Brewers Blast Guardians; Bring On Prospects

Brewers Blast Guardians; Bring On Prospects
(Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

PHOENIX, Az. — A few young pitchers on the SportRelay.com Top 100 Countdown of Cleveland Guardians Prospects might get a look-see earlier than expected if Triston McKenzie and others continue to struggle.

McKenzie was belted for five hits and five runs in only 2 1/3 innings Friday by Milwaukee Brewers batters, boosting them to a 12-3 win. Mike Brosseau drove in four runs with a homer and two doubles, former Guardian Owen Miller had an RBI double, and ex-Cleveland prospect Andruw Monasterio an RBI single in the early onslaught.

There are three dozen reasons why the Guardians lost. Their pitchers yielded a dozen runs, a dozen hits, and a dozen walks. That “dozen” cut it.

Guardians May Use More Prospects in Spring

We will look at Guardians prospects ranked 50 to 46 below. Manager Terry Francona may want to see more of them soon should McKenzie, coming off a 10-10 season and expected to be Cleveland’s No. 3 starter, continue to falter. His spring ERA soared to 12.00. Such numbers are never a concern to Francona and his staff unless coupled as they are with the tall right-hander’s seven walks and general inability to get his pitches down in six innings overall across three starts.

Francona did turn to a prospect. Mason Hickman gave up two hits, a walk, and three runs in 2/3 of an inning. As the Soup Nazi character on the 1990s TV show Seinfeld would snarl: “Next!”

It is still early in camp. There’s plenty of time. Yet No. 2 starter Cal Quantrill, currently with Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic, has an 8.10 ERA; No. 5 Zach Plesac is at 11.25, while reliever Eli Morgan (9.00) and lefty rookie hopefuls Konnor Pilkington (7.11) and Tim Herrin (5.40) have been inconsistent.

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Fans back home will panic. Francona and pitching coach Carl Willis will not. Their calm, analytical approach will be the same, hoping that the pitchers will follow. Yet with the goal of repeating as AL Central champions and a lineup that is still a might offensively challenged, they will need pitchers that can step up.

Rookie hopeful David Fry (.417 spring average) hit a solo homer and outfielder Will Brennan (.300) had two of Cleveland’s four hits.

Cleveland Guardians Prospects 50 to 46:

We return to our countdown of players from Cleveland’s plentiful farm system. This group of five features two former high draft picks battling back from arm injuries, a lightning-quick outfielder, a young pitcher transitioning from college ball and a more experienced hurler who has bounced from team to team and is back on familiar turf.

Here are the previous listings: 51-60 | 61 – 70 | 71 – 80 | 81 – 90 | 91 – 100

Soooo Many Setbacks

50. Jack DeGroat, RHP      11th-round pick (343 overall) in 2018     6’1”     201     B: R     T: R     11/29/1996

He missed 2018 & 2019 after elbow reconstruction surgery, 2020 due to the COVID shutdown and then 2021 following shoulder surgery. He finally pitched 26 1/3 innings in relief in 2022 for his first action in six years. Why is he ranked? Because a scout provided a recollection that before all the injuries he believed Cleveland had signed a diamond in the rough for only $125,000. DeGroat threw well last year at Lake County, though he had serious command issues (18 walks). He maintained a very professional approach despite the bases always seemingly jammed.

DeGroat is very much a longshot to make it as the only draft selection ever by Cleveland out of Liberty University. Only six players from the school have made the big time, led by 1990s slugger Sid Bream. He may not deserve this ranking but sentimentality tells you that every once in a while human spirit can defy raw analytical numbers. His determination to keep going despite so many setbacks says volumes about how he still may be able to work some magic. That was the essence of baseball long before computer geeks intervened.

Speed To Burn

49. Isaiah Greene,      OF Trade from Mets,    1/7/21 6’1”     180 B: L     T: L     8/29/2001

Greene was part of the big trade that sent Francisco Lindor to the Mets. Amed Rosario, Andres Gimenez and minor-league pitcher Josh Wolf also came to Cleveland. Greene got $850,000 to sign instead of playing college ball at Missouri after being a second-round choice (69th overall) in 2020. He has incredible raw talent that may need years of instruction to develop. The Guardians figure the wait will be worth it. Greene has electrifying speed, a quick if undisciplined swing, and enough arm to play every spot in the outfield. He should be put in center and encouraged to roam wherever he likes.

Coaching up the bat needs to be a prime priority because if he hits, he’s special. He holds his hands high without movement in a nice, even stance and gets good extension. He needs better pitch recognition. Odds of his making it are fairly reasonable. Of all No. 69 picks overall since the MLB Draft started in 1965, 25 of 57 have made the majors, the best being outfielder Tim Salmon of the Angels (1989). Salmon hit .282 with 299 homers and 1,016 RBI over 14 seasons.

Can He Reclaim Form?

48. Lenny Torres, RHP      1st-round pick (41 overall) in 2018     6’1”     190     B: L     T: L    10/15/2000

He missed 2019 with Tommy John surgery and COVID wiped out 2020. His numbers in 2021 and 2022 were not good but the electric stuff that made him a high pick showed up from time to time. He must show more consistency from a fine 92 to 96 mph fastball with tail that can find the outside corner and freeze right-handed batters. He keeps it and his slider low to induce grounders. The 84-mph slider has a sharp, late break and can be his out pitch. His changeup is ordinary.

That all starts to look like a move to the bullpen may be best. He could be a high-leverage guy used when strikeouts are needed in a jam. Torres has a lean frame and gets velocity from long arms, broad shoulders, and muscular thighs. He hides the ball fairly well from a traditional 3/4 delivery. His athleticism makes him a good fielder. 

1.1 Million-Dollar Man

47. Tommy Mace, RHP      2nd-round pick (69 overall) in 2021      6’6”      225      B: R      T: R      11/11/1998

Signed for $1.1 million, he was the 19th University of Florida product picked by Cleveland over the years. The big right-hander continues to alter his style from a sinker/slider mix in college to turning loose a fastball with a good spin rate higher in the zone to get more strikeouts. The slider and big curve also have plenty of spin. The transition made for an up-and-down pro debut year at Lake County in 2022. It was fun to watch the adjustments begin to take hold in the final three months when he had 47 strikeouts, compared to 27 in the first three months, and limited opponents to a .213 batting average. Lefties hit only .216 off him all year. The breaking balls can be good or bad. He needs to tighten both and get them in the strike zone more. He comes right at batters with a confident approach and is fun to watch when he commands all his pitches.

 

He’s Up. He’s Down. He’s Back.

46. Luis Oviedo, RHP Off waivers from Pittsburgh, 4/26/22      6’5”     250     B: R     T: R     5/15/1999

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Signed by Cleveland as a free agent from Venezuela in 2015, the New York Mets took him in the 2021 Rule 5 Draft, sold him to the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland got him back. It is indicative of an up-and-down career in all aspects. All those clubs like the big fella’s big fastball when he keeps it down. Not up. He’s gone from starting status to primarily relief. He has averaged more than a strikeout an inning across all levels — his most significant upside. He’s become sort of a jumbled mess, yet the Guardians still think they can get him to command all his pitches better and turn the downside into … upside. He pitched a scoreless inning today against the Brewers and has yet to yield a run in four relief outings this spring. Dare we say uplifting?

NEXT: The Guardians host the Oakland Athletics on Saturday and we take a look at five more prospects in the Cleveland farm system.

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