Cleveland Guardians Top Fantasy Baseball Prospects

Cleveland Guardians top prospects for fantasy baseball

Lacking the financial flexibility that some other teams have, the Guardians rely heavily on home-grown talent. Pitching development has been a particular strength of the organization in recent years. From Carlos Carrasco to Shane Bieber, to the next wave of Guardians’ pitchers who made their debut last season. With last year’s pitching graduates, the farm system is headlined by two high-profile impact bats. Kyle Manzardo has a chance to start the year on the Opening Day roster and Chase DeLauter is one of the most popular breakout picks in the dynasty community. Keep reading to check out the full top 20.

Head over to the Pitcher List Dynasty page to check out the rest of the farm system rankings published!


Top Guardians Prospects


The Top Tier


1) Kyle Manzardo – 1B, 23 YO

2023 Stats (CPX/AAA): .236 AVG | .337 OBP | .464 SLG | 17 HR | 1 SB | 19.3 K% | 13.3 BB%

Entering the 2023 season, somebody would have thought I was crazy if I said that Kyle Manzardo would be traded for Aaron Civale during the season. The former 63rd overall pick from 2021 seemed destined to be the next great Rays’ hitter. Since being drafted, Manzardo had done nothing but mash. He posted a 173 wRC+ in 2021 followed by a 172 wRC+ in 2022. He possesses the perfect blend of patience, contact skills, and power to create a first baseman profile that fantasy managers dream about. His left-handed stroke drives balls into gaps reminiscent of how Freddie Freeman plays.

The 2023 season was one to forget filled with injuries and struggles. He was forced to miss over a month of the season with a shoulder injury and on top of that his mom was dealing with a serious health scare which could not have been good for his mental state. Under the hood, nothing was alarming about Manzardo’s 2023 season. He still showed off excellent plate discipline, a smooth swing, excellent contact skills, and high exit velocities. The only difference was an extremely low BABIP which should not continue. He slashed .272/.340/.565 with six home runs in the AFL this season putting to rest any long-term concerns over his ability. Manzardo is the best first-base prospect in baseball heading into 2024.


2) Chase DeLauter – OF, 22 YO

2023 Stats (CPX/A+/AA): .355 AVG | .417 OBP | .528 SLG | 5 HR | 6 SB | 12.4 K% | 9.5 BB%

The Guardians had to wait longer than expected to see their 2023 first-round pick make his professional debut. DeLauter underwent toe surgery in January that sidelined him until June 5th. Well, DeLauter’s debut was worth the wait. The young outfielder posted at least a 140 wRC+ at all three levels he touched. He quickly proved to be one of the most polished hitters in the Minor Leagues. He combines an excellent understanding of the strike zone with plus contact skills. Add in the fact that he uses the entire field and has a swing designed to hit line drives, and it is easy to see how he could be a plus-plus hitter.

Hst hit tool is only part of the story. DeLauter utilizes his 6’4″ frame to tap into plus power. Even though his swing is designed to drop balls into the gaps, he can easily launch the ball out of the park. DeLauter should continue to move quickly through Cleveland’s system. Although the sample size is limited, he already profiles to be an excellent dynasty asset.


3) Daniel Espino – SP, 23 YO

2023 MiLB Stats: DNP

Espino comes with all the talent in the world. Last season, Espino ranked as the Guardians’ top prospect. This year, even though he did not throw a single pitch, he still ranks third. Opposing batters have yet to show that it is possible to make consistent contact off of Espino. His fastball sits in the upper 90s with the ability to easily hit triple-digits. Once you try to catch up to that, he hits you with a wipeout slider to catch you off balance. His curveball and changeup are also at least average offerings. No wonder Espino has struck out over 40% of the batters he has faced in his professional career.

The issue, and the reason he ranks third, is concerns over his durability. Espino underwent surgery during the 2023 season and is expected to return toward the beginning of 2024. (He is already throwing off a mound which is great to see). This means that he has not thrown a pitch during live game-action since April 29th, 2022. The stuff is electric, but it could take some time for Espino to build his innings back up. The stuff is electric, but there is a strong chance Espino will wind up in a high-leverage/closer role in the future.


4) George Valera – OF, 23 YO

2023 Stats (CPX/AAA): .220 AVG | .349 OBP | .397 SLG | 11 HR | 3 SB | 26.6 K% | 16.0 BB%

Valera feels like he has been hanging around prospect lists forever at this point. After signing with the Guardians in 2017, scouts instantly praised Valera’s elite bat speed. This bat speed allows Valera to tap into pull-side power which is aided by a leg-kick. The power is his carrying tool and has been evident throughout his professional career. Patience at the plate helps him get even more pitches to drive.

What limits Valera’s home run totals is inconsistent contact skills. Valera’s previously mentioned patience puts him into a lot of two-strike counts. Combine that with above-average whiff rates and it is easy to understand why he has run consistently high strikeout rates. The athleticism and raw, natural power create an upside that not many other players have. If the hit tool can improve, Valera could be a 30 home run threat.


5) Juan Brito – 2B/3B, 22 YO

2023 Stats (A+/AA/AAA): .271 AVG | .371 OBP | .434 SLG | 14 HR | 7 SB | 15.9 K% | 14.1 BB%

The Guardians and Rockies made a trade before the 2023 season. The Rockies experienced the fruits of the trade this season seeing Nolan Jones put together a breakout season. The Guardians acquired Juan Brito and are watching him progress through their minor league system. Since making his professional debut in 2019, Brito has done nothing but hit. Brito combines plus contact skills with some of the best zone understanding in the minor leagues. His walk rates have been in the double digits every season of his minor league career.

Brito is a hit-first profile, but he hit a career-high 14 home runs in 2023. He posts above-average pull rates which helps to inflate his home run totals. The most disappointing part of his 2023 season was the lack of stolen bases. His steal totals dropped from 17 in 2022 to six in 2023. Most of his value is generated in OBP leagues where his plus hit tool and strong walk rates create value. He is unlikely ever to be a standout fantasy asset.


6) Brayan Rocchio – SS/2B/3B, 23 YO

2023 MiLB Stats: .280 AVG | .367 OBP | .421 SLG | 7 HR | 25 SB | 12.3 K% | 11.2 BB%

2023 MLB Stats: .247 AVG | .279 OBP | .321 SLG | 0 HR | 0 SB | 31.4 K% | 4.7 BB%

Rocchio was signed out of Venezuela by the Guardians back in 2017. He made his professional debut at just 17 years old showing off plus speed and the ability to hit for excellent average. He has moved slowly through the Guardians’ making his major league debut this past season. Although his power has increased steadily, there is not much major league power projection. During his first taste of major league action, he posted an average exit velocity under 86 mph with a launch angle of just 1.5 degrees. He never projects to hit more than 10 home runs in a season.

He generates fantasy value from his legs. Rocchio lacks elite speed, but he has strong baseball instincts that should allow him to steal 20 bases a season. Although his hit tool suffered in his first stint, he has shown off strong contact skills throughout his minor league career. He profiles as a replacement-level player with more real-life value than fantasy value.


7) Kahlil Watson – SS/2B, 20 YO

2023 Stats (A+): .216 AVG| .329 OBP | .405 SLG | 14 HR | 25 SB | 26.8 K% | 12.4 BB%

Watson is that one prospect that I just cannot throw in the towel on. The former first-round pick comes with high volatility. His raw athleticism is off the charts despite a smaller frame. He has excellent speed both on the bases and with his bat. Most of Watson’s power comes to the pull side where he can hit some moonshots. Watson was traded at the deadline last season to Cleveland for Josh Bell. The Guardians are hopeful that a change in scenery will help revive Watson’s career and unlock the potential scouts first saw.

Reviving his career might be a bit harsh. Watson is still just 20 years old and will not turn 21 until after Opening Day. While his career has not progressed as quickly as many hoped, there is still plenty of time for development. He lowered his strikeout rate and whiff rate significantly and walked over 12% of the time in 2023. His HR/FB numbers have always been well above-average speaking to his power potential. If everything ever clicks, this is a 25/20 player who has even more value in OBP leagues. His ranking seventh here is a bet on talent and the Guardians’ ability to suck the most out of their players.


Prospects Dynasty Managers Should Know


8) Alex Clemmey – SP, 18 YO

2023 MiLB Stats: DNP

Anytime a lefty can touch 99 MPH, he is worth keeping on your radar. Clemmey was the Guardians’ second-round pick in this past draft and has the frame and stuff that makes him an exciting prospect. Control will be the biggest thing to watch when he makes his professional debut in 2024.


9) Joey Cantillo – SP, 24 YO

2023 Stats (AA/AAA):119.1 IP | 4.07 ERA | 28.0 K% | 13.2 BB%

Cantillo deploys an enticing arsenal featuring a mid-90s fastball and multiple plus secondary offerings. The issue is an inability to throw strikes consistently leading to high walk rates. There is significant relief risk here but also enough upside to warrant keeping him on your watch list.


10) Ralphy Velazquez – C, 18 YO

2023 Stats (CPX): .348 AVG | .393 OBP | .739 SLG | 2 HR | 1 SB | 17.9 K% | 10.7 BB%

Velasquez’s movement before the pitch is extremely quiet as he relies on his quick bat speed to do most of his damage. He features a small toe tap allowing his timing to stay intact and has significant pull-side pop. Despite being a first-round pick this past season, he is still several years away from the major leagues and there are already questions over whether or not he will be able to stick behind the plate.


11) Angel Martinez – 2B/SS, 21 YO

2023 Stats(AA/AAA): .251 AVG | .321 OBP | .394 SLG | 14 HR | 11 SB | 20.1 K% | 8.0 BB%

Martinez is a switch-hitting middle infielder who excelled in the lower levels of the minor leagues. Since his promotion to Double-A, the batting average has gone down and the strikeout rate has gone up. He still profiles to have a plus hit tool, but the rest of his profile is rather mediocre offensively.


12) Welbyn Francisca – SS, 17 YO

2023 Stats (DSL): .316 AVG | .419 OBP | .500 SLG | 3 HR | 11 SB | 19.6 K% | 13.4 BB%

The switch-hitting infielder made an impressive professional debut in the DSL this year. His swing produces tons of line drives while his natural inclination to pull the ball helps provide more power to his small frame. The lack of physical projection combined with a high swinging strike rate are the concerns moving forward.


13) Jaison Chourio – OF, 18 YO

2023 Stats (CPX/A): .321 AVG | .446 OBP | .418 SLG | 1 HR | 20 SB | 22.5 K% | 19.0 BB%

The younger brother of a potential star in the making Jackson Chourio, Jaison has plenty of potential in his own right. He is a bit bigger than his brother at 6’1″ but lacks any sense of physical maturity. He makes up for his mediocre power projection with plus speed and an excellent understanding of the strike zone.


14) Deyvison De Los Santos – 3B/1B, 20 YO

2023 Stats (AA): .254 AVG | .297 OBP | .431 SLG | 20 HR | 4 SB | 26.0 K% | 5.2 BB%

A surprising Rule-5 pick, De Los Santos will have a chance to prove himself on Opening Day 2024. Chris Clegg notes a swing change that took place during the 2023 season and could produce better results in 2024. The concern is that he will strike out too often and hit too many ground balls to be a reliable fantasy asset as a corner infielder.


15) Will Dion – SP, 23 YO

2023 Stats (A+/AA): 116.2 IP | 2.39 ERA | 27.9 K% | 7.6 BB%

Dion’s delivery is nearly an exact replica of Clayton Kershaw’s. He even has an outstanding curveball just like Kershaw. The one thing that Dion does not have is very much fastball velocity which limits his ceiling as a fantasy asset. More information on Dion can be found here.


The Next Five


Although these prospects do not crack the top 15, dynasty managers should keep their eye on these five players.

Jhonkensy Noel – 22 YO-A slugging first baseman who might never hit for a high enough average to earn consistent playing time.

Dayan Frias – 21 YO- Utility infielder with quick hands and more power than his frame suggests

Jose Pirela – 17 YO- Big-bodied outfielder with a high ceiling worth monitoring

Parker Messick – 23 YO- A crafty lefty with a plus changeup and below-average fastball velocity

Johnathan Rodriguez – 24 YO- Outfielder with big-time home run rates and a severe strikeout issue throughout his professional career.


Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on X)

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