Guardians call up No. 6 prospect Brayan Rocchio

Infielder joins big league club facing infielder shortage, but stay is likely to be short

April 19th, 2023

DETROIT -- Guardians middle infield prospect Brayan Rocchio got his first callup to the big leagues, but this will probably be a short-term stay.

Prior to Wednesday’s series finale against the Tigers, the Guardians promoted Rocchio, the team’s No. 6 prospect (and No. 69 overall, according to MLB Pipeline) to the big leagues and sent righty to Triple-A Columbus.

What sounds like a simple transaction has a lot of moving parts. Let’s break this down as best we can:

Plan for Rocchio
Cleveland wasn’t expecting to have to call on multiple middle infielders this week. When Amed Rosario’s back continued to bother him after the series against the Nationals, the team promoted Tyler Freeman to the big leagues to serve as an extra infielder. But when Freeman injured his shoulder in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader, the Guardians couldn’t go into Wednesday without a backup infielder on the bench.

That’s when the Guardians informed Rocchio that he was needed in Detroit. He made the drive on Tuesday night, but wasn’t sure if he was going to be called up to the big league roster until he got to the ballpark Wednesday morning. The team wanted to be sure that both Freeman and Rosario needed another day of rest before making the move. When it was clear that neither would be ready to return to game action until at least Friday, the Guardians told Rocchio he’d be a depth piece for Wednesday’s game.

“We felt like with Rocchio, this was a good opportunity to get him up here, get his feet wet,” Guardians general manager Mike Chernoff said. “It’s a short-term fit just while we get through this spot with Amed and Tyler both down, and hopefully he can take advantage of it just to feel more comfortable.”

Rocchio will probably leave the big league club by Friday, but he’s nearing the point when he can expect a longer stay in the big leagues. He has hit .344 with an .873 OPS in 15 Triple-A games this year. He controls the strike zone well, makes solid contact, has some power and is a great defender. But the Guardians need to see a little more before his stay in the Majors is permanent.

“He’s off to a pretty hot start at Triple-A,” Chernoff said. “ But I think we’re really looking for him to sort of build in that consistency that we need to see in the Major Leagues, in terms of just effort on every single play and making those routine plays every single time.”

Who’s in the rotation
The first move the Guardians will need to make is getting back on the roster on Friday when he comes off the paternity list. That will likely be the move that sends Rocchio back to Triple-A.

But with Gaddis getting optioned, the Guardians now have just four starters in their rotation. If everything stays on schedule, the earliest the team would need an arm would likely be Tuesday. But weather could throw off these plans. With the forecast questionable over the weekend in Cleveland, the Guardians need to have multiple plans ready in case they suddenly have to play a doubleheader, which would necessitate another starter earlier than Tuesday.

The top candidates to fill this vacancy are Logan Allen, Tanner Bibee, Konnor Pilkington and Xzavion Curry.

It’s more likely for Allen to get the call up if there’s rain. He’s scheduled to take the ball on Saturday for Columbus. If rain causes a postponement on Friday or Saturday, he could be in the picture. But if there’s a rainout in Cleveland on Saturday but not in Columbus, Allen wouldn’t be available.

Pilkington is slated for Columbus on Sunday, but he could pitch for Cleveland instead if there’s a rainout that causes the big league club to play a doubleheader on Sunday.

Bibee is toeing the rubber Wednesday, which means he could be ready to pitch again as early as Monday. If the Guardians make it through the weekend without weather hiccups, they could plan to have him start Tuesday.

Curry is the easiest option, considering he’s already with the club. He’s not as stretched out as the other starters, since he’s been working in relief and hasn’t thrown more than 67 pitches. But depending on the weather and how he’s used out of the ‘pen over the weekend, he could fill the spot.

“There’s a lot of moving pieces,” Chernoff said. “I can promise you we will have a starter whenever that spot does come up, but we’re not exactly sure when it is or who’s going for that spot yet.”