Guardians prospects to watch at each Minor League level

April 5th, 2024

MINNEAPOLIS -- As fun and exciting of a start as the Guardians have gotten off to this year, let’s not forget the impression that the young prospects left on everyone just a few weeks ago in Spring Training.

Fans came to watch the big leaguers get their practice during Cactus League games, but the up-and-comers were the ones who stole the headlines. Outfielder Chase DeLauter was all anyone (Guardians coaching staff included) could talk about once games got underway, as he launched four homers with 10 RBIs in 13 games and was constantly on base. First baseman Kyle Manzardo would have had an even brighter spotlight on him if DeLauter hadn’t outperformed everyone’s expectations, but Manzardo had as good of a spring campaign as any prospect could ask for.

Guardians manager Stephen Vogt needed to get to know his big leaguers, but he was so excited to get to see the future. He couldn’t wait to see righty Jack Leftwich go toe-to-toe with José Ramírez in live batting practice on the backfields. The front office was giddy to watch reliever Andrew Walters dominate in MLB’s inaugural Spring Breakout game.

Cleveland’s farm system has been healthy for a while, but the excitement seems to be on another level this year. Let’s break it down.

Triple-A Columbus Clippers

Player to watch: 1B Kyle Manzardo (Guardians No. 2 prospect, MLB No. 55)
Manzardo can get on base, he can hit for power and his defense at first base has improved. It’s only a matter of time before he’s in the Majors.

Pitcher to watch: RHP Franco Aleman (Guardians No. 29)
Aleman really impressed Vogt in his limited time in big league camp, tossing three scoreless innings with six strikeouts. It was his control that was the problem, as he hit two batters and walked three others. Once he pounds the strike zone consistently, he could be in the Major League bullpen mix.

Other Top 30 prospects on the roster: INF Juan Brito (No. 7), OF George Valera (No. 8), LHP Joey Cantillo (No. 11), OF Johnathan Rodriguez (No. 17), SS José Tena (No. 23), LHP Will Dion (No. 27), INF/OF Jhonkensy Noel (No. 28)

Double-A Akron RubberDucks
Opening Day:
Friday, 7:05 p.m. ET vs. Altoona

Player to watch: OF Chase DeLauter (Guardians No. 1, MLB No. 30)
There isn’t much left to say here. Just be ready for him to soar through Cleveland’s system.

Pitcher to watch: RHP Walters (Guardians No. 26)
Speaking of flying through the system … Walters was spectacular in the Spring Breakout game, hitting 100 mph on the radar gun. Even though he was drafted just last year, he could be knocking on the big league door by the end of the season.

Other Top 30 prospects on the roster: OF Kahlil Watson (No. 15), OF Petey Halpin (No. 16), 3B Dayan Frias (No. 30)

High-A Lake County Captains
Opening Day:
Friday, 6:35 p.m. ET vs. West Michigan

Player to watch: INF Jose Devers (No. 20)
Devers probably is not going to be the power bat the Guardians are in search of, but the speed, arm strength and defense he provides should be a treat.

Pitcher to watch: LHP Parker Messick (No. 22)
The lefty could become an exciting starting option for the Guardians, especially if the pitching development staff works its magic. He might not be the best at spinning the ball, but his above-average changeup helps the rest of his stuff play up.

Other Top 30 prospects on the roster: OF Jake Fox (No. 19), SS Alex Mooney (No. 21)

Single-A Lynchburg Hillcats
Opening Day:
Friday, 7 p.m. ET vs. Down East

Player to watch: C/1B Ralphy Velazquez (No. 5)
Last year’s first-round Draft pick is ready to fully begin his professional career after playing six games in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League in August. Whether he remains a catcher or moves to first base, his bat-to-ball skills and power potential should be on full display.

Pitcher to watch: LHP Alex Clemmey (No. 9)
Clemmey, too, is beginning his professional career after being selected in the second round of last year’s MLB Draft. His heater tops out at 99 mph, and he recently added a slider that could become an average offering.

Other Top 30 prospects on the roster: OF Jaison Chourio (No. 6), INF Angel Genao (No. 12), LHP Jackson Humphries (No. 14), SS Rafael Ramirez Jr. (No. 24)