If the Cleveland Guardians are going to contend for the AL Central in 2024, they will once again have to rely on an influx of young talent. The team will be asking plenty of rookies to once again learn on the fly, and if things are to go well, here are some of the players that could shine.
Five Prospects Who Will Make a Difference for the Cleveland Guardians in 2024
It's rare for a starting rotation to emerge from a season unscathed. Luckily for the Guardians, the pitching development pipelie remains as strong as ever, and Joey Cantillo is likely the next name to emerge from the list should anyone miss time.
Cantillo, 24, ascended to Triple-A Columbus in 2023, pitching in 20 games (18 starts) to a 4.64 ERA, with 111 strikeouts in 95 innings (Cantillo owns a 2.94 ERA across his six seasons of minor-league ball). The left-hander has gone from being a soft-tosser to really bringing the heat, with a fastball that now sits in the low-to-mid 90s, complemented by a curveball, cutter, and changeup - the full arsenal. Cantillo should settle in as a middle-of-the-rotation arm, bringing more depth to Cleveland's one true area of strength.
By this point, much has been written about Kyle Manzardo, the first baseman acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in the Aaron Civale deal last summer. It doesn't seem all that likely he breaks camp with the team, but it won't be long before the 23-year-old is up in Cleveland.
Manzardo is routinely touted as one of the game's top first base prospects, especially after a promising Fall League performance in which he hit .272/.340/.565 with six home runs, seven doubles, and 19 RBI in 103 plate appearances. He's also been known to hit for average, but scouts are starting to see a future in which Manzardo is a true middle-of-the-order thumper, too, something the Guardians desperately need.