Cleveland Guardians Top 15 Prospects For 2024

Headlined by three prospects on Just Baseball's Top 100, the Cleveland Guardians have the makings of a sustainable contender.

Kyle Manzardo of the Peoria Javelinas rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the fifth inning during the 2023 Fall Stars Game between the American League Fall Stars and the National League Fall Stars at Sloan Park.
MESA, AZ - NOVEMBER 05: Kyle Manzardo #9 of the Peoria Javelinas rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the fifth inning during the 2023 Fall Stars Game between the American League Fall Stars and the National League Fall Stars at Sloan Park on Sunday, November 5, 2023 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

The Cleveland Guardians have been as consistent of an organization as any in Major League Baseball over the last decade, living atop the AL Central while not breaking the bank to do so. Homegrown talents have headlined the big league success for Cleveland in recent memory, highlighted by Jose Ramirez, now-Met Francisco Lindor, Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie, and most recently outfielder Steven Kwan and right-hander Tanner Bibee.

Team President Chris Antonetti and GM Mike Chernoff have certainly had a type in recent years in both the draft and International Free Agency, prioritizing pitchability college arms and bat-to-ball oriented middle infielders and center fielders. However, They’ve effectively deviated from those types when the player’s fit is right, and it has resulted in sustainable success at the Major League level. The current crop of Cleveland prospects is certainly no exception, looking ready to contribute for a winner in due time.

1. Chase DeLauter – OF – (Double-A)

Height/Weight: 6’4″, 235 | Bat/Throw: L/R | 1st Round (16), 2022 (CLE) | ETA: 2025


As athletic of a 6-foot-4, 230+ pound baseball player you’ll find in the Minor Leagues, DeLauter’s Junior season and professional debut was wiped out by a broken foot before another foot issue delayed his start to 2023. He has made up for lost time by putting up huge numbers in High-A, Double-A and the Arizona Fall League, flashing a potentially elite blend of hit and power.

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Big and strong with a compact swing, DeLauter is direct to the baseball but still packs a punch. He struggled to control his lower half at times at James Madison University, drifting prematurely onto his front foot which could cause bat drag.

He has cleaned things up since joining the Guardians organization, engaging his lower half and holding his back hip more effectively. There’s still a noticeable slide forward as he swings, which results in the short finish that can look like he is cutting off his swing.

It is not necessarily a major detriment because of how efficient his path is, how much bat speed he generates and his barrel accuracy. The one area that could be a challenge for is hard stuff in, as it is even more difficult to avoid being crowded or tied up on velocity inside if there is any premature forward move.

He has already posted exit velocities as high as 112 mph on multiple occasions with a 90th percentile exit velocity above 104 mph in 2023. There’s likely more power in the tank as he continues to improve his base.

DeLauter’s barrel accuracy and efficiency to the ball is extremely impressive, running plus contact rates both in and out of the zone. The icing on the cake is his patient approach, drawing free passes at a decent clip, while running a chase rate below 20%. Good pitch recognition skills and impressive barrel control have helped him produce strong numbers against secondary offerings as well.

A potential blend of plus hit and power with a good approach, DeLauter boasts more offensive upside than any prospect in the Guardians system with multi-All Star upside.

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A plus runner, DeLauter looks the part in centerfield with good reads and comfortable routes. If he slows down, his plus arm would play well in either corner where he could be a plus defender, but he has the ability to stick in center.


Having only played a total of 100 collegiate games including his time on the Cape prior to his pro debut in 2023, DeLauter has had a lot of layoff time and not a lot of at bats. Factor in that DeLauter’s limited collegiate at bats was mostly against weaker competition at James Madison University and it is even more impressive how he was able to demolish his way through High-A, Double-A and the Arizona Fall League.

Potential for a rare blend of hit and power paired with good speed and a chance to stick in center give DeLauter an exciting profile that could quickly make him one of the more exciting outfield prospects in baseball. There’s shades of Kyle Tucker here.

2. Kyle Manzardo – 1B – (Triple-A)

Height/Weight: 6’1″, 205 | Bat/Throw: L/R | 2nd Round (62), 2021 (TB) | ETA: 2024


Fantastic contact skills paired with better exit velocities than his home run output may indicate, Manzardo is a high-probability big league bat who is trying to raise his ceiling.


Manzardo starts with his hands relaxed on his shoulder, using a toe tap for timing. A smooth swing with great plate coverage, his bat lives in the zone and he seems to barrel everything. The blend of whippy bat speed while living in the zone for so long helps Manzardo get to all types of pitches, posting a contact rate of 79% in 2023.

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The left-handed hitter flashes plus power to his pull side and has worked to drive the ball with authority to all fields as he reached the upper levels. The effort to tap into more game power has made itself evident through a 2 mph jump in average exit velocity as well as similar gains in his 90th percentile exit velocity (104.5 mph).

Some tough batted ball luck and selling out for lift–he has the lowest ground ball rate of all qualified Triple-A hitters in 2023–may have negatively impacted his batting average, but he found more balance as the year progressed.

His fantastic feel to hit, great approach, and above average raw power already give Manzardo the floor of one of the safer bats in the Minor Leagues. Even with 20-25 home run power, he should be an above average regular, but there’s hope he can reach closer to 30 home runs at his peak with the progress he has made impact wise.


An average runner, Manzardo will not provide a ton of value with his legs or glove, but he should be an average defender or better at first base.


The way Manzardo controls his at-bats, as well as the barrel, is impressive to watch. How much power he taps into will ultimately determine his ceiling, but even above average game power should be enough for him to be solid big league bat because of his well-rounded offensive game. Manzardo is a high probability regular who can carry the offensive weight of first base even if he is closer to 20 home runs than 30.

3. Ralphy Velazquez – 1B – (Low-A)

Height/Weight: 6’2″, 235 | Bat/Throw: L/R | 1st Round (23), 2023 (CLE) | ETA: 2027

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A big left-handed slugger, Velazquez has already made the move to first base from catcher where he has looked like one of the more impressive young hitters at the lower levels.


Starting crouched with a wide base and the bat rested on his shoulder, Velazquez features a simple load, coiling inwards as he pulls his hands backwards to his slot. The stretch and his powerful lower half help him create plenty of torque, already boasting plus power to the pull side.

Being so rotational can sometimes take Velazquez off of pitches on the outer third, but it appears to be more of a matter of an aggressive intention to pull something hard in the air rather than an inability to stay on such pitches. Considering he was just 18 years old at the start of the 2024 season and is already powerful enough to pull stuff on the outer half over the right field wall, it’s not going to be as important for Velazquez to have an “all fields” approach as others, especially when seeing a high number of fastballs at the lower levels.

He already uses the ground impressively to generate force, with a path that creates plenty of loft and a decent feel for the barrel. Velazquez can get a bit aggressive, especially with heaters, but he has demonstrated the ability to recognize spin and should grow into at least average plate discipline. There’s enough power for 30+ homers.


Initially drafted as a catcher, the Guardians opted to move Velazquez to first base to allow him to focus on his development at the plate. He’s a decent athlete and should be able to hold down the position.


Already flashing big time impact and a solid feel to hit, Velazquez has the potential to be a middle of the order masher. The move to first base puts more pressure on his bat, but early returns indicate that should not be much of an issue.

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4. Jaison Chourio – OF – (Low-A)

Height/Weight: 6’1″, 170 | Bat/Throw: S/R | IFA: $1.2M – 2022 (CLE) | ETA: 2027


The younger brother of Brewers outfielder Jackson Chourio, Jaison is a switch-hitter with good contact skills and athleticism.


A switch hitter with a similar setup from both sides, Chourio starts slightly open with a hovering leg kick that gathers him into his backside. His athleticism is evident in the box, showcasing impressive adjustability and a good feel for the barrel. Already using his base well, Chourio is able to tap into a bit more impact than his slender frame may suggest. That said, he’s more likely to be a 10-15 home run threat with plenty of doubles.

Chourio is patient and sticks to his approach, helping him walk more than he has struck out at the lower levels. He is still working on recognizing breaking balls more consistently, but hedges that with the aforementioned adjustability, getting to tough pitches with B swings.

While his left-handed swing is a little more natural, the splits have been pretty consistent from both sides of the plate in Chourio’s professional career. It’s hit-over-power, but Chourio’s ability to draw walks and tap into at least gap-to-gap pop could make him a fun top of the order bat.


Despite being a plus runner, Chourio is a bit shaky in centerfield both from a reads and actions perspective. He likely projects best in a corner where his above average arm would play fine. Chourio has improved as a base stealer each season, looking like a potential 20-30 bag threat.

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Chourio’s feel to hit, approach and athleticism make him a higher floor prospect relative to his lower-level peers. The likelihood of moving off of centerfield puts more pressure on the bat, but there’s plenty of room to add strength on Chourio’s frame and he has already flashed some sneaky pop. He has the ingredients to be a top-of-the-order table setter who gets on base at a high clip.

5. Angel Genao – SS – (High-A)

Height/Weight: 6’0″, 170 | Bat/Throw: S/R | IFA: $1.1M – 2021 (CLE) | ETA: 2026


The prize of the Guradians’ 2021 IFA class, Genao immediately stood out with his polish at the plate and ability to pick it on the left side of the infield. He has tapped into a bit more impact in 2024.


A switch hitter, Genao starts slightly more crouched and open from the left side of the plate with his hands higher. He gets into a sizable leg kick from both sides with a big hand load, but has a good feel for his body and repeats his moves pretty well. As he faces more challenging pitching, he may benefit from toning down the operation, but the contact rates have been consistently strong through the lower levels. He has already flashed the ability to do so, sometimes simplifying to a toe tap with two strikes.

Power is unlikely to be a huge part of his game, but Genao offers a bit more impact than the other switch-hitting middle infield types in the Guardians org with an average exit velocity above 88 mph. He has more pop from the right side, with slightly higher exit velocities and lower ground ball rates while he makes more consistent contact from the left side.

Though he does not walk much, Genao makes good swing decisions overall and sticks to his approach, helping him perform better than most with two strikes. A well-rounded hitter, Genao has the ingredients to climb the Minor Leagues quickly.

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Comfortable actions, a good arm and solid instincts give Genao a good chance at sticking on the left side of the infield. His range is fringy for shortstop, though the aforementioned instincts and arm strength help compensate. It took time for Genao to regain his quickness after a meniscus tear during 2023 Spring Training, but he is now moving like an above average runner, who could steal 20 bags annually.


The most intriguing of the Guardians middle-infield prospects, Genao has made a big leap in 2024 thanks to health and simply settling into pro baseball. His feel for the game on both sides of the ball, likelihood of sticking on the left side of the infield and advanced ability to swing it from both sides make Genao a high-probability big leaguer who could grow into an above average regular.

6. Angel Martinez – UTIL – (MLB)

Height/Weight: 6’0″, 200 | Bat/Throw: S/R | IFA: $500K – 2018 (CLE) | ETA: 2024


Martinez broke out in 2022 before slowing down at the upper levels in 2023. He turned heads from the start of 2024, looking far more comfortable at the plate while moving all over the diamond.


A switch hitter with a nearly-identical setup from both sides, Martinez starts open and upright while slightly stacked on his back leg. Martinez’s operation in the box is simple, using a toe-tap for timing as he sinks into his back side with minimal hand movement.

Repeatable moves and a compact stroke help Martinez make plenty of contact and he has added enough strength to tap into fringy power. More geared for line drives path wise, Martinez elevates enough to tap into 10-15 home runs with room for a bit more in the right hitter’s environment.

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What of the most impressive leaps for Martinez has been his plate discipline, improving from an aggressive hitter who ran a chase rate around 30%. He will need to show it over a larger sample, but there’s a tangible improvement in his ability to recognize spin. Nothing jumps out with Martinez’s offensive profile, but he has shored up his deficiencies while making as much contact as ever.


Though just an average runner, Martinez moves his feet well in the field, capable of playing solid defense on the left side of the infield, aided by his plus arm. The Guardians have even given Martinez some run in centerfield where he could develop into a passable defender as well.

Ultimately, he projects best at third base or second base, where he is an above average glove. His ability to hold his own at premium positions only help his super-utility case. Martinez is good for around 10-12 stolen bases each year.


Like so many prospects in the Guardians system, Martinez compensates for his limited upside with a good feel to hit from both sides of the plate and positional versatility. The fact that he can play a decent shortstop and strong third base elevates him over some of his org mates and his progress at the plate has him tracking like a potential super-utility regular.

7. Juan Brito – 2B – (Triple-A)

Height/Weight: 5’11”, 200 | Bat/Throw: S/R | IFA: $60K – 2019 (COL) | ETA: 2025


A diamond in the rough as a $60K IFA signing, Brito immediately impressed with his feel to hit from both sides of the plate. It’s unsurprising that the Guardians identified him in the Nolan Jones swap.

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A switch hitter who starts upright with his hands out in front of him, Brito deploys a different load from each side of the plate, more dramatically sinking into his back side as a lefty. He gets to his spot early, but as he gets into his back hip, his torso bends over home plate which can make him feel crowded with struggles turning hard stuff around on the inner half.

His exit velocities are right on the cusp of average and he does a good job of creating loft to all fields to tap into fringy power. Historically far more productive from the left side, Brito adjusted his setup and load slightly from the right side and has enjoyed much better results in 2024.

Running a chase rate around 20% with good overall swing decisions, Brito has consistently walked at a high clip at each stop and nearly as much as he has struck out as a pro. There’s enough juice for around 15 homers and plenty of extra base hits to both gaps.


Though limited range wise, Brito has soft hands and an average arm. He projects best second base, but has displayed the versatility to plug in at third base, first base and even the outfield some. Brito is a fringy runner who will likely mix in a handful of bags at best.


Traded by the Rockies for Nolan Jones ahead of the 2023 season, Brito fits the bill of what the Guardians typically target in prospects. Walking nearly as much as he has struck out as a pro, Brito is a high probability MLB piece with enough offensive upside and versatility to keep himself in the lineup.

8. Alex Clemmey – LHP – (Low-A)

Height/Weight: 6’6″, 210 | Bat/Throw: L/L | 2nd Round (58), 2023 (CLE) | ETA: 2027

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Electric stuff from the left side of a 6-foot-6 frame earned Clemmey a $2.3 million payday to sign him away from a Vanderbilt commitment. Though very raw, Clemmey’s stuff has been as advertised in pro ball.


A three pitch mix that is mostly dominated by his fastball and slider, Clemmey’s changeup is a work in progress as well. His fastball sits in the mid 90s, topping at 97 mph. It has not performed quite as well as evaluators had anticipated in the early days of his professional career due a mixture of inconsistent command and characteristics.

Standing at 6-foot-6, his release point is higher than what would be expected from his high three-quarters angle and with only 13 inches of vertical movement, the heater stays on a fairly comfortable plane for hitters. It’s worth wondering if a two-seamer would be worth trying to add to the equation for Clemmey.

His best pitch is his wipeout slider at 83-85 mph. Given how long Clemmey stays closed before delivering the pitch, the slider can be really difficult for hitters to pick up out of his hand and the horizontal movement plays up from his release point. He will throw some with more true sweep while others will have some vertical depth as well, making it an effective pitch to both lefties and righties.

Rounding out the arsenal is a firm changeup in the upper 80s that flashes some arm side run. Given the aforementioned components of his release, the pitch could perform better than the metrics would imply to righties given how late they see the baseball. It could ultimately play as an average pitch as he gains feel for it.


There’s a fair amount of effort in Clemmey’s delivery, which paired with his below average command, implies reliever risk. On the positive side, Clemmey turns 19 years old at the All Star break and is relatively advanced for a 6-foo-6 cold weather prep southpaw. If he can find more consistency with his fastball and overall command, there’s a chance for a middle-rotation arm. If not, Clemmey could be a high-leverage reliever reminiscent of Tanner Scott.

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9. Welbyn Francisca – SS – (CPX)

Height/Weight: 5’9″, 170 | Bat/Throw: S/R | IFA: $1.3M – 2023 (CLE) | ETA: 2028


A prototypical Guardians prospect, Francisca boasts impressive bat to ball skills from both sides of the plate and a solid glove up the middle, earning him a $1.3 million pay day in the 2023 IFA period.


Slightly different setups from each side of the plate, Francisca starts crouched from the left side and open. His pre-swing moves are very similar, utilizing a rhythmic leg kick from both sides of the plate. His barrel accuracy and knack for hitting immediately stood out from both sides of the plate upon entering pro ball, making it to the Arizona Complex League prior to his 18th birthday.

Small in stature, Francisca is capped power wise, but does generate above average bat speed. His path is flatter, resulting in more ground balls, though that should improve as he cleans up his mechanics a bit.

Already possessing a solid approach, Francisca has walked more than he has struck between the DSL and Complex, with an ability to recognize spin that is ahead of his peers. There’s potentially a scrappy, low strikeout, high contact profile here with enough bat speed to produce plenty of doubles.


A good athlete with above average wheels, Francisca is ahead of his years in the field, reading hops well with soft hands and an above average arm. He’s still getting comfortable throwing from different angles and on the run, but that should come with reps. He has the chops to stick at short, though a move to second base isn’t out of the question. While he may not be a high volume base stealer, he is quick enough to be a factor on the base paths.

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Despite being far off, Francisca is cut from a similar cloth to many of the prospects who the Guardians have moved through the Minor Leagues quickly. Relatively speaking, the floor is higher than most teenage middle-infielders, though it’s worth wondering how much upside there is given his frame and lack of a true plus tool. If he hits enough, there’s a table-setting middle-infield type to dream on.

10. Jhonkensy Noel – 1B/OF – (MLB)

Height/Weight: 6’3″, 260 | Bat/Throw: R/R | IFA: $100K – 2017 (CLE) | ETA: 2024


Massive power and a better feel to hit than he gets credit for Noel has been held back some by an ultra-aggressive approach and a 1B/DH profile.


Starting extremely stacked on his back side while up on the ball of his front foot, Noel made the adjustment during the 2024 season to get closer to his launch position and control his body better. Since the adjustment, Noel has made more contact and cut down on his borderline egregious chase rate.

A physical hitter, Noel possesses some of the best raw power in the Minor Leagues with a 90th percentile exit velocity of 109 mph and max of 118 mph. Noel has been able to translate the exit velocities into homers launching 112 in his 518 Minor League games prior to his MLB debut.

Noel’s aggressive nature often undermines what is actually a decent feel to hit, chasing at roughly a 40% clip for much of his professional career. The prolonged high chase–particularly against breaking balls–is concerning as it could be more of a pitch recognition issue rather than a lack of discipline. There’s been stretches where Noel cuts the chase down to the 30% range and really hits, just to start expanding again later.

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Compared to 2023, Noel looked far improved against non-fastballs through the first half of the 2024 season, posting an OPS above .900 in his 65 games prior to his call up. There’s big time power and enough bat to ball to be a massive power threat, with the large caveat being that his poor swing decisions do not continue to restrict him.


A good athlete for his size and physical build, Noel turns in average run times and moves his feet pretty well at first base where he can be an average defender. He has seen plenty of action in the outfield as a pro, but is below average out there.


Noel is a fun power bat who is likely to be streaky. With his 70 grade power and average contact skills there’s shades of Franmil Reyes, meaning when it is all clicking there’s 30+ home runs in there, but things can fall apart and get ugly rather quickly, sometimes with no solution in sight.

While the fact that he can fend off the DH label with passable defense at first base and the ability to plug in the outfield in a major pinch helps, Noel will have to mash to be an everyday player. He’s capable of doing so, but with his track record of mashing lefties in particular, it seems like the most realistic outcome is a power platoon bat.

11. Jose Tena – SS – (MLB)

Height/Weight: 5’11”, 195 | Bat/Throw: L/R | IFA: $400K – 2017 (CLE) | ETA: 2024


Tena has tapped into much more power while demonstrating the ability to play a solid shortstop and move around the diamond, elevating his stock. He made some similar adjustments to Jhonkensy Noel with his setup, starting far more stacked on his back side with his hands lower. His average exit velocity has jumped by a tick with his 90th percentile exit velocity up nearly 4 mph from 2023.

His plus arm plays well on the left side of the infield and he has strong instincts, seemingly always making the heads up play. He has the tendency to sit back and rely on his plus arm at times and will field balls off to the side far from his throwing arm which can sometimes complicate the transfer, but he should be at least an average big league shortstop as he cleans up his actions a bit more.

While he’s aggressive with some whiff concerns, he has consistently posted strong numbers left on left and the uptick in power takes some pressure off of the fringy hit tool. Tena is a quality utility option who can plug in at shortstop.

12. George Valera – OF – (Triple-A)

Height/Weight: 6’0″, 195 | Bat/Throw: L/R | IFA: $1.3M – 2017 (CLE) | ETA: 2024


A powerful left-handed hitter with a sweet swing, Valera has struggled to match his monstrous 2021 season at High-A due to a combination of injuries and whiff issues. The injuries really caught up to Valera in 2023, undergoing surgery for a broken hamate bone in his hand before dealing with a hamstring issue.

Valera’s swing has a lot of moving parts, which can disrupt his timing, but when he connects he is capable of producing tape-measure shots to all fields. He hedges the below average hit tool with plus plate discipline, consistently walking at a high clip and leveraging his advantage counts well. Left-on-left matchups have blown Valera up at the higher levels, making a bulk platoon role more likely. He’s a solid defender in either corner.

13. Joey Cantillo – LHP – (Triple-A)

Height/Weight: 6’4″, 225 | Bat/Throw: L/L | 16th Round (468), 2017 (CLE) | ETA: 2024


Injuries have halted Cantillo’s strong momentum multiple times in his professional career, striking out 32% of hitters since being drafted in 2017 while only throwing 361 2/3 innings entering the 2024 season. His double-plus changeup at around 80 mph is his best pitch, holding opponents to a .130 batting average in his Minor League career with an OPS hardly over .400.

His 92-94 mph fastball will get on hitters slightly quicker than expected thanks to Cantillo’s above average extension. His short slider in the mid 80s often plays like an average pitch, though he will have the tendency to hang it. He will also mix in a taste-breaking curveball in the upper 70s. Cantillo’s command has fluctuated over the years, which could be attributed to his injuries.

That said, he has thrown strikes at a below average clip at the upper levels. Pair that with his injury history and there may be more of a swingman/reliever profile here.

14. Parker Messick – LHP – (High-A)

Height/Weight: 6’0″, 225 | Bat/Throw: L/L | 2nd Round (54), 2022 (CLE) | ETA: 2025


A pitchability southpaw with a maxed out frame, Messick compensates for his lack of projection with an advanced feel to throw and sneaky pitch characteristics. The fastball has ticked up since being drafted from FSU, sitting at 92-93 mph with above average carry from a 5.5 foot release height.

Messick’s best pitch is his above average changeup, averaging more than 14 inches of horizontal and pairing well off of his fastball from his release point. He has picked up well-above average whiff and chase numbers on the pitch as a pro, while holding hitters well under the Mendoza line. He will mix in a slider that flashes average and a strike stealing curveball. Above average command and intangibles could slot Messick into the back of a rotation.

15. C.J. Kayfus – 1B – (Double-A)

Height/Weight: 6’0″, 195 | Bat/Throw: L/L | 3rd Round (93) – 2023 (CLE) | ETA: 2025


Kayfus improved his draft stock in his junior season with a solid showing on the Cape and an uptick in power at the University of Miami. Adding some juice to his hit-first profile enticed the Guardians enough to snag Kayfus in the third round of the 2023 draft.

After the ink dried, Kayfus enjoyed a fantastic 17 game cameo in Low-A, carrying the momentum into 2024 where he quickly ripped through High-A and kept things rolling into Double-A. Nothing jumps off of the page, but Kayfus clearly has a knack for hitting that is hard to ignore. Now that 20 home runs is not totally a reach for the first baseman, Kayfus has a shot to carve out an everyday role if he can keep hitting.

A smooth strike from the left-side, he produces average exit velocities, but generates good carry. Handling lefties well helps his case and he has seen some action in the outfield, though it may be a reach that he can be viable out there.

Other Names to Watch

Franco Aleman – RHP – (Triple-A): The newly-turned 24-year old was a starter at the JUCO level before transferring to the University of Florida for his draft year, where he was an under-performing swingman. The Guardians took him in the 10th round in 2021, and he struggled mightily in his first full pro season in Low-A in 2022. However, Aleman ticked up after a full-time move to the bullpen going into the 2023 season, resulting in an ERA in the low-to-mid 3.00’s with a K-Rate at 37% over his last 68.1 MiLB IP. His high-carry heater can run up to 101 MPH, while a swing-and-miss slider could make him a high-leverage bullpen arm.

Robert Arias – OF – (DSL): Arias was one of the prized signings of the 2024 IFA cycle, putting pen to paper with Cleveland for $1.9 million in January. The 17-year-old outfielder has performed exceptionally well in the DSL thus far, slashing .298/.404/.468 with 15 stolen bases and just four punch outs in 13 games. There’s an incredibly long way to go, but Arias has the makings of a center field speedster with solid bat-to-ball skills.

Daniel Espino – RHP – (TBD): We just have no idea what to expect from Espino whenever he does make his return to game action in the minor leagues. Four starts into 2022, we were looking at Espino as arguably the top pitching prospect in all of baseball. Several shoulder surgeries later to repair a capsule and his rotator cuff, and we have no clue how his then-80-grade fastball will play after a three year layoff. We just want to see Espino toe a professional rubber again.

Jackson Humphries – LHP – (Low-A): Humphries was taken in the 8th round in 2022 out of high school in North Carolina, prying him away from a commitment to Mid Major power Campbell. His first 27 MiLB starts haven’t resulted in the greatest of numbers, logging a 5.32 ERA, but Humphries has punched out 114 in his first 94.2 IP, and opponents are hitting an adequate .234 against him. He features a heavy heater in the mid 90s and flirts with a true four-pitch mix, so the 19-year-old southpaw is certainly a project worth Cleveland’s while.

Alex Mooney – SS/3B – (High-A): A 7th round pick out of Duke last year by Cleveland, Mooney got off to a rip-roaring start in 2024 after struggling mightily during his first taste of pro ball last season. Mooney offers an exciting blend of power and speed, clubbing 9 HR and swiping 27 bases on 32 tries through his first 59 games in Lake County. He’s splitting his time between both positions on the left side of the infield, which likely pushes him to third base long-term, but Mooney could prove to be a steal in the middle rounds of the ’23 draft.

Doug Nikhazy – LHP – (Double-A): Nikhazy was an extremely advanced arm for Ole Miss during his college days, and the Guardians took the pitchability lefty in the second round of the 2021 MLB Draft and immediately shut him down. It’s been a seesaw start to his MiLB career, logging an ERA at 3.96 in 2022 before ballooning just shy of 5.00 with Akron last year. Repeating Double-A to open 2024, Nikhazy has thrown to a 3.17 ERA in 48.1 IP, holding opponents to a .186 BAA. A shorter pitcher that comes from an extremely over-the-top arm slot, Nikhazy may be just weird enough to pitch his way to the back of a big league rotation.

Johnathan Rodriguez – OF – (Triple-A): While Rodriguez’s first 13 games at the big league level haven’t gone the way that many had hoped in Cleveland, the 24-year-old has produced level-by-level, bringing back fond memories of Oscar Gonzalez. In ’22, Rodriguez hit .269 with 26 home runs. In ’23, Rodriguez hit .286 with 29 home runs. And so far this year in 54 Triple-A games, Rodriguez has hit .307 with 12 home runs. Simply put: consistent offensive production has him breaking into the big leagues.

Andrew Walters – RHP – (Triple-A): One of the most dominant college relievers in recent memory, Walters threw to a 1.41 ERA and 170 strikeouts in 102 innings at the University of Miami before Cleveland selected him 62nd overall last year. He’s got a simple two-pitch mix, going to a mid 90s heater the majority of the time with a taste-breaking slider. Overreliance on the fastball could be costing him in the minor leagues right now, but he has punched out 49 hitters in 29.1 IP and is holding opponents to a .206 BAA. The Guardians took a bullpen arm to fast-track him, and he could very well debut just one year after he was selected.

Kahlil Watson – MIF – (Double-A): The 16th overall pick of the Marlins in 2021, Watson was unceremoniously traded to Cleveland in the Josh Bell deal at the 2023 deadline. While his numbers weren’t necessarily anything to write home about, he fell out of the Marlins’ future plans because of his makeup concerns, which he hopefully matures out of. Watson may not be a shortstop that will hit for much average, but he’s shown the capability of hitting the ball hard and playing quite solid defense.

Matt Wilkinson – LHP – (High-A): “Tugboat” has captured the hearts of Guardians fans and prospect heads alike, logging a 1.96 ERA with an absurd 106/15 K/BB ratio in his first 64.1 MiLB IP. The 21-year-old from Vancouver was the Guardians 10th round pick last year out of Central Arizona Junior College, making him arguably the breakout of the 2024 Minor League Baseball season. He may only be running his fastball up to 90 MPH, but there’s something magical about this Tugboat right now.