Guardians take powerful OF DeLauter with No. 16 pick

Cleveland adds RHP Campbell at 37, LHP Messick at 54

July 18th, 2022

The Guardians certainly could use some more powerful outfield bats in their system, and they made that their top priority heading into the 2022 MLB Draft.

On Sunday night, the club selected 20-year-old outfielder Chase DeLauter with its first-round pick (16th overall) of the MLB Draft. DeLauter becomes the first player from James Madison University to be selected in the first round.

“I think what stands out is his ability to leverage the ball,” Guardians director of amateur scouting Scott Barnsby said. “I think some of the things that stand out to our group are his pitch recognition, his strike zone awareness, and so not only does he have really good bat-to-ball, but he can impact the ball to all fields. … We honestly feel like he’s just scratching the surface.”

The flashiest tool DeLauter boasts is his power. He had 15 homers in 66 games during his three-year tenure with James Madison. DeLauter hit .382 in 16 games in 2020 in his freshman season and returned in his redshirt freshman season in ’21 to slash .386/.508/.723 in 26 games.

Here’s what our experts with MLB Pipeline had to say: “Some might question the length in his swing path, and some scouts point to being overmatched against Florida State to start the season as proof that it won’t work against better pitching, but he had no problem getting to his power with wood on the Cape, and the fact he has more walks than strikeouts in his career points to a solid approach.”

The 6-foot-4, 235-pound outfielder has relatively decent speed, which has helped him continue to get time in center field, however MLB Pipeline reported that most see a move to a corner spot in the future. Even though DeLauter was also a pitcher in college (averaging between 90-92 mph with his heater), expect to eventually see him move over to that right-field spot.

“He’s extremely athletic,” Barnsby said. “Feel good about his abilty to play center field, but he also has the arm strength. … He came in as a two-way player as well, so he’s got some carry to his throws. So, obviously you can play him in right field, but he’s athletic enough to move around the outfield.”

DeLauter was off to yet another hot start with James Madison this season, hitting .437 with a 1.404 OPS in 24 games when his season was halted after breaking his foot in April while sliding into second base and underwent surgery on April 12.

“We actually had an opportunity to meet with him at the combine,” Barnsby said. “He told us that he was 95% of the way there, and the other 5% was just mental. We actually had a workout just before the draft … and at that point, he said, ‘Hey, I’m 100%.’ So, yeah, we feel really good about it.”

RHP Justin Campbell selected at No. 37 out of Oklahoma State
The Guardians’ first day of the MLB Draft continued with a Competitive Balance Round A selection of Campbell out of Oklahoma State University. The 6-foot-7-inch, 219-pound hurler had a 3.37 ERA in 35 games (33 starts) in three collegiate seasons, finishing with the seventh-most strikeouts in school history (265).

“It’s a big body,” Barnsby said. “He moves extremely well. The coordination, how he uses his lower half, the timing, the way syncs up his delivery, but what’s also exciting there is he continues to develop physically.”

Campbell was selected in the 18th round of the 2019 MLB Draft by the Astros out of a California high school. He opted to attend Oklahoma State University and served as a two-way player until this season, when he decided to focus on pitching. Campbell has a heater that sits around 92 mph and can touch 97 mph that pairs with a solid changeup and a mid-70s curveball.

Here’s what our experts at MLB Pipeline had to say about Campbell: “Extremely athletic for his size, he provides plenty of strikes and can win on days that he lacks his best stuff. He’s a high-floor starter with a good probability of filling a No. 4 slot in a rotation.”

LHP Parker Messick selected at No. 54 out of Florida State
As long as the Guardians are targeting collegiate players, they decided to add one more before the end of the first night of the Draft. With their second-round pick (54th overall), the Guardians selected lefty hurler Messick out of Florida State University. After having limited experience out of the Seminoles’ bullpen in a pandemic-shortened season in 2020, Messick came back with a vengeance in ’21, earning the Friday night starter role and pitching to a 3.10 ERA with a 12.6 strikeouts per nine innings ratio.

After pitching for Team USA last summer, Messick returned for his ’22 season with the Seminoles and owned a 3.38 ERA with 144 strikeouts in 98 2/3 frames and a 0.973 WHIP. Messick has a four-pitch mix with a heater that averages 91 mph and can reach 95 mph, a low-80s changeup (his best secondary offering, according to MLB Pipeline), a curveball and slider.

“It’s an easy average fastball,” Barnsby said. “He can go back and get 95 [mph] when he wants it. He’s got an advanced feel for a changeup that he neutralizes lefties and righties with two different breaking balls, pounds the strike zone, extremely competitive.

“All of these guys we got, we feel really good not only about the player, about the makeup, but more importantly, we feel really good about the work that was put into it by our area scouts and our entire staff.”