Cleveland Guardians prospects: The case against having Chase DeLauter on the Opening Day roster

Chase DeLauter has had an excellent spring training thus far, but here is why the Cleveland Guardians would be smart to start him in Triple-A this seaosn.

Feb 26, 2024; Peoria, Arizona, USA;  Cleveland Guardians right fielder Chase DeLauter (6) hits a two
Feb 26, 2024; Peoria, Arizona, USA; Cleveland Guardians right fielder Chase DeLauter (6) hits a two / Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Top Cleveland Guardians prospect Chase DeLauter is doing just about everything possible to make his case for making the team's Opening Day roster.

It's hard to see why the team shouldn't open the year with him in the oufield; DeLauter is on fire this spring, hitting .474/.545/.842 with the two homers, a double, and four RBI in 19 at-bats. He also has three walks to three strikeouts, showcasing why he was taken in the first round by the Guardians in 2022.

Could Chase DeLauter Really Make the Opening Day Roster, Though?

Unfortunately, it's most likely not going to happen no matter how well DeLauter does this spring. We all know how this will go down, but let's brush aside the service time manipulation aspect of things for a second and think about it from a developmental standpoint.

It really does make sense to let DeLauter open the season in Triple-A. He's only had 28 plate appearances above Single-A, and his 2023 season - as electric as it was - did get off to a late start due to surgery on a fractured toe.

So, yes, he's had a very limited pro career to this point. And even though he's dominated at every stop so far - including an impressive run in the Arizona Fall League - it's worth ensuring DeLauter is ready for the big leagues after facing Triple-A pitchers on a regular basis. So far this spring, DeLauter has faced pitching that equates somewhere between Double-A and Triple-A talent (estimated wonderfully as always by Baseball Reference). Clearly, he's ready for the highest levels of the minor league.

If anything, this spring has just proved that DeLauter won't be down in Triple-A for long, and that's a win in itself. It was assumed he wouldn't make a meaningful contribution at the major-league level until 2025, but that timeline is obviously ready to be moved up. There's a very real chance DeLauter is up in Cleveland by the beginning of summer, mirroring the potential timeline of first base prospect Kyle Manzardo, his fellow AFL masher.

Barring some disastrous series of events, the Guardians are going to contend for the AL Central in 2024. If DeLauter and Manzardo are up in Cleveland by, say, June, that becomes even more of a possibility. Even if he starts the season in Triple-A, DeLauter's tremendous spring proves he's on the cusp of being major-league ready; an early debut in 2024 instead of the summer of 2025 is a huge boost to an offense in desperate need of help.

The Guardians will take it.