Left-hander Joey Cantillo was added to the Guardians’ 40-man roster on November 15 to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. Originally drafted in the 16th round of the 2017 draft by San Diego, Cantillo was acquired by Cleveland as part of the Mike Clevinger trade in August of 2020.
Cantillo’s development has been interrupted multiple times, having missed all of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic before missing much of 2021 due to an oblique injury. He did return and throw 60.2 innings in Double-A this year with a 1.93 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 14 games (13 starts).
Still just 22 years old, Cantillo has a bright future despite the setbacks that he has faced. He pitches with a deceptive delivery and a three-pitch mix including a nasty changeup, which is by far his best pitch, a fastball that has improved with increased velocity – now pitching in the low-to-mid 90s - and a curveball which projects as a quality offering.
The interruptions in his development will put the Guardians in a tough spot this season. Cantillo could have a future as a quality back-end starter but will quickly exceed his career high in innings pitched if he remains as a starter. He could have a more immediate impact with the Guardians as a high-strikeout relief option, who could be used as a multi-inning weapon. Whether they choose to continue to develop Cantillo as a starter or convert him to a reliever could determine how much of an impact he has this season.