The Cleveland Guardians may look deeper into the minor league system

Jonathan Rodriguez has hitting power to offer the Guardians at the major league level
Cleveland Guardians, CLE
Cleveland Guardians, CLE / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

The Cleveland Guardians are in need of hitting power in the 2024 campaign. 

In 2023, the team’s overall batting average sat at .250, which ranked 14th in the MLB. When it came to hitting power, they ranked dead last in the league in home runs at 124. For a team that has a variety of young talent, this is where the Guardians need to dive into their farm system.

Johnathan Rodriguez may be the answer to the team’s hitting issues.

The 24-year-old has spent the majority of his time within the Guardians’ organization as a staple in the minor league systems. When he debuted with the Lynchburg Hillcats in 2021, he instantly rose onto the scene as a young, consistent batter for the team. He recorded a clean .314 batting average to go alongside 69 hits, 13 doubles, and five home runs in just 59 outings. Through those outings, he also stayed disciplined at the plate with just 54 strikeouts.

After seeing his potential, he would slowly make his way through the ranks of the minor league system. In the most recent 2023 campaign, he kept a consistent .280 batting average with the Triple-A Columbus Clippers. Even with the heightened skill level,his play was able to find 49 hits, 12 doubles, and 11 home runs, showcasing tremendous power at the plate. According to the MLB Pipeline, Rodriguez is ranked as the 17th-best prospect in the organization.

Other 24-year-olds in the system include Joey Cantillo, ranked 11th, and Cade Smith, ranked 25th. Smith, who just recently was called up to the major leagues for the upcoming season, will look to be a prominent rotational piece in the bullpen early in the season.

However, for an individual like Rodriguez, his time is surely coming soon to make his way up to the major leagues. With his level of hitting power, the right-fielder would provide much-needed relief to the lackluster outfielder group for the Guardians last year.

While Steven Kwan continues to be consistent, and Will Brennan begins to find his footing in his young career, if the team wants to be competing for a playoff berth, hitting has to be a priority.

At the worst, Rodriguez can be tested in the major leagues and dealt if he struggles. At best, he becomes a consistent home-run-threat for the major league roster alongside star Jose Ramirez. The Guardians need to be aware of the timetable remaining on him, at 24 years old, the pathway for Rodriguez to the major leagues is beginning to close.