Guardians’ Good Things Happen in 5-5 Tie with Texas Rangers

Guardians' Good Things Happen In 5-5 Tie With Texas Rangers
(Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

SURPRISE, AZ. — It was a day for Cleveland Guardians good things even though they came in a seemingly innocuous 5-5 tie against the Texas Rangers on Monday.

Oscar Gonzalez broke out of a spring-long slump by going 3-for-3 to lift his average to .194. Cleveland is counting heavily on the second-year outfielder to provide punch in the middle of the order. Josh Naylor (.342) also went 3-for-3 with a two-run homer, his second, rookies Gabriel Arias (.350) and Will Brennan (.278) each had an RBI single, and all-star third baseman Jose Ramirez (.343) doubled and scored.

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Rookie starter Hunter Gaddis (2.77 spring ERA) fanned six without issuing a walk. He gave up one run and three hits over 3 2/3 innings. A starter by trade, the big guy’s big fastball could earn a job in the bullpen with some relievers hurt (Sam Hentges) or scuffling.  The only real sour note for Cleveland (8-13-2) was reliever Eli Morgan (10.29) continuing to fail to get outs. The right-hander yielded four runs on four hits over two innings. Emmanuel ClaseNick Sandlin and Luis Oviedo pitched one hitless inning apiece, each getting one strikeout.

Texas shortstop Corey Seager continued his torrid spring (.474) with two hits and veteran catcher Sandy Leon (.296) had one hit, run and RBI. Leon, 34, played briefly for Cleveland in 2021 and 2022 and is with his sixth MLB team in 11 years. The Rangers are now 11-12-1 this spring.

Next — Umbrellas Up!

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Weather permitting, RHP Triston McKenzie (1-2, 8.10) will make his fifth Cactus League start for Cleveland against Los Angeles Dodgers southpaw and three-time NL Cy Young Award-winner Clayton Kershaw (0-1, 6.14) on Tuesday in Goodyear. Once again, mid-week rain is forecast as the wettest training camp in recent memory continues to dampen every team’s camp. Two of the past three Wednesdays have produced significant downpours. This time, up to nine inches of snow is forecast 40 to 90 miles north of the Phoenix area, where some neighborhoods are experiencing flooding. No problems have been near the 10 ballparks utilized by the 15 MLB teams training in the usual Valley Of The Sun.

Guardians’ Top 100 Countdown: 35 to 31 continues to count down our list of the Guardians’ top 100 prospects. This group includes three outfielders of various skills,  a versatile infielder, and a 6-foot-7 pitcher with even bigger potential.

Here are the previous listings: 36-40 | 41-45 | 46-50 | 51-60 | 61 – 70 | 71 – 80 | 81 – 90 | 91 – 100

The Agony of Da Feet

35. Chase DeLauter, OF       1st-round pick (16 overall) in 2022      6’4”   235   B: L   T: L   10/9/2001

Chase DeLauter of the Cleveland Guardians

Signed for $3.75 million, he won’t play his first pro game until perhaps mid-season due to a broken bone in his left foot. He reported pain while running in December and had bone graft surgery on Jan. 10. He had a different foot fracture last April. Shades of Zydrunas Ilgauskas! The Cleveland Cavaliers’ 7-foot-3 center missed two of his first three NBA seasons with foot injuries after being a first-round pick in 1996.  He played until 2011. DeLauter’s first bad break sent his draft stock tumbling after being mentioned as a possible No. 1 overall pick. In 66 games at James Madison, he slashed .402/.520/.715 with 15 homers, 27 doubles, 4 triples, went 24-for-30 in steal attempts and had more walks (62) than strikeouts (45).

He’s got the arm to play right field and probably enough speed for center – if his feet allow him. He had a 90+ MPH fastball as a scholastic pitcher. There is natural loft and power in his swing, though he is a bit stiff with a twitchy leg movement that should be curtailed. He has been quick enough to handle fastballs up in the zone and isn’t averse to lining them to the opposite field. That is a bit reminiscent of slugger Gorman Thomas, who spent most of his 13-year career with the Milwaukee Brewers and hit 17 homers in 106 games for Cleveland in 1983.

Cleveland has drafted six James Madison players over the years. None made the majors. Overall, 11 of 80 players picked from the school got to The Show. The best was outfielder Billy Sample. He was a speedy (44 steals in 1983) line-drive hitter (.272 in 826 career games) for the Rangers, Yankees and Braves (1978-86).

A Line-Drive Machine?

34. Milan Tolentino, INF       4th-round pick (124 overall) in 2020       6’0”   185   B: L   T: R   11/17/2001

Milan Tolentino of Cleveland

He got $800,000 to sign, hit .301 in the Arizona Complex League and made quite the impression in 2021. Last year at two levels, he was steady, unspectacular, and seemed to change his profile. He went from a solid contact hitter with good glove range at shortstop to more of a stay-at-home, strong-armed third baseman trying to swat it out of the park. Described early on as “a line-drive machine,” he has yet to make nearly as much consistent contact as expected.

Depending upon which scout from another organization or one of the Guardians’ in-house group you talk with, some like him at short, others at third. One said, “he’s utility infielder-bound, just enough overall talent to keep you interested; not enough to get you raving about him.” Versatility plays a big part in Cleveland’s everyday plans so expect the team to keep working with him in every area.

Freaky Streaky

33. Alexfri Planez, OF      International free agent (Venezuela), 2017        6’2”    210    B: R    T: R    8/17/2001

Alexfri Planez of the Cleveland Guardians

Signed for $400,000 on his 16th birthday in 2017, his career has been stalled by injury and the 2020 COVID shutdown. Bothered again by injury to start 2022, the potentially big basher was brutal for two months at Lake County (.161, 1 HR, 1 walk and 14 strikeouts). Then came two good two months (.298, 12 HR, 38 RBI). The more struggles for two months (.223, 10 walks, 43 Ks though 7 HR and 27 RBI). During a 22-game hitting streak when he was at his best, he went 31-for-92 (.337). He had reverse splits, hitting .261 with 14 homers against right-handers and only .220 with five homers off lefties.

Overall as a pro, he has an awful 39 walks to 272 strikeouts ratio. When he makes contact, the ball jumps off his bat, especially the other way to the gap in right-center for doubles and homers. He has a fine arm suited for right field. That’s where he should stay. Period. A look-a-like to former Cleveland outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, though much bigger and stronger, if he can improve his pitch recognition, add in at least a few walks and cut those Ks, he’s got a chance.

Mirror Image?

32. Justin Boyd, OF       Trade from Cincinnati, 2023       6’0” 200    B: R   T: R    3/30/2001

Justin Boyd of the Cleveland Guardians

Cincinnati’s second-round pick a year ago (73rd overall) out of Oregon State was acquired in February for outfielder Will Benson. He hit .373 with 9 homers, 53 RBI and 24 steals last spring before the draft. You can be sure the Guardians were interested in selecting him. Their rookie sensation of 2022, outfielder Steven Kwan, was Cleveland’s fifth-round pick from the same school in 2018. It is not a stretch to reason that since Kwan hit .356 with slightly lesser power numbers in his final year with the Beavers, the organization considers Boyd another prospect from a program that has produced positive results. Boyd is a bit bigger, but his power projection is low.

So what? Kwan has fared well and his arm doesn’t compare with Boyd. Both can run and are suited for center or left field. Both spray hits to all fields and work deep into counts. And both do not grade out real high in any aspect, yet they are gritty, hustling ballplayers. He just may be the mirror image of Kwan, a right-handed version of the little lefty loved by fans already.

Campbell’s M-M-M Good

31. Justin Campbell, RHP       1st-round pick (37 overall) in 2022       6’7”   219   B: L   T: R    2/14/2001

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Previously drafted by the Houston Astros out of high school (18th round) in 2019, he instead went to Oklahoma State for three years and got a $1.7 million signing bonus from Cleveland. A two-way player for the Cowboys, he hit .313 his first two years before turning his attention strictly to pitching last spring. He went 9-2 with 141 strikeouts and 25 walks in 101 1/3 innings. Campbell gets good velocity from his three-quarters to overhand delivery. His fastball is regularly in the 94 MPH range and tops out at 98. Instructors in the organization likely will coax more oomph by teaching even better mechanics to a pitcher already on solid ground.

Campbell’s ingredients include a good curve in the upper 70s, fair slider in the mid-80s and sinking change that generates Ks. Like Triston McKenzie a few years ago, there’s room to add muscle and power. He looks like he could be a mid-rotation workhorse and displayed a gritty determination in college that should help him work out of jams and longer into games as a pro.

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