Pitcher Peyton Battenfield should be the Cleveland Guardians’ next call-up
The Guardians will continue to call up plenty of prospects this season, and right-handed pitcher Peyton Battenfield should be next.
The most exciting part of a rebuild or retooling season has to be watching an organization’s most talented prospects don a major-league uniform. All that talk and whispers of potential comes to fruition. This season, the Cleveland Guardians have no shortage of top prospects barnstorming Progressive Field. It’s been like a rotating cast of dynamic hitters and fiery fielders overtaking the Guardians’ roster.
That parade should be a season-long affair, one that is all but destined to bring fan favorites such as the long-anticipated Nolan Jones and Tyler Freeman into the major-league fold. But who should be next? The answer is a little convoluted, given that most of the obvious choices within the organization are either still getting their beaks wet at a certain level or have yet to demonstrate their mastery of a certain promotion.
Enter Peyton Battenfield. The Guardians acquired the big righty from the Houston Astros in exchange for Jordan Luplow and DJ Johnson last season. Now, he ranks as Cleveland’s 19th prospect, settling in with the Columbus Clippers as a reliable starter with extremely commendable statistics.
On the surface, he’s gone 3-3 over 11 starts and 60 1/3 innings pitched (5.4 innings per start), struck out 40 and compiled an ERA of just 2.82. He holds a .228 batting average against and a miniscule WHIP of 1.17. But digging deeper – particularly with FanGraphs – it’s clear that Battenfield’s baseball career trajectory certainly won’t be trending downward anytime soon.
FanGraphs ranks his fastball and curveball at a 50 out of 80 and his changeup at a 45 out of 80. Solid stuff, nothing that’s going to blow someone away enough to become an organization’s top prospect, but someone nonetheless that should hold his own in MLB. His best pitch, according to FanGraphs, is his cutter, grading out at a 55. That’s solid stuff that, for the 24-year-old, could be built upon over the next few years.
He’s certainly stretched out enough to be a starter Cleveland can plug in and let fly, and he’s averaging 3.7 pitches per plate appearance in Triple-A. Can the young Guardians players behind him be depended on to field, without mistakes, someone who pitches to contact? That’s really the only short-term problem I see with promoting Battenfield, and you’re mistaken if you think pitching coach Carl Willis won’t fine-tune his arsenal to ensure he misses more bats.
The only issue with promoting Battenfield is that he’s not currently on the 40-man roster. In the flurry of prospects Cleveland added to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft, Battenfield, who isn’t eligible until the end of this season, saw himself left off for obvious reasons. It’s a minor issue, given some of the fringe major-league arms occupying the backend of the bullpen, but one Cleveland has to address if it wants to make this move.
Maybe his entrance to the 40-man and the major-league roster means the exit of Bryan Shaw or Anthony Gose. It’s a small price to pay for the promotion of a talented power arm like Battenfield.
Another factor that decides who gets the call-up is need. Cleveland’s hitters are set, more or less, and utility positions are currently filled out by newcomers like Richie Palacios. The Guardians, for all their success developing starters over the years, now need to fill out the final spots in their rotation, and dare I say cement it, moving forward. Battenfield isn’t a surefire bet to do anything like that just yet, but he should be the next man up if someone goes down.
On paper, Cleveland’s rotation is set, and at their best, it’s a dominant five starters. But Aaron Civale is working his way back from injury and Cal Quantrill and Zach Pleasac still have streaky spurts. Once a spot opens up, it’s time for the Guardians to fill it with Battenfield. Let’s see what the power pitcher can do in the majors, especially because Cleveland needs to know what they have before opting to place him on the 40-man roster over another prospect this offseason.