Brennan makes Major splash in Guardians debut

Cleveland continues youth movement as No. 20 prospect records first MLB hit, RBI

September 22nd, 2022

CLEVELAND -- Just when it seemed as though the Guardians couldn’t get any younger, they found a way to do so.

The team announced that it recalled infielder Gabriel Arias and selected the contract of outfielder Will Brennan prior to Wednesday’s 8-2 win over the White Sox in Chicago. In order to make space on both the active and 40-man rosters, Cleveland optioned outfielder Richie Palacios to Triple-A Columbus and utility man Ernie Clement was designated for assignment.

Brennan wasted no time making his Major League debut, getting the start in right field. And he immediately displayed why there's been so much attention on him throughout his Minor League season, making a sparkling catch on Elvis Andrus' fly ball in foul territory, the White Sox first batter of the game.

And just like fellow rookie Steven Kwan, Brennan showed no struggles with his adjustment to the big league level at the plate, picking up his first hit and RBI in his second at-bat before recording another single to right field in the seventh inning.

The timing of the move to promote Brennan isn’t the most common, considering rosters expanded at the beginning of the month and there’s just two weeks remaining in the regular season. Here’s everything we know about the decision and why it was made.

Is Brennan eligible for the playoffs?
Everyone who has been in Cleveland’s organization since Aug. 31 and has been on either the 40-man roster or the injured list is automatically in the playoff eligibility pool. In this case, Brennan, ranked as the club's No. 20 prospect by MLB Pipeline, was not on the 40-man roster at that point.

The only other way a player can become eligible is if they are replacing an injured player and have been in the organization since at least Aug. 31. In this case, Brennan could replace someone such as Anthony Gose, who is out for the rest of the year after underdoing Tommy John surgery.

The short answer: If the Guardians make the postseason and would want to have Brennan on the bench, it can be done.

Why now?
Brennan has been knocking on the big league door all season. It seemed inevitable that he was going to get his first callup to the Majors at some point in 2022, but the Guardians knew they had a difficult decision when the rosters expanded to 28 players on Sept. 1. With just two slots, Guardians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti took a trip to Columbus to explain to all worthy candidates that it’s difficult to promote just two players. Brennan was certainly one of the members of the targeted audience of that conversation.

Manager Terry Francona explained on Wednesday afternoon why it was best to wait until the Minor League season was coming to a close before calling them up.

“We’ve been talking about [Brennan] for quite a while,” Francona said. “Even three, four weeks ago, we were like, ‘OK, this would be our best roster, him and Arias.’ But Chris was like, ‘OK, where do you play him?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know.’ … Even though it looks like our best roster, until we have a better feel, let’s let them play, because they’re gonna play every night and that’s really good for them. And then when we got to a point, we’re like, OK, I think they have four games left, maybe five. They’ve played. So we can get them here.”

What have the reports on Brennan been?
Brennan started the year with Double-A Akron, but after owning a .311 average and .886 OPS with 12 doubles, four homers and 39 RBIs in 36 games, he received a promotion to Columbus.

The 24-year-old outfielder hasn’t let up since, batting .316 in Triple-A with an .838 OPS, 28 doubles, three triples, nine homers, 68 RBIs, 15 stolen bases, 33 walks and 53 strikeouts in 93 contests.

“Hearing a lot of the same stuff that people talked about with Kwan,” Francona said. “The same type of kid. A competitor, which, to me, is a pretty high compliment. They say he has a little bit of an edge to him, in a good way. He likes to compete and he will do what he’s supposed to do, he’ll be on time.

"He’s just a baseball player. I’ve been hearing people talk about him since Spring Training. It was too soon. This kid needs to play. But he went out and had a hell of a year."

Difficult conversation with Clement
Clement played in 64 games with the Guardians this season with some stints at Columbus. He was most recently called back up on Sept. 1, but hardly saw any playing time over the last few weeks. Clement hit .200 with a .485 OPS.

“We told him, ‘We’re not telling you you can’t play,’” Francona said. “He was as professional as you could be and it wouldn’t shock me if somebody claims him. And for Ernie’s sake, I hope they do.”