Cleveland Guardians prospects: What Deyvison De Los Santos means for the rest of the roster

Deyvison De Los Santos is a bit of a wild card for the Cleveland Guardians this spring. Where does he fit on the roster, and can the Guardians hold on to him all season?
Cleveland Guardians Photo Day
Cleveland Guardians Photo Day / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
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Many of the positions in the Cleveland Guardians lineup are all but decided. In many scenarios, it’s simply a matter of who’s going to platoon and at what positions. But shortstop is the one spot that’s most up in the air. Thanks to the Guardians stockpiling top-end talent that can play shortstop, the club is now in the middle of trying to figure out who goes where, and who maybe isn’t ready enough for that starting job. 

The ultimate decision could end up simply being what they did last year: a hodgepodge of budding talent trying their hand at the spot through various points in the season. It’ll be interesting to see how new manager Stephen Vogt handles the crowded middle infield and who he opts to give preference to. Further complicating the situation is the addition of Deyvison De Los Santos, a Rule 5 draft pick from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the offseason that, shockingly, also plays in the infield. 

Though he’s mainly spent time at third base, that position has been locked up for years by José Ramírez, and the best player on Cleveland’s roster isn’t going anywhere. So, what’s the plan for De Los Santos, who’s just 20 years old, in his first attempt at making a major-league club? This year will mark his third-straight stint in major-league spring training, and Vogt has already said that de Los Santos will play all three outfield positions and throughout the infield. 

Remember, Rule 5 selections must make the selecting team's Opening Day 26-man roster, or they’ll be placed on waivers with the possibility to be returned to their original organization. If Cleveland doesn’t place him on the Opening Day roster, it’s all but a certainty that he’ll get snatched up by another team. And with the young guy having so much potential, it would be surprising if the Guardians let him walk. 

Though De Los Santos has a 26% strikeout rate through three seasons in the minors, he raked in Double-A after a two-week stint on the Development List last year, a period where he worked through the holes in his mechanics. He also helped the club win the Double-A Championship, slashing .400/.400/.720/1.120 in six postseason games with Amarillo, adding three doubles, a triple, a home run and six RBI. It’s clear the guy can hit in the minor leagues, but can he hit at the big-league level at just 20 years old? 

His addition to the roster likely means that some of Tyler Freeman, Brayan Rocchio, Gabriel Arias or Jose Tena won’t be starting in Cleveland. Tena’s limited action in the big leagues takes him out of the equation for the 26th spot, while Rocchio’s up-and-down 2023 campaign means I expect him to begin in Triple-A Columbus. Arias is so bad against left-handed pitching that I don’t know if he has any of an upper hand over the previously mentioned guys unless he shows an extreme level of improvement. 

If they want De Los Santos to be a fifth outfielder, that could mean Will Brennen gets pushed to Columbus to work on his swing or they opt against having David Fry as the third catcher. De Los Santos is certainly someone to closely watch in spring training, but where he plays in the field throughout the next two months will maybe mean more for the construction of the roster than what he does at the plate.  

He’s such an unproven commodity but has so much potential that it throws a wrench into Cleveland’s apparent buffet-style approach to playing their top middle-infield prospects.