Cleveland Guardians minor league spring training opened up last week out in Goodyear, Arizona, so there’s no better time to bring you the Cleveland Baseball Insiders top 50 prospects for the upcoming 2022 season.
Articles will publish every two days with ten players covered in each story. Today's rankings will cover prospects 41-50, while 31-40 will come out on Wednesday and so on until we debut our final top 10 list on Tuesday, March 22.
Here are the links and schedule for releasing the other parts of our list:
Columbus is set to open up on April 5th while Akron, Lake County and Lynchburg will all begin their seasons on April 8th.
The Guardians are widely regarded as having one of the deepest farm systems currently in all of baseball. So deep, in fact, that it was very difficult to trim the list down to just 50 players I think could have impact at the MLB level. Probably could easily have ended up listing 75 plus players.
I am implementing the Fangraphs future value grading scale which you will be able to locate under each player video. Future Value is a grade on the 20-80 scale that maps to anticipated annual WAR production during the player’s first six years of service.
My rankings are based off seeing the players live, video and conversations with other evaluators and writers. While prospect lists are fun and entertaining for fans, they are not an end all be all in terms of who make it eventually to the major leagues. Jose Ramirez was never a top 100 prospect nationally. Zach Plesac wasn't even a top 30 prospect in the Guardians organization.
The ultimate goal here is to inform our readers and give you information on some of the young talent in the organization that they can follow and look forward to seeing in the future at the MLB level.
Our list continues below:
Myers spent the 2021 season in the Rays organization spending time at Double-A Montgomery before earning a promotion to Triple-A Durham in late July. He led the Rays farm system in strikeouts with 146 on the season in just 117.2 innings pitched while only walking 28 batters. Myers was Rule 5 eligible after the season and the Rays faced a roster crunch. Rather than lose him he was traded to the Cleveland in November for infield prospect Junior Caminero. He was then added to the Guardians 40-man roster.
Myers offers a four-pitch that includes a fastball with some arm-side run that sits 91-93 mph and can top out around 95. He has a plus downer curveball which is considered his second-best pitch that sits in the upper 70s. Myers also offers a changeup that he uses to keep left-handed batters in check. His fourth pitch is a cutter that sits in the upper 80s but is considered to be below average.
You can see why Cleveland likes him as he pounds the strike zone something you will find throughout the organization. Myers has very good command of all his pitches but is not overpowering. If he doesn't hit his spots he can get touched up.
Myers is participating in MLB spring training trying to earn a rotation spot but will most likely begin the 2022 season at Triple-A Columbus. For the future he looks like he could be a solid fourth or fifth starter in the major leagues if he continues to develop.
Gonzalez signed originally as an international signee back in 2014 out of the Dominican Republic. In 2016 as an 18-year-old Gonzalez took home MVP honors in the Arizona Rookie League hitting .303 with eight home runs and 26 RBI's over 40 games. Gonzalez put up solid numbers but never showed the same power prowess losing some luster as a prospect until last season. In 2021 he went on to hit an organization high 31 home runs between Akron and Columbus over 121 games. His breakout season put him back on the prospect radar.
Gonzalez is a behemoth of a man at 6-foot-4 and 240 lbs. There is no questioning his raw power but there are some questions about his approach. in 2021 he hit more home runs 31 than he had walks 22. Gonzalez owns a 4.0 percent career walk rate and the 22 walks last season where a career high.
On defense he has a cannon arm but is considered a below average defender that struggles with his routes in getting to the ball. Gonzalez has average speed but moves well for his size.
Gonzalez is currently in big league camp in spring training as a non-roster invitee. He has been passed up by the organization three straight years to be protected from the MLB Rule 5 draft. He most likely will begin his 2022 season back at Columbus. His future as a major league player might not be in the outfield but as a designated hitter. Gonzalez is your typical boom or bust prospect and that's why he's not higher on the list.
Vargas signed as an International Free Agent for $275,000, the largest signing bonus of the Cleveland's 2016 class. He didn't make his pro-debut until 2018 in the Arizona Rookie League after missing the 2017 with an elbow strain. In 2019 he pitched for Mahoning Valley. After the 2020 minor league season was canceled and the shortened MLB season ended, he was added to the Guardians 40-man roster despite never pitching in a full minor league season to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft. Vargas injured his elbow during spring training the following year and underwent Tommy John surgery in April of 2021. He is currently rehabbing and expected to return to the mound in June of this year.
Vargas has electric stuff when healthy. His fastball usually sits between 94-97 mph with some run and sink. He has been clocked as high as 101 mph in the past. Vargas slider might be his best pitch though sitting in the mid to upper 80s with a sharp break it grades as a plus to plus plus pitch. His third pitch is a changeup that he utilizes against left-handed hitters that needs further development.
He struggles with the command of all three pitches which hopefully as he develops, he can refine over time. Part of the problem stems from the fact that he creates so much movement on his pitches. Vargas control however is average and not terrible despite struggling with location.
Vargas is currently scheduled to return to the mound sometime in June most likely making a couple rehab appearances in the Arizona Complex League before being sent out on assignment to an affiliate. Most likely destinations would be Lake County or Akron. His MLB future first depends on his health which has been a problem. If he can stay healthy and continue to develop his changeup he could end up a middle of the rotation starter. If he struggles as a starter his plus plus fastball and slider combination could make him an attractive back end bullpen arm.
Hankins was drafted 35th overall by the Guardians 2018. He fell in the draft after missing a month during his senior year in high school with shoulder tightness. At the time he was being viewed as a possible No. 1 overall pick. After pitching in 63.0 pro innings between 2018-19 then missed the 2020 season due to the pandemic. During 2021 spring training Hankins injured his elbow and underwent TJ surgery last May. If rehab goes well he is looking at a mid to late season return to the mound in 2022.
Hankins arsenal includes a fastball that has sinking action with a lot of run it sits around 92-96 mph and peaks at 98. His second best pitch is an above average changeup that runs and sinks like his fastball. He also offers a curveball and slider which need continued development but show promise to be plus pitches
He struggles at times with his command due to the tremendous movement he creates on his pitches. If his command is on he can be unhittable at times. Hankins control is average and doesn't get him in to trouble to often.
Hankins most likely won't appear back on the mound in game action until mid to late season in 2022. He will probably first pitch in the Arizona Complex League for a few rehab assignments then be assigned to an affiliate club. Probably destinations include a return to Lake County in which he finished the 2019 season or possibly Akron. His MLB future could potentially be a top of the rotation starter if healthy and he continues to develop his secondary pitches.
Tucker the younger brother of the Pirates Cole Tucker was drafted in the first round by the Guardians in the first round of the 2020 MLB draft. Unfortunately for Carson he has only been able to play in six professional games so far in his young career. The pandemic wiped out his chances in 2020 and in 2021 a hand injury derailed him for the rest of the season just six games into Arizona Complex League action. Currently he's healthy and participating in minor league spring training.
Tucker makes consistent line-drive contact to all fields. As he adds strength and some loft to his swing his power should increase. He barrels the ball on the bat frequently along with his contact leads to his hit tool grading above average.
His speed is considered above average and he has quick feet which helps him with his range at shortstop. Tucker has a plus arm and soft hands and he may end up at shortstop but has the ability and versatility to play all over the field.
Despite only playing six career games to this point look for the Guardians to push him to full-season ball at Lynchburg to start the 2022 season. His future could be a starting shortstop in the majors or he could easily transition to a starter depending on need at another position possibly outfield. His profile is similar to his older brother with a better hit tool and more power.Scroll to Continue
Heading into 2021 many had high hopes for Bracho after had an impressive pro-debut in 2019 splitting time between the Arizona Rookie League & Mahoning Valley. In 2021 he was promoted to full-season Lake County and started the season as one of the youngest players in the league. Bracho had only played in 38 career games up until this point as a pro. He struggled at the plate having issues with pitch recognition and he became to pull happy. His youth and experience at a level where pitchers average age is 23 years old factored in as well. If he makes adjustments at the plate as gaining more experience in the process, he is a prime candidate to bounce back in 2022.
Bracho has plus power he generates from his compact swing and his terrific bat speed. When he barrels a ball up it has a different sound to it. Though he became to aggressive at the plate in 2021 he had prior showed an advanced feel for the strike zone.
Signed as a shortstop originally Bracho's physical profile and defensive actions and average arm strength have led him to playing all over the infield primarily at second base with some time third and first base as well. He does have quick hands and could end up an average defender especially at second base.
Bracho in 2022 most likely returns to repeat at High-A Lake County where he played the whole year in 2021. Guardians most likely would likely want to see him have some success at that level before promoting him to Akron. If Bracho's bat returns to 2019 form, he will regain top prospect status. His bat is his key to his future at the MLB level. He could be a regular and second, possibly third with 20+ homerun power.
Pilkington was originally drafted by the White Sox in the 3rd Round of the 2018 MLB Draft. He came over in a trade to the Guardians in 2021 for second baseman Cesar Hernandez at the end of July. He spent the whole season in Double-A first at Birmingham with Chicago then he was assigned to Akron after the trade. His combined numbers were excellent in 2021 but he really excelled when he came over after the trade making eight starts striking out 49 batters over 38.2 innings while posting a 2.33 ERA.
Pilkington offers a four-pitch mix from a three-quarter arm slot. His fastball sits 90-93 and tops out at 95 mph. He has a fading changeup is his best pitch along with an average curveball and slider.
Konnor is a big durable lefty that can eat up a lot of innings. He has average command all of four of his pitches. His can struggle with control at times that gets him in trouble, but he still grades out at average.
Pilkington was added to the 40-man roster after the 2021 season and could make his pro-debut in 2022. However, he should start the season in the rotation at Triple-A Columbus. His future in the majors could be a fourth or fifth starter if his secondary stuff continues to develop and he can maintain his fastball velocity.
Curry made his pro-debut in 2021 despite being drafted in the 7th Round out of Georgia Tech in 2019. Shoulder inflammation kept him from the mound in 2019 while 2020 was lost to the pandemic. He didn't show any rust however turning in a spectacular season pitching across three levels. In 19 starts between Lynchburg, Lake County and finally Akron he struck out 123 batters over just 97.2 innings walking just 16 batters while posting a 2.30 ERA.
Curry utilizes a four-pitch repertoire in which he relies heavily on a fastball that sits 90-94 and tops out 96 mph. Curry's second best pitch is a slider that is above average but he needs to be more consistent with it. He throws a changeup and curveball that grade out around average offerings.
He has excellent command on all his pitches which is one reason he had one of the top SO/BB ratios in the minor leagues in 2021. Curry averaged almost eight strikeouts to every walk at 7.89 on the year. The Guardians organization loves guys who pound the strike zone and he definitely fits the bill.
Look for Curry to start the 2022 season at Double-A Akron where he finished the season at last year. Curry is smaller in stature compared to most MLB starters and the thinking among most scouts is he might end up in the bullpen. If he is able to remain a starter, he could be a solid fourth or 5th rotation option in the near future.
Mace was a 2nd Round Pick out of the University of Florida by the Guardians in 2021. The organization decided against having him make his pro-debut until 2022 with the number of innings he had already thrown last year with Florida.
Mace has a four pitch mix recently adding a slider/cutter his senior year with the Gators. He throws a four-seam fastball that can reach 97 mph but it can flat be fairly straight. He also throws a two-seamer that he throws in the lower 90s but has a lot of sink to it. Mace also has a curveball and changeup but didn't utilize them that much his senior year relying on his cutter/slider and fastball combination more.
Stop me if you've heard this before but Mace fits the Guardians pitching profile in the fact that he pounds the strike zone. He is excellent command and control despite all his moving parts of his six-foot-six frame.
Mace should either make his pro-debut for either Lynchburg or possibly be pushed Lake County in 2022. His future as a starter in the majors likely depends on the development of his secondary pitches. He profiles currently has a potential fourth or fifth starter but has some ceiling to potentially move up in the rotation.
Greene a former 2020 2nd Round Pick by the Mets came over in the Francisco Lindor trade. He never played for New York with the 2020 minor league season canceled. Greene made his pro-debut in 2021 with his new organization in the Arizona Complex League. Over 43 games he hit .289 and finished second in the league in both walks 35 and OBP .421 on the season.
Greene has outstanding hand-eye coordination and with his line-drive stroke projects to hit for a good average. Though he only hit one HR in 2021 Greene the bat speed and projectable frame to add more muscle he could possibly develop into a 15-20 HR a year hitter. He has an advanced eye at the plate for his age and knows how to work a count.
He possesses well-above-average speed and is an aggressive runner on the base paths. His speed allows him to cover a lot of ground in center field but he needs to continue to improve on his route running. He has an average arm that possibly could force a move to left field as he advances.
Greene should start the 2022 season at Low-A Lynchburg. Currently his future in the majors looks to be a solid regular in center or left field. His ceiling could be higher if he adds power to his game. His swing and game have been compared to former Cleveland great Michael Brantley.
You may also like:
Guardians Players To Watch As Spring Training Starts
Cleveland Baseball Insider's 2022 Top 50 Guardians Prospects: No. 41-50
Rejuvenated Terry Francona Happy To Be Back With Guardians
Guardians Acquire David Fry From Milwaukee
Guardians Announce 2022 Spring Training Schedule
Be sure to stay locked into Cleveland Baseball Insider all the time!
Follow Cleveland Baseball Insider on Twitter: @CBIonSILike and follow Cleveland Baseball Insider on Facebook!