While the pain of making huge mistakes on the evaluations of players like Will Benson, Nolan Jones, and Junior Caminero will likely haunt the Cleveland Guardians for years to come, it looks like the team nailed their 2022 first-round pick in Chase DeLauter.
DeLauter, 22, is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League and showcasing why he was a first-round selection despite an injury history. Through the first week of the AFL season, DeLauter led the league in RBIs (11) and got himself ranked among the top ten AFL prospects, according to Baseball America.
Who Is Cleveland Guardians Prospect Chase DeLauter?
He might not be a household name in Cleveland just yet, but DeLauter's time is certainly coming - possibly even in 2024. After starting this season late due to a fractured foot, DeLauter was scorching hot between High-A Lake County and Double-A Akron. In total, DeLauter's line looked like this: .355/.417/.528 with five home runs, 22 doubles, 39 RBI, and six stolen bases in 242 plate appearances. He didn't look overmatched when he got to Akron, either, hitting .364 in 22 at-bats.
With the way teams are promoting young players these days - even straight from Double-A - it's very possible DeLauter could be up in Cleveland sooner than later to fix the Guardians' woeful outfield situation.
Keep in mind as well that this was DeLauter's first taste of professional pitching. If he gets off to a hot start at Double-A next season, the Guardians really shouldn't mess around. In true Cleveland fashion, the team could certainly opt to give DeLauter a little more seasoning in the minors just because he's had so few at-bats, including none at Triple-A to this point.
But take a look at a guy like Nolan Schanuel. The Angels drafted him in the first round (11th overall) of this year's draft and promoted him right from Double-A. With his elite plate approach and bat skills, Schanuel acclimated well to the majors - and a highly dysfunctional major-league team - hitting .275/.402/.330 in 132 plate appearances.
The same possibilities sit out there for DeLauter if the Guardians are willing to take that chance. At this point, what does Cleveland really have to lose, anyway? Aside from Steven Kwan, the outfield is a complete and utter disaster offensively, no matter how much anyone tries to sugarcoat things. DeLauter could be exactly what this team needs as it tries to become a contender once again.
The Arizona Fall League is a small sample size, but DeLauter is quickly becoming the top Guardians prospect to watch for 2024.