hits as Cleveland fell behind, 8-1, in the second inning at Peoria. Then backup catchers Zack Collins (2-for-3 as a DH), Michael Berglund (1-for-2, run, 3 RBI as DH), Meibrys Viloria(1-for-2, run) and Bryan Lavastida (1-for-2) helped tie it at 8. Outfielder Connor Kokx (2-for-3, 2 runs) and RHP Peyton Battenfield (4 Ks in two hitless innings) chipped in. RHP Ross Carver yielded an eighth-inning run and was the loser.

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