Every year there are a number of individuals who capture the attention of the fans during spring training, and then the regular season begins and we never hear from them again. In that same light, it's important to remember that spring training can't always be trusted, and fans should take results with a grain of salt. One day pitchers may be throwing only one specific pitch, while the hitters may be trying to take everything to the opposite field. But every once in a while, it's beneficial to take note.
For the purposes of this exercise, the likes of José Ramírez and Shane Bieber won't be appearing on this list (you already know those guys are good). But instead, I'll be talking about some lesser-known prospects who are having some early success in spring training.
I cannot emphasize the following enough: It's possible that none of these guys break the big-league roster, let alone go on to have a sustainable career. The best path for them may just be as a career depth piece. Another stipulation to the entrants on this list is that they must be facing, on average, talent that is at least about Double-A (Baseball Reference has a convenient little tool for this).
It's a slow period of time and we don't have much to talk about. So without further ado, here are some lesser-known names making noise for the Guardians this spring.
When looking to the future (say 2-3 years down the road) there is one position that gives me pause - first base. The Guardians have it locked up short-term, but there are few prospects in the organization outside of Jhonkensy Noel (and even he isn't a slam dunk) who may take up that mantle.
But there is another name fans should start paying attention to: Micah Pries. Pries is a bit on the older side, having just turned 25, but he possesses prototypical height that you want at the position. Through eight games this spring, he's second on the team in both home runs (2) and RBI (5), and he sports a slash line of .333/.412/1.000. Again, this sample size is small, only 15 at-bats. Being a 2019 draft pick certainly hurts and Pries has only had two full seasons in the minors (2021 and 2022) but in each he has shown an ability to hit for a respectable average and showcase some pop.
Utility extraordinaire David Fry could see his stock rise with Bo Naylor and Meibrys Viloria leaving for the WBC. Fry is in the midst of one of the only position battles this spring, which is backup catcher. He's seen time at every position, outside of pitcher, during his minor-league career and you know Tito is salivating to get him on the roster because of that.
Fry is 27 years old, but who cares, he's likely at most a bench guy and can serve in that role for a number of years. In seven spring training games, Fry has a home run and four RBI while slashing .300/.429/.700. With Naylor likely getting some additional time in Columbus to start the season, Fry could conceivably get the Opening Day roster nod; granted, some roster maneuvering would be required as he is not currently on the 40-man roster.
Former prospect Luis Oviedo, who the club lost back in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft, has found his way back to the club that signed him as an international free agent in 2015. Coming up through the system, Oviedo had been ranked as high as the eighth-best prospect in the organization back in 2019. He's still only 23 years old, and hopefully the Pirates didn't ruin him, because he could still project as an interesting bullpen arm.
Though his career walks have been an issue, as another power arm out of the pen, he's at least worth following. Thus far he has appeared in three games, going 2.2 innings and owning a very nice 13.5 strikeouts per nine. But again, allowing a few walks during those appearance has his WHIP nearing two. There seem to be some similarities between him and invitee Touki Toussaint; getting either one "right" would be a nice goal for the pitching staff this spring.
Another potential pen arm seeing a good start to the spring is Hunter Gaddis. He's appeared in two games, going 4.1 innings and striking out six in that span. At 12.5 strikeouts per nine and a 0.92 WHIP, it makes Gaddis a possible multi-inning relief option. He doesn't posses overpowering stuff, but could he become a replacement of sorts for the recently departed Bryan Shaw? Gaddis has also been passed up by a number of other pitchers in the starting rotation, so a move to the pen may be more of a necessity than anything else.
Again, each of these players may not even break the roster this season, or could completely fall apart the rest of spring training. But injuries are a thing and teams need to rely on depth over the course of the season. Finding "diamonds in the rough" is how you save a season from going completely off the rails, and who knows, maybe one of these four will fit that bill this season.