5 Stars The Cleveland Guardians Had And Lost In The MLB Draft

The MLB Draft in an interesting process that allows players to be selected multiple times, never signing deals. Here are five players the Cleveland Guardians nearly had, but lost to the process.
Arizona Diamondbacks v Atlanta Braves
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1. Spencer Strider, 2017 MLB Draft

Spencer Strider
Arizona Diamondbacks v Atlanta Braves / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

The first name on this list is especially intriguing given the Cleveland Pitching Factory, Spencer Strider. The flame-thrower for the Atlanta Braves was nearly a member of Cleveland's organization but instead opted to go to Clemson, drastically improving his draft stock.

Born in Columbus, Ohio, there are pictures out there of Strider in a Cleveland jersey at Progressive Field as a fan, and that nearly became his professional reality. During the 2017 MLB Draft, Cleveland took a shot in the dark in the 35th round and drafted Strider out of Christian Academy of Knoxville in Tennessee. That far down in the process, Cleveland wasn't able to convince Strider to join the club, and he instead went to Clemson University.

Due to COVID, Strider only made 10 starts for Clemson, going 5-2 with a 4.71 ERA and 89 strikeouts over 63.0 innings of work. The shortened performance was enough to get drafted for a second time, this one being a much higher selection. Even with the shortened 2020 MLB Draft, Strider still went in the fourth round to the Atlanta Braves.

It was a quick climb for Strider, making his debut on Oct. 1, 2021. Now, the 25-year-old starter has an All-Star appearance under his belt and led the majors in 2023 in wins (20) and strikeouts (281). No doubt that Atlanta turns out pitchers pretty well too, but it's hard not to imagine what could have been had he signed with Cleveland in 2017.