5 Cleveland Guardians pitching prospects who could make a significant impact in 2023
21-year-old righty Daniel Espino is Cleveland’s #1 ranked prospect, and the #15 overall prospect in baseball. He has the highest long-term upside of anyone on this list but may not be ready to help the Guardians until the second half of 2023. He seemed like he was on the fast-track to major-league stardom until a knee injury last May cost him much of the 2022 season. This interruption in his development has certainly delayed his arrival in Cleveland, but with a return to health he could contribute as a starter or a bullpen weapon late next season.
Espino was Cleveland’s first-round draft pick in 2019, and projects as a potential front-line starter. He regularly pitches with his fastball in the mid-90s and reaches 101 mph with a curveball and changeup that all profile as quality major-league offerings. He has progressed quickly, showing improved command, which the Guardians always value.
The interruption in his progress last season will mean that the Guardians will need to watch his innings carefully and consider how to best utilize him once he does reach the big-league level. He likely will not have as significant an impact at the major-league level as other rookies in 2023, but his combination of prospect status and upside should have him on everyone’s radar this offseason.