No. 35 overall pick of '18 Draft returns with perfect frame

August 2nd, 2022

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

Guardians top prospect: Rankings | Stats | Box scores

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

Freeman goes deep again (July 24)
Power isn’t Tyler Freeman’s calling card as a prospect. But the Guardians' No. 6 prospect is flexing his muscles this week. 

Freeman went deep again, homering for the second straight game in Triple-A Columbus’ 9-8 loss to Toledo. The latest big fly came as part of a three-hit game for Freeman, his third straight. He also scored twice; the multi-hit game was Freeman’s fourth in five contests.

The 23-year-old infielder is enjoying a productive first season at Triple-A, hitting .273/.365/.365 with six home runs and nearly as many walks (22) as strikeouts (30). But contact is his top tool; Freeman had homered only once in his previous 35 games before this weekend series against Toledo. -- Joe Trezza

Noel clubs another multihomer game (July 23)
For the fifth time this season, Jhonkensy Noel recorded a multihomer game, clubbing a pair of jacks while driving in three runs to power Double-A Akron past Erie, 7-6, at Canal Park.

The No. 13 Guardians prospect mashed a two-run shot in the third and a solo blast in the fifth. In 17 games with the RubberDucks, the 21-year-old has connected on eight roundtrippers.

After swatting 19 home runs with High-A Lake County to open the year, Noel's 27 combined taters leads the Minors. He is sporting a .534 combined slugging percentage across 79 total games this season. -- Rob Terranova

Rocchio homers on three-hit day (July 18)
Brayan Rocchio
has been hot as of late, and Cleveland’s No. 5 prospect continued his torrid month with a three-run homer and two singles on a four-RBI day in Double-A Akron’s 9-0 win over Bowie.

The 21-year-old started his day with a base knock to center field on the sixth pitch of the game before driving in a run on a 1-2 pitch to left in the third. The RubberDucks held a 2-0 advantage until the eighth, when the switch-hitting Rocchio belted a 1-0 pitch over the fence in right -- his 10th of the season. MLB's No. 85 overall prospect has hit eight dingers off of right-handers this year.

The infielder has posted a .396/.439/.679 slash line in July with four homers, three doubles and 11 RBIs in that span. He’s batting .265 with a .783 OPS through 72 games in ‘22. --Stephanie Sheehan

Tena racks up four hits for RubberDucks (July 13)
With four multihit games already to his credit in a hot start to the month of July, Jose Tena did something he'd never done in his pro career: tallied four knocks in a game.

Cleveland's No. 9 prospect homered, doubled and added a pair of singles, driving in a pair of runs and scoring a pair, as Akron rallied to lead late before falling on the road at Bowie, 6-5.

In the lineup for the first time since Sunday, Tena struck out to lead off the game before racking up hits in every at-bat that followed. The shortstop doubled to center in the top of the third before sneaking a home run just over the wall and around the foul pole in right in the fifth. In the sixth, Tena bounced a single through the shifted infield on the right side to drive in a run, and in the ninth, he went the other way for a single on the ground past short.

Tena had five three-hit games this season -- and 21 such performances in his career prior to this year -- before finally notching his first four-hit affair. It continued a strong start to the month that has seen Tena bat .357 with a 1.047 OPS through nine games so far in July.

Akron rallied from down 4-0 to take a 5-4 lead in the top of the ninth before Bowie walked off. -- Tyler Maun

Rocchio clubs go-ahead blast for Akron (July 2)
Brayan Rocchio is officially red-hot. After recording a career-high five RBIs in a four-hit performance in his last game, Cleveland’s No. 4 prospect (MLB No. 69) launched a go-ahead two-run blast in extras as part of a three-hit, three-RBI night in Double-A Akron’s 10-9 win over Erie. 

The 21-year-old recorded a double in the fourth before helping the RubberDucks win the game in the final innings. With two outs, a 2-2 count and his team down by one in the ninth, Rocchio laced a game-tying double to right field to help send the contest into extras. The game remained knotted going into the 12th before Rocchio led off the frame with his seventh dinger of the season to put Akron in the lead for good. The infielder is batting a torrid .341/.388/.727 in his last 10 games with four homers (three in his last two games), 13 RBIs, four walks and just four strikeouts in 44 at-bats.

Also in the game, No. 13 prospect Jhonkensy Noel clubbed two homers for the second game in a row, including a two-run long ball in the 12th inning that sailed out of the stadium to put Akron ahead by four. The 20-year-old has gone 2-for-5 with two jacks and three RBIs in each of his last two games. -- Stephanie Sheehan

Rocchio homers twice, drives in five (June 30)
It was a career night in more ways than one for Brayan Rocchio.

MLB’s No. 70 overall prospect collected his first multihomer game and drove in a career-high five runs in his first four-hit performance since July 13 of last year. Rocchio added a double and a single to go with the two long balls in Double-A Akron’s 13-9 loss at Erie.

"It was really cool because I've never had a two-home run game before," he said. "I was really happy." Full story »

Freeman gets on base five times (June 29)
Tyler Freeman was a man on a mission.

The Guardians' No. 5 prospect put on a hitting clinic in Triple-A Columbus' 16-3 victory over Iowa.

The CB-B round pick (71st overall) in the 2017 Draft was 4-for-6 with three RBIs in the blowout win.

Freeman began his night with an infield single and a soft knock to center, which tallied his first RBI of the game, in the first two innings. He notched another infield single in the fourth and rocketed a two-run single to center in the eighth. Including a walk and reaching on a fielding error, the 23-year-old made it on base in six of his seven plate appearances. His season-high four hits increased his average to its highest point of the season, and he's currently slashing .269/.371/.365. -- Ethan Sands

Daniel Espino resumes throwing after knee, shoulder discomfort (June 26)
The Guardians' top prospect landed on Double-A Akron's injured list on May 3 with knee discomfort. While he was out, he started experiencing right shoulder pain, as well. But as worrisome as that can sound, Espino seems to be on a path to recovery.

Guardians assistant general manager James Harris said that Espino has started to throw again, though the organization is being cautious with putting any timetable on his return.

"We're not going to rush him back," Harris said. "It's not like we have a need in that category in Double-A, so we'd rather him be healthy and return to form. And when he returns to form, he's special, so we'd rather take our time." --Mandy Bell

George Valera stays hot, continues multihit trend (June 24)
The Guardians’ No. 2 prospect has been hot as of late, with back-to-back multihit games. Valera continued that trend, going 2-for-4 with one homer in Double-A Akron’s 3-1 win over Harrisburg.

The 21-year-old continues to be productive at the plate, hitting a single to right field in the first inning. Valera showed his power four innings later, crushing a long ball to center field.

The outfielder’s recent stretch has brought his slash line to .298/.404/.533 on the season. -- Edwin Perez

Allen punches out 11 in second straight start (June 23)
Logan Allen continues to dominate.

After reaching a career-high 11 strikeouts in his previous start, the Guardians' No. 8 prospect matched that record in Double-A Akron's 8-2 victory over Harrisburg. Allen threw 96 pitches, 68 strikes, and only allowed one run on a homer in the second inning. 

The 23-year-old added on to his impressive month of June, totaling 39 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings and posting a 1.75 ERA. 

Allen lowered his season ERA to 3.33 and brought his season strikeout total to 104. -- Alyssa Gomez

Logan Allen deals, sets career high in K’s (June 16)
It was a career game for Logan Allen.

The Guardians’ No. 8 prospect has been fanning hitters in the month of June, a total of 17 strikeouts in his last two starts. The 23-year-old topped those performances with a career high 11 strikeouts while allowing no runs on two hits across six innings in Double-A Akron’s 1-0 win over Hartford.

Allen was dealing throughout the game, striking out five of six batters in the fourth and fifth inning. The lefty's lone blemishes were two infield hits to third base in the second and third inning.

The 2020 second-round pick's outing has lowered his ERA to 3.55 and brought his strikeout tally to 93 in the 60 innings he has pitched this season. -- Edwin Perez

Freeman ropes pair of doubles, drives in three runs (June 14)
Tyler Freeman laced a pair of doubles, drove in three runs and stole a base in Triple-A Columbus' 8-7 loss to St. Paul at Huntington Park.

The fifth-ranked Guardians prospect led off the third inning with a two-bagger into center. After an out was recorded, he took off and successfully swiped third for his third stolen base of the year. After a walk by Bobby Bradley, Freeman trotted home on a balk. In the fourth, the 23-year-old cleared the bases with a double to right that broke a 4-4 tie.

MLB.com's No. 76 overall prospect has 10 extra-base hits, 25 RBIs and 24 runs scored over 36 games this season. -- Rob Terranova