The latest on Guardians top prospects

September 27th, 2022

Welcome to the Guardians prospect update, where you’ll find news, promotions and standout performances, all year long.

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Naylor goes DEEP twice for Triple-A Columbus (Sept. 26) 
Bo Naylor blasted a pair of roundtrippers, as part of a three-hit, five-RBI night as Triple-A Columbus romped Indianapolis, 17-1, at Huntington Park.

The Clippers scored 17 runs on 19 hits and six home runs. Every Columbus starter recorded at least one knock and all but one scored at least one run.

"I think we all fed off of each other," the fifth-ranked Guardians prospect said. "Especially me with all the guys."

It was the second multihomer game of the month for the slugger, who went deep twice on Sept. 6 against Louisville. Full story »

Arias, Brennan join the big league team (Sept. 22)
Tenth-ranked Guardians prospect  and 20th-ranked have each been promoted from Triple-A Columbus to Cleveland. Arias, an infielder, played in two big league games in April and four more in July. Brennan, an outfielder who began the season at Double-A Akron, will be making his Major League debut, but "has been knocking on the ... door all season," per Mandy Bell.

Espino still not pitching competitively (Sept. 12)
Guardians top prospect Daniel Espino has been out since May 3 with right shoulder soreness. With the Minor League season coming to a close next week, don't expect to see him back in action again in 2022.

The Guardians said on Monday that Espino is still in Arizona, working through a return-to-play rehab program that now probably won't get him back before the season is over. So the club is working through its decision of whether Espino will pitch competitively -- in some capacity -- this offseason.

The 21-year-old righty has one of the most electric arms in the Minors, which is why Cleveland is equally excited about his future and also overly cautious when dealing with decisions for him to return to action. In 20 starts in Single-A and High-A last year, Espino fanned 152 batters in 91 2/3 innings with 39 walks and a 3.73 ERA. He owned a 2.45 ERA in four starts with Double-A Akron this season before he was shut down.

Valera blasts seventh homer at Triple-A (Sept. 11)
It took George Valera a while to notch his first hit of Triple-A Columbus' 8-5 win over Louisville, but he made it count. 

MLB Pipeline's No. 32 overall prospect walked in the fifth inning on four straight balls. But in the ninth inning, he cracked into the hit column. The 21-year-old cranked a two-run homer to right field for his seventh blast at Triple-A and 22nd of the season. 

The designated hitter was promoted to the Clippers on Aug. 8. He's slashing .235/.355/.490 since being elevated. As he adjusts to the new challenges at the next level, Valera is displaying that his power will be an asset at all levels. -- Ethan Sands

No. 3 prospect fans seven in bounce-back outing (Sept. 8)
Gavin Williams knows how to have a rebound game.

Cleveland's No. 3 prospect has gone the entire season without having two bad starts in a row. In Double-A Akron's 3-2 win over Harrisburg, the right-hander continued that narrative.

In his previous start, on Sept. 2 against Altoona, Williams allowed four runs on five hits while fanning 10, but the 23-year-old bounced back against the Senators. He tossed six innings, allowing one run on five hits and a walk while fanning seven batters.

This season, whenever Williams has allowed three runs or more, he's followed it with allowing one run or less in his next appearance.

The first-round (23rd overall) selection in the 2021 Draft was promoted to Double-A on June 6 from High-A Lake County. On the season, he's 5-4 with a 2.01 ERA in 24 starts, with 147 strikeouts in 112 innings. He ranks 15th in the Minors in K's.

Naylor produces first multihomer game of the season (Sept. 6)
When Bo Naylor hits the ball, it can carry. 

The No. 5 Guardians prospect showed off the pop in his bat, producing his first multihomer game of the season as he went 2-for-4 with two long balls in Triple-A Columbus’ 6-5 loss to Louisville. 

The 22-year-old’s day started off rough as he struck out in his first at-bat. Naylor’s showcase of power came when he hit a solo shot to right field in the third inning and a two-run blast to left-center field in the eighth inning.

The catcher's night raised his homer tally to 16 and improved his slash line to .262/.400/.481  on the season. -- Edwin Perez

Rocchio falls triple shy of the cycle (Aug. 31)
Brayan Rocchio finished off August showing his capability to produce.

The No. 4 Guardians prospect went 3-for-4 with one homer and two runs in Triple-A Columbus’ 7-0 win over Iowa.

The 21-year-old started the game displaying his power as he hit a solo homer to center field in the first inning. Rocchio finished a triple shy of the cycle as he hit a single in the seventh and a double in the third inning.

The shortstop improved his slash line to .266/.342/.432 between Double-A Akron and Triple-A this season. -- Edwin Perez

Brennan falls double shy of cycle at Triple-A (Aug. 27)
The home run and triple are considered the most difficult quarters of the cycle to obtain, but Will Brennan had them in his back pocket by the fourth inning of Triple-A Columbus' eventual 8-2 win over Buffalo.

Ultimately, the Guardians' No. 21 prospect fell a double shy of the milestone but he led the Clippers with three hits and five RBIs in the win. Elsewhere in the lineup, Cleveland's sixth-ranked prospect Nolan Jones, back from two months in the Majors, recorded three hits and clocked his sixth home run of the year.

Brennan's blast was also his sixth since his promotion from Double-A Akron in late May. He put Columbus in front 2-1 with the drive to right field in the third inning then broke the game open with a bases-clearing triple in the fourth. The 24-year-old is hitting .311 with an .827 OPS in 73 Triple-A games. -- Jacob Resnick

Valera homers twice -- again -- for Columbus (Aug. 25)
George Valera, the second-ranked Guardians prospect, launched a pair of home runs in Triple-A Columbus' 9-6 victory over Buffalo at Sahlen Field. The two solo shots give him four in his first 13 Triple-A games since being promoted from Double-A Akron on Aug. 8. He has also laced three doubles.

The 21-year-old outfielder belted his first homer of the contest in the second inning off Buffalo starter Casey Lawrence, and then blasted his other in the seventh off reliever Kyle Johnston. He also added a single for good measure in the eighth. His three-hit performance on the day raised his average from .227 to .271 since joining Columbus. Full story »

Valera clubs first two Triple-A homers for Clippers (Aug. 19)
It took George Valera nine games with the Clippers to club his first Triple-A home run. And he must have really liked the feeling because he only waited two innings to hit his next one.

The second-ranked Guardians prospect mashed a pair of jacks to help power Columbus to a 7-4 victory over Toledo at Huntington Park.

Valera was promoted to the Clippers on Aug. 9. Entering action on Friday, the 21-year-old was 6-for-29 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored with Columbus. He nearly doubled that with two swings of the bat against the Mud Hens. Full story »

Rocchio equals personal best with four hits for Akron (Aug. 17)
Brayan Rocchio
snapped a 2-for-15 stretch with his second four-hit game of the season to lead Double-A Akron past Erie, 10-4. Baseball's No. 72 overall prospect doubled, singled three times and drove in a pair of runs.

Rocchio entered the day batting .226 in his first 53 at-bats this month, a far cry from his blistering July when he slashed .354/.436/.598. The fifth four-hit game of his career lifted his overall slash line to .267/.352/438 with 35 extra-base hits, 62 runs and 48 RBIs in 96 games for the RubberDucks. --Michael Avallone

Minor Leaguer puts the 'ground' in 'groundout' (Aug. 17)
Let's just say Ernie Clement is not a name earthworms and other dirt-loving creatures will speak fondly of. The play will go down as a "2-unassisted putout" in the scorebook, but his first at-bat groundout was anything but normal in Triple-A Columbus' matchup with Toledo.

Leading off the home second inning for the Clippers, Clement chopped a 1-2 offering into the ground right in front of home plate. Literally, into the ground. The ball took a direct dive into the dirt and didn't move. No bounce, no wiggle ... just a ball stuck in the proverbial mud. A magnetic force placed directly under the path of the ball could not have done a better job.

It took Toledo catcher Dustin Garneau a second to realize what had happened, but he immediately picked up the ball and tagged Clement for an unusual out. For his part, Clement, a 2017 Draft pick who has 264 Major League at-bats to his name, realized the ball was fair and made no attempt to run. Full story »

Williams unhittable for RubberDucks (Aug. 16)
Akron’s Gavin Williams has squared off with Erie three times since he was promoted to Double-A in June. His third outing was his best yet.

Baseball's No. 56 overall prospect Williams threw six hitless innings, striking out four without a walk, as his RubberDucks downed the host SeaWolves, 5-1.

Williams started his day on a roll, retiring the first 10 batters he faced, three via strikeouts. With one gone in the top of the fourth, Erie’s Andrew Navigato reached on a fielding error. He was replaced at first base two batters later when Quincy Nieporte grounded into a fielder’s choice that saw Navigato retired at second. Full story »

Halpin goes deep in four-hit game (Aug. 14)
Petey Halpin could not be stopped in the box.

The No. 15 Guardians prospect smashed a home run and plated three runs in a four-hit game en route to High-A Lake County's 13-7 victory Fort Wayne.

The 20-year-old didn't hesitate to start hot, as he belted an RBI double to right in the first inning, followed by crushing a solo home run in the third. Halpin knocked his next hit by bunting a single down the left field line. The lefty capped off his night with an RBI single driven up the middle.

It was the first four-hit game of Halpin's career. He raised his slash line for the season to .271/.357/.400. -- Alyssa Gomez.

Arias continues blazing August with multihomer game (Aug. 11)
Gabriel Arias is reminding everyone why he's Cleveland's No. 4 prospect with his performances in August.

The 22-year-old continued his recent success in Triple-A Columbus' 8-6 win over St. Paul. The shortstop's first hit of the night came in the sixth inning by way of the long ball, a two-run homer to left-center field to cap a five-run inning. In his next at-bat, Arias had a similar result, launching a solo shot to center for his 10th homer in 2022.

The Venezuela native is slashing .344/.400/.656 with three homers and five RBIs while reaching base in all but one of the nine games thus far this month.

After making his Major League debut in April this year, Arias is hoping to prove that he can hold his own and reach the highest level for good. -- Ethan Sands

Hankins tosses clean inning in first action since '19 (Aug. 1)
Pitching in a competitive game for the first time Aug. 29, 2019, Ethan Hankins turned in a perfect frame in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League. The 22-year-old right-hander, who underwent Tommy John surgery in May 2021 following the canceled 2020 Minor League season, struck out one batter and induced two ground-ball outs in the ACL Guardians' 11-7 loss to the ACL Brewers Blue.

Hankins was a first-round compensation pick (No. 35 overall) in the 2018 Draft and after a couple Rookie-level starts that summer posted a 2.55 ERA over 14 games -- 13 starts -- between Class A Short-Season Mahoning Valley and Class A Lake County in 2019. Before his surgery, Hankins had impressed with an electric fastball and an advanced but still improving four-pitch mix. -- Josh Jackson