FanGraphs recently unveiled its 2022 list of the top 100 prospects in baseball, and the Cleveland Guardians are well-represented – with a few surprises thrown in as well.
This particular list is compiled based on one’s Future Value, which is the way FanGraphs attempts to distill all of the available scouting information on a particular player using the typical 20-80 rating scale.
Cleveland Guardians Prospects in the FanGraphs Top 100
The Guardians find themselves with four players in the top 100, all with Future Value scores of 50: infielder Brayan Rocchio (ranked #43), pitcher Daniel Espino (#54), outfielder Steven Kwan (#57), and infielder Gabriel Arias (#92).
For reference’s sake, the Guardians had two players in the top 100 in 2019, three in 2020, and six in 2021.
This list is surprising for a couple reasons. For one thing, this only continues to solidify Steven Kwan’s ascent up the ladder in terms of how people view him as a prospect. It’s becoming clear that people around baseball are beginning to see Kwan as a someone who should be able to contribute at the major-league level, potentially as early as 2022.
This list is also surprising in that some notable names were left out of the top 100, including former top prospect Nolan Jones (#101), outfielder George Valera (#103), and second baseman Tyler Freeman (#109). Plenty of people on social media were baffled particularly by the exclusion of Valera on the list, though it should be noted that all three of these players do still carry Future Value grades of 50.
Valera spent his 2021 season between High-A Lake County and Double-A Akron, hitting a combined .260/.405/.505 with 19 home runs, 65 RBIs, and 11 stolen bases. Even at just 21 years old, Valera maintained a 104 wRC+ in Akron and will no doubt start the 2022 season there. Expectations are especially high for Valera among Guardians fans, especially as he occasionally draws comparisons to names like Manny Ramirez.
Even if the highest-ranked player is Rocchio at #43, the Guardians continue to build up a minor-league system full of solid hitters, if not budding superstars – though, of course, no one ever truly knows how that will play out. Cleveland has made it a point to draft and develop hitters who project to hit for a higher average at the major-league level, potentially at the expense of gaudy power numbers.
The system isn’t loaded with high-profile, superstar prospects, but the Guardians will certainly take a crop of guys who can fill out a lineup and make a difference in the majors for years to come.