Guardians show contact-first approach on Day 2 of Draft

July 10th, 2023

The Guardians have developed a trend on Day 2 of the 2023 MLB Draft.

The big league squad has become known for its contact-first approach, prioritizing the ability to get on base over the long ball. While it’s not necessarily the only skill the club is looking for when it’s drafting hitters, the team’s vice president of scouting, Paul Gillispie, explained last week that if you can get as many players who can bring the barrel to the ball consistently as possible, you should be in pretty good shape.

That mantra has carried into Rounds 3-10 on Monday afternoon. Let’s take a look at who the Guardians selected on Day 2 of the MLB Draft:

Round 3, 93rd overall: C.J. Kayfus, 1B/OF, University of Miami
Notable Skill: Hitting for average. The lefty hitter batted .298 in his first year in 2021, .366 in ’22 and .348 in ’23. The biggest difference with this past season is that he added some power. He wanted to gain some muscle this season to bring another dimension to his game. For the first time in his career, he logged double-digit homers, smacking 13 with 41 RBIs in 62 games.

Fun Fact: Kayfus will already have a familiar face in Cleveland’s system. On Sunday, the Guardians drafted his University of Miami teammate, reliever Andrew Walters, in Competitive Balance Round B.

Quotable: “The hitting tool, he was as good as anybody,” former Miami coach Gino DiMare told The South Florida Sun-Sentinel earlier this month. “Defensively, he was very good. Baserunning-wise, he was the best baserunner on our team. He developed and got some more pop.”

Round 4, 125th overall: Cooper Ingle, C, Clemson University
Notable Skill: Making contact. Ingle hits for average with little power. But his ability to put the ball in play from the left side of the plate is above average. According to MLB Pipeline, just 11 percent of his swings resulted in misses this spring, including only 6 percent against fastballs. In 2022, he hit .328 with 13 doubles and eight homers in 54 games. In ’23, he hit .328 with 15 doubles and six homers in 62 games.

Fun Fact: It’s clear from all of Ingle’s social media platforms that he prioritizes giving back to his community. Last July, he announced that he’d be teaming up with Valiant Player -- a group that creates community service opportunities for student athletes who wish to give back.

Quotable: “The things that stand out about Cooper, another guy that can manage the strike zone, hard contact to all fields,” Gillispie said. “He has the ability to catch, but he also has played multiple positions at Clemson, so that adds some depth to his defensive profile.”

Round 5, 161st overall: Christian Knapczyk, SS, University of Louisville
Notable Skill: Bat-to-ball skills. Again, the Guardians are focusing on another contact-heavy, lefty hitter with little power. MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis said Knapczyk has one of the most extreme offensive profiles in this Draft. He’s a 60-grade hitter but with 20-grade power. In his last two collegiate years with Louisville, he had more walks than strikeouts.

Fun Fact: In 2023, Knapczyk earned All-ACC Third Team honors. He was majoring in sports management at Louisville. Coming out of high school, he was rated the No. 5 shortstop in Illinois by Perfect Game.

Quotable: “He’s got some feel to hit, got some contact skills, some versatility, can move around the diamond,” Gillispie said. “Christian has been one of the more consistent and reliable players in the ACC. … So, [we are] really excited about him and the things that he brings.”

Round 6, 188th overall: Tommy Hawke, OF, Wake Forest University
Notable Skill: Speed. MLB Pipeline has Hawke as a 70-grade runner. At times, he’s able to get down the first-base line in less than four seconds. In 50 stolen base attempts in college and summer ball, Hawke was successful 44 times.

Fun Fact: MLB Pipeline made a list of the top 250 Draft prospects and Hawke was the smallest player on that list, standing at 5-foot-8 and weighing 155 pounds. His lack of physicality may be a concern, but what he doesn’t have in size, he makes up for in speed.

Quotable: “Tommy is the grittiest dude I have ever coached,” Hawke’s assistant coach Chris Vogler from Reagan High School told The Winston-Salem Journal. “Give me nine Tommy Hawkes and I won’t lose many games.”

Round 7, 218th overall: Alex Mooney, SS, Duke University
Notable Skill: Speed. Mooney has above-average arm strength that could be his best tool, but we’ll focus on his speed. The righty hitter has good instincts on the basepaths and in just two seasons with Duke, he’s moved into 22nd place in school history with 33 career stolen bases, 21 of which came in ’23 -- a team high.

Fun Fact: Mooney was the top prospect in Michigan coming out of high school in 2021. He drew interest from big league clubs and had the possibility of being a top-two-round pick, but ended up going undrafted because of his commitment to Duke. He earned Michigan Mr. Baseball and Perfect Game/Rawlings Michigan High School Player of the Year.

Quotable: “Alex has a really nice, all-around tool set, skill set, instincts and a really good feel to play the game” Gillispie said. “He has the ability to bring the barrel to the ball with a lot of regularity.”

Round 8, 248th overall: Jonah Advincula, OF, Washington State University
Notable Skill: Speed. The Guardians have gone on a tear with drafting speedy position players. After transferring from Redlands University (a Division III school), Advincula had 24 stolen bases for Washington State this year – the most for the school since 1996. He was only caught stealing twice.

Fun Fact: As a senior at Archbishop Mitty High School (Calif.), Advincula was named the West Catholic Athletic League Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Along with his baseball honors, he was also named All-WCAL second-team in football.

Quotable: “It’s one of those things where you might have some questions about a player in terms of how they might handle some of that more advanced competition,” Gillispie said of Advincula’s jump from Division III. “With the season he had, he answered those questions and rang the bell, so to speak. … He went out and proved that he was able to handle some of that high-level competition.”

Round 9, 278th overall: Jay Driver, RHP, Harvard University
Notable Skill: His slider. Driver was a reliever in ’22 and was able to see more velocity in his heater, topping out at 97 mph. But as a starter this year, his velocity dropped down to 91 mph and he was able to lean on his low-80s slider that missed bats at an impressive rate from his low-slot delivery. He recorded 69 strikeouts in 67 1/3 innings.

Fun Fact: Driver didn’t throw a college pitch until 2022 because the Ivy League canceled the ’21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He had just two years to put himself on the map and did so by earning first team All-Ivy honors out of the ‘pen.

Quotable: “He started and relieved at Harvard,” Gillispie said. “He was a starter this year, so we’re looking forward to partnering with him when he gets to the organization to see what the best way to deploy him is.”

Round 10, 308th overall: Matt Wilkinson, LHP, Central Arizona College
Notable Skill: Missing bats. Wilkinson didn’t need much velocity to rack up the strikeouts with Central Arizona College. His fastball only reaches the low 90s but it’s his best offering, as it played a large role in the lefty fanning 136 batters in 84 innings this past season.

Fun Fact: In 2015, Wilkinson pitched for Team Canada in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. In his team’s opening game of the tournament, Wilkinson was on the mound and struck out 16 batters in just five innings against Team Mexico. Canada ended up losing the game, 1-0.

Quotable: “His ability to get guys to swing and miss, and gets a lot of strikeouts despite not throwing too hard,” Central Arizona College head coach Anthony Gilich told The Daily Sentinel last year. “He’s a lovable guy and a fun guy to be around. As a performer, he’s just a good pitcher.”