Cleveland Guardians Top Prospects 2024
Cleveland Guardians top prospects for dynasty fantasy baseball including Chase DeLauter, Kyle Manzardo, Juan Brito, Brayan Rocchio, and more.
Welcome to our team prospect rankings. Over the next two months, I will be pumping out team top prospect rankings and evaluations for dynasty baseball. These reports are generated from live looks, film study, and advanced data analysis to bring you in-depth fantasy scouting reports on every player you need to know, with today’s being the Cleveland Guardians Top Prospects.
Not all 30 players in each writeup will be dynasty relevant, but many will, and if you play in a deep league, certainly most of the names will be worth knowing.
You can check out our previous Top Prospect Rankings:
Atlanta, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Arizona, Los Angeles, Colorado, San Francisco, Baltimore, Boston, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays
Each player has a detailed write-up. The top 10 rankings and writeups are free for all, but the rest of the top prospects are for paid subs. Get an edge in your dynasty leagues and get in on some of these players first! Let’s get to it: our Cleveland Guardians top prospects.
Cleveland Guardians Top Prospects
1. Chase DeLauter, OF, 22, 6’4”/235
After a successful career at James Madison, the Guardians selected DeLauter with the 16th overall pick in the 2022 draft. While injuries have been a major factor in his career, when DeLauter was on the field, the performance was strong.
Standing at 6’4”, DeLauter has one of the best combinations of athleticism and size in the minors. The swing takes flack from some because it is compact and has a short follow-through, but that has not affected his ability to hit for power or make consistent contact. The barrel control is elite, and the swing creates a natural loft.
If you have questions about whether DeLauter’s swing can play, just take a look under the hood. The power is easily plus as his average exit velocity checked in at 89 mph with a 90th percentile firmly in the plus range. He lifts the ball with ease and posts ideal launch angles consistently.
The contact is strong, and DeLauter posted a zone contact rate of 88 percent with an overall contact rate of 86 percent. The plate discipline is strong as well, as he picks his spots well and chases just 20 percent of pitches out of the zone, putting the strike zone recognition at plus or better.
Delauter is a plus runner as well but has not been overly aggressive on the base paths. While he has only played in 57 games professionally, he has stolen just six bases. While the capabilities are there, how much he will run as he progresses through the system remains to be seen.
You could argue that DeLuater is a 60 grade with his hit tool, power, and speed. When you see him on the field, he just looks like the best player on the field, and there is a strong chance we'll see Delauter with Cleveland by midseason in 2024. The biggest key will be staying healthy.
FFG: Top-20 OF
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .280/.390/25 HR/10 SB
2. Kyle Manzardo, 1B, 23, 6’0”/205
After being selected by the Rays in the second round of the 2021 draft, Manzardo hit and hit some more, with his breakout coming during the 2022 season. After dealing with things off the field for most of 2023 as well as a dislocated shoulder, 2023 felt like a lost season in some ways, but Manzardo rebounded in a major way in the Arizona Fall League, getting back to the root of who he is as a player.
Manzardo has a strong feel for contact, leaving the barrel in the zone for a long time. He made contact on 80 percent of pitches in 2023 with a zone contact rate of 90 percent. The contact has always been strong, but some questioned the ability to get to power after 2022.
Making major strides in that department, Manzardo posted an average exit velocity north of 90 mph with a 90th percentile of 104.5 mph. Those numbers were up from 88.2 and 102.6 mph in 2022.
The contact and plate discipline skills are easily plus or better, and the blossoming power may end up being above-average or plus when all is said or done. The hit tool gives Manzarod a unique skillset at first base, and the blossoming power gives some intriguing potential.
FFG: Top-10 1B
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .290/.380/25 HR/2 SB
3. Juan Brito, MI, 22, 5’11”/202
Brito was an underrated find by the Rockies on the International market in 2019 and immediately showed a strong hit tool in the DSL that summer. The pandemic set back developmental time, but Brito has continued to progress at a fast rate, reaching Triple-A as a 21-year-old in 2023.
The switch hitter shows strong contact skills from both sides of the plate, having an overall contact rate of 80 percent with a zone contact rate of 88 percent. He controls the zone and picks up spin well, chasing just 23 percent of pitches outside of the zone.
The power is more to the pull side, hitting 14 home runs in 555 plate appearances last year. He was a doubles machine, though, collecting 31 and adding a triple. The 90th percentile exit velocity of 102 mph was close to the average for his age, but the frame does not suggest that more power could be on the way.
After reaching Triple-A in 2023, Brito is likely to begin the season there with a chance to debut by midseason. Having versatility, playing second, third, and shortstop, does allow Brito more flexibility in a Cleveland organization full of middle-infield prospects. Brito likely sticks at second base, but at least has experience in multiple spots.
FFG: Hit-First MI
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .290/.375/20 HR/10 SB
4. Brayan Rocchio, SS, 22, 5’10”/170
Rocchio is a contact and glove-first shortstop who does not have the most impressive body, but he plays much bigger than his 5’10” frame may suggest. A switch hitter who shows stronger contact skills from the left side, still produces solid contact rates overall, checking in with an 87 percent zone contact rate and an 80 percent overall rate. Rocchio can get aggressive at times, but they still posted a chase rate better than the league average of around 29 percent.
The power is a bit more of a question mark as the home runs fell from 18 in 2022 to just seven in 2023, but he still managed 33 doubles and six triples. The higher-end exit velocities did improve as Rocchio saw his 90th percentile exit velocity increase from 100 mph to 101.7 mph, while the average exit velocities stayed similar, checking in at 86.7 mph in 2023.
While the power may be below average, the hit tool and speed are arguably plus as well as having a plus glove at shortstop. He may not be the most exciting fantasy prospect, but Rocchio is likely the Guardians’ everyday shortstop as soon as Opening Day 2024 and has a high floor who should be in the lineup consistently.
FFG: Hit and Speed High Floor SS
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .280/.360/15 HR/20 SB
5. Daniel Espino, RHP, 22, 6’2”/225
When on the mound, there are few pitchers with the pure arm talent that Daniel Espino has. Being selected in the first round of the 2019 draft, Espino hit the ground running showing his high strikeout upside that year before the pandemic caused the 2020 season to shut down. Espino made 20 starts in 2021, pitching 91.2 innings, posting a 3.73 ERA and 152 strikeouts.
Unfortunately, the 2022 season ended after 18 innings due to a knee injury, and he missed all of 2023 due to a shoulder strain that led to anterior capsule repair surgery, a dangerous one for pitchers.
When Espino is healthy, he flashes a high-end fastball that is one of the best in the minors, sitting north of 96 but touching 100 regularly with high IVB numbers, making it a hard pitch for hitters to catch up to.
The fastball plays well with a slider that sits around 90 mph with nice depth and sweeping action, generating plenty of whiffs. When hitters start trying to cheat on those pitches, he changes their eye level quickly with a 12-6 curveball. Espino does have a changeup but has not used it often to this point.
Espino is back throwing, but it is still hard to nail down when we might see him on the mound again. While his shoulder surgery is usually a tough one on pitchers, the hope is that Espino can get back to the level of the arm we have seen him be at in the past, which looks like an ace upside. It is fun to dream on the talent, but the most important thing is getting Espino back on the mound in game action, something we haven’t seen since April 2022.
FFG: SP2-3 if Healthy
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: 150 IP/3.40 ERA/180 K
Variance: Very High
Buy/Sell: Buy Because the Price Has Never Been Lower
6. Welbyn Francisca, SS, 17, 5’10”/175
While Cleveland typically spreads their international bonus pool money across a multitude of players, they did give a sizeable bonus of $1.375 million to Welbyn Francisca in January 2023. Francisca has an advanced body for his age, considering he is shorter and won’t turn 18 until next May.
He hit the ground running in the DSL, showing why he was one of the best hitters there, slashing .316/.419/.500 with three home runs, seven doubles, and six triples in 40 games. Francisca showed strong plate discipline and the ability to steal bases, swiping 11 bags.
The switch hitter showed strong abilities from both sides of the plate, posting a .915 OPS from the left side and a .947 from the right, with low strikeout rates on both.
Francisca has a smooth swing and controls the barrel quite well through the zone. With the bat speed he generates plus his maturing body, Francisca might be able to get to average game power, especially considering the number of extra-base hits he already had as a young 17-year-old in 2023.
When Francisca comes stateside in 2024, we should get a better look at data and live looks to be able to better project the kind of players he might be long term.
FFG: Hit-First MI
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .275/.355/20 HR/15 SB
7. Ralphy Velazquez, C/1B, 18, 6’3”/215
Velazquez has a smooth, compact swing from the left side but has a ton of power in his 6’3”/215 lb frame. Selected in the first round of the 2023 draft out of California, we got only six games of action at the Complex level, but he looked quite strong in those appearances.
Posting a .348/.393/.739 slash with two home runs and three doubles in six games will get attention on you, even if it is a small sample. The swing generates effortless power, posting exit velocities quite strong for his age while also making high-end contact. Velazquez shows strong pitch recognition as well, rarely chasing pitches out of the zone.
Even if he is not a catcher long term, Velazquez should have plenty of bat to play first base. With a strong feel for contact with ease plus power, Velazquez is a player you dream of Cleveland developing into a high-level bat.
FFG: Power Hitting CI
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .275/.370/25 HR/1 SB
8. Alex Clemmey, LHP, 18, 6’6”/205
Cleveland felt like they got a steal on Clemmey with the 58th pick in the 2023 draft, handing him a bonus well above slot at $2.3 million.
Clemmey has a massive frame at 6’6”/205 lb and was still 17 years old at draft time. There is plenty of projection in his frame, but he does not necessarily need to add any velocity as his fastball sits in the mid-90s and is up to 98, with a ton of ride at the top of the zone. You could label the pitch a 70, and I wouldn't argue.
His curveball is a plus pitch as well as it sits near 80 mph with a ton of bat-missing ability. It features both sweeping action and downward action, making it a go-to pitch with two strikes. He still needs to work on his changeup and command in order to be a starter, but you have to love this landing spot in Cleveland, which has a great track record of success with pitchers.
The upside might be SP2-level production if all clicks right, but there is still plenty of development to be had for the tall lefty.
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: 160 IP/3.40 ERA/190 K
9. George Valera, OF, 23, 6’0”/195
It has been quite a road for Valera, who signed back in 2017 for $1.3 million and has now been on the 40-man roster for two years. Injuries have affected Valera as he has dealt with a broken hamate twice as well as hamstring issues. This led to Valera collecting just 338 plate appearances in 2023 and never gave him time to get going.
Valera has a fast bat through the zone and generates big exit velocities, posting a 91 mph average exit velocity and a 105 90th percentile, showing above-average or better power. While he did hit the ball on the ground too much in 2023, Valera still turned in a 12 percent barrel rate, which is pretty impressive.
From a contact standpoint, Valera shows strong strike zone awareness, chasing just 21 percent of pitches out of the zone, leading to high walk rates. But the contact leaves plenty to be desired. Valera posted an overall contact rate of 68 percent and a zone contact rate of 76 percent in 2023. This leads to low batting averages but high OBPs.
Valera needs to bounce back in a strong way in 2024 to improve his stock but will need to show health as well. There is an opportunity for him to spend time in Cleveland if he can get it going early in the season.
FFG: Low BA/High OBP OF
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .250/.360/25 HR/4 SB
Buy/Sell: Buy in Deeper Leagues
10. Jaison Chourio, OF, 18, 6’1”/162
The last name may stand out as you read Chourio, and it is because Jaison is the brother of Brewers top prospect Jackson Chourio. Cleveland handed Jaison a $1.2 million in 2022, and he has shown an impressive skillset ever since.
A strong athlete, Chourio shows a solid feel to hit with plenty of speed ot burn. After two seasons and spending time in the DSL, Complex League, and Single-A, Chourio has a career .304/.446/.411 slash with two home runs and 26 extra-base hits in 88 games. Currently, Chourio has not shown great game power, there is physical projection as he matures and fills out.
Chourio picks up spin well and has a great strike zone recognition as shown by a walk rate over 20 percent in the early going of his career. The strong contact skills also pair well with Chourio’s strong instincts on the base paths, as he has been successful on 34 of 40 stolen base attempts in 2022 and 2023.
Chourio plays a strong centerfield where he has a big arm. The bat is advanced for his age, and he will begin next season in full-season ball, still being 18. If Chourio adds power, he could end up being a plus hitter and runner who could get to 15 home run bat, making him a highly intriguing player.
FFG: High Hit Tool/OBP CF
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .290/.390/15 HR/20 SB
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