The Cleveland Guardians have consistently struggled with slugging power throughout the majority of the 2023-2024 season. However, the answer to those issues may be just down the road in their Single-A minor league locker room with the Lake County Captains. And that answer is outfielder Chase DeLauter.
"The 6-foot-4, 235-pound DeLauter offers a rare combination of size, athleticism, plate discipline and performance," said an MLB scout. "His bat speed, strength, and leverage combine to give him well above-average raw power to all parts of the ballpark, and he lets his power come naturally with an extremely disciplined approach."
DeLauter is ranked as the sixth-best prospect in the Guardians farm system after being taken by the organization in the first round of the 2022 MLB Draft. Coming out of James Madison University, he set expectations high ashe slashed a stellar .437/.576/.828 in his senior season to go alongside eight home runs and 35 RBIs.
However, the big knock to his game and the reason he was not seen until mid-season is due to his unfortunate injury history. Towards the tail end of his 2022 college season, he broke his left foot, marking a three-year career span of playing 26 games or less in a season.
When healthy though, Chase DeLauter is one of the most talented players in the Guardians organization.
On June 30, after a few weeks of rehabbing in the Arizona Complex League, he made his debut with the Captains. In his debut, he struggled going 0-3 at the plate, but that would be just a one-time occasion. Since that opening contest with the Captains, he has recorded a hit in every game.
As of today, he is currently sitting on a nine-game hitting streak to go with an incredible .545 batting average (18/33) over that span. Of those 18 hits, eight have been doubles, and one has been a home run. He has also contributed to nine RBIs.
In the fielding game, he has often played center field with his size and agility to get to the ball. However, some believe that his best fit would be in the right field, where his power and arm strength would fit the best. For the Guardians, that would be perfect.
Throughout the majority of this season, constant criticism has circulated about the lack of production from the outfield. Whether it was Oscar Gonzalez before he was sent down, Myles Straw's inability to find a consistent rhythm, or the lack of power from Will Brennan, the common theme resides with the Guardians' unable to find runs when they need them the most.
If the Guardians were to bring DeLauter up at some point in the next year, his contribution in the right field would be exactly what the team was looking for with Gonzalez. He would be able to provide solid fielding with incredible power and hitting strength. That would then free up the ability to move Will Brennan into his comfortable left-field position and move the Gold Glove-winning left fielder, Steven Kwan, into center field. This would ultimately send Myles Straw to the bench as the fourth outfielder, where the team would have the ability to trade him away.
DeLauter joining the major league roster would be perfect for the team as they look for hitting power in their outfield, however, it is prevelant that he needs just a bit more time to hone in that raw talent. His time will come soon enough, and when it does, the entire league will be put on notice as one of the Guardians' best prospects looks to cement his name as a player for opposing pitchers to fear.