Cleveland Guardians select OF Chase DeLauter with 16th overall pick in MLB Draft

CLEVELAND, OHIO - JULY 15: An official Major League baseball sits next to the infield prior to the game between the Cleveland Guardians and the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field on July 15, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - JULY 15: An official Major League baseball sits next to the infield prior to the game between the Cleveland Guardians and the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field on July 15, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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Get to know 2022 Cleveland Guardians first-round pick Chase DeLauter, who was taken 16th overall.

With the 16th overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft, the Cleveland Guardians made the stunning choice to finally not take a pitcher after selecting 19 of them in 2021, opting instead to choose an outfielder some have described as “the best hitter in the entire draft.”

That would be James Madison’s Chase DeLauter, 20, who is now the highest draft pick in school history, and according to Baseball America, has the potential to ultimately be the top player in the class.

Why Wasn’t DeLauter Taken Higher in the Draft?

Despite some gaudy numbers in the 2021 Cape Cod League, where he hit .298/.397/.589 with nine home runs, 21 walks and 18 strikeouts, and a solid career at James Madison – he hit .437 this past season – there were a few factors working against DeLauter in the draft.

First of all, there’s a bit of the small-school bias going on here; teams no doubt would have liked to see DeLauter face more stiff competition over his career. For that, everything about him was scrutinized just a little bit more. And in one tremendously small sample size of facing better competition in a season-opening series against Florida State, DeLauter struggled.

Another factor working against DeLauter was that he never played more than 26 games in a season. A broken left foot ended his 2022 season early, but he still managed the .437/.576/.828 slash line with eight home runs, 35 RBIs and more walks (28) than strikeouts (21).

So Why Did the Guardians Draft DeLauter?

No pick comes without its risks, but DeLauter has a ton of potential upside. Not only is he an outfielder who seems capable of playing anywhere, but he fits the mold of the hitters the Guardians organization is trying to develop. DeLauter has an excellent eye at the plate, though it remains to be seen how his long swing will translate at the higher levels.

That being said, MLB Pipeline believes DeLauter could project to being a middle-of-the-order bat manning a corner outfield spot in Cleveland.

If the Guardians’ new approach to developing hitters can work on DeLauter, who no doubt needs plenty of seasoning in the minors, they could very well have a future cornerstone-type player on their hands. Ceiling comparisons have included Kyle Tucker and Christian Yelich, with a potential floor of someone like Gregory Polanco.

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