Guardians prospects tease bright future with Fall League success

Kyle Manzardo and Chase DeLauter each go yard in standout night

October 10th, 2023

PEORIA, Ariz. – The future of the Guardians' offense is currently demolishing baseballs across Arizona Fall League ballparks. and both obliterated no-doubt homers during Peoria's 5-3 win over Surprise on Monday afternoon at Camelback Ranch, with both balls leaving the bat at a projected 108 mph.

For Manzardo, it was his first wallop of the fall circuit, going out 446 feet to straightaway center field and nearly clearing the batter's eye. DeLauter's was a 3-0 rip that landed high up onto the berm, leaving the right fielder to give merely a cursory glance as it sizzled 440 feet over his head.

Both Manzardo (Cleveland's No. 2 prospect) and DeLauter (CLE No. 4) are on hand in the desert to further their potent offensive arsenals and make up valuable time after shoulder and foot injuries, respectively, cut into their breakout 2023 campaigns.

Before either could unleash their power cuts, they battled against Surprise starter Ricky Tiedemann, the top-ranked hurler in attendance during the Fall League. If there has been a weak spot for either Manzardo or DeLauter over the past year, it's been against southpaws -- and this wasn't just any lefty, it was MLB's second-ranked LHP prospect and the No. 31 overall talent.

"I think for us like it's you kind of just got to treat him like another guy," DeLauter said. "Yeah you prepare for his stuff, and we all know he's good, but you can't go in there already thinking like you're down. He still has to come out and put you away. So, I mean, trying to get your best stuff off and having a plan I think is huge against a guy like that for sure."

Locking in early paid extreme dividends later on. While Manzardo has proclaimed that getting at-bats vs. lefties is a key during his time in Arizona, it was his first at-bat against a righty that swung the pendulum in Peoria's favor.

"He's got pretty firm carry on his heater, so trying to push that down," Manzardo said postgame of Rangers pitcher Justin Slaten. "And then, obviously, [I got] an offspeed pitch up."

When Manzardo has made resounding contact this year, the result has almost always been him jogging around the bags -- of his nine hardest-hit balls during the regular season, eight went for home runs. He has hit just one long ball at Triple-A that has gone further.

For all of the excitement around the homer, Manzardo was impacting the game even earlier. MLB's No. 58 overall prospect joined this week's Pipeline Podcast and told the crew that he believes he's a better fielder at first than he gets credit for. That acumen was on full display in the third, when with the infield in with a runner at third and one out, he snared a hot smash off the bat of Surprise's Michael Trautwein, preventing a run from crossing the dish.

"You're telling yourself you're expecting the ball in that spot," Manzardo said, "and just letting yourself and all the preparation, work kind of take over."

DeLauter, MLB's No. 85 overall prospect, has opened Fall League play scorching hot, a continuation of his 48-game closing stint between High-A Lake County and Double-A Akron where he hit .355 with a .945 OPS. After homering on AFL Opening Night and collecting what would be a career-high five RBIs, he has slashed .320/.355/.600 in six outings with the Javelinas.

Entering his final at-bat of the afternoon hitless, he worked the count to 3-0 against Surprise righty Andrew Moore (Reds), who had just entered the game. DeLauter was banking on the hard-throwing reliever giving him a heater -- and he didn't miss it.

"Granted, you still got to get the heat, the pitch you want and get it over the plate," DeLauter said. "You know, the last thing I want there is to get sawed off on a 3-0 pitch or get beat. So I made sure to get the foot down and just gave it the best swing I can."

The Javelinas remain undefeated through seven days of Fall League action on the back of their offense, which, as Manzardo and DeLauter made apparent, boasts considerable thump throughout the order. Joining the star Guardians duo are Mariners catcher Harry Ford and Rays shortstop Carson Williams, who are also Top 100 overall prospects, giving the group the most of any lineup in this year's Fall League.

"I mean, [manager Morgan Ensberg] said this morning, we've got four of our best hitters on the bench, like every single night," Manzardo said. "You know what I mean? It's like one through nine, everybody's hitting."