Next up in our 2021 Cleveland Guardians top 10 prospect by position rankings is right handed starting pitchers. Cleveland’s starting pitch depth is so vast that it made sense to break it up between left handed and right handed starters, though there are obviously more right handed options that left handed.

As usual the system is Justin Lada, Willie Hood and Joe Coblitz rank the players 1-10, where 10 points is rewarded for the top spot, nine for second, eight for third, and so on. The points are added together between the three writers and that creates the ranking you see here.

See our 2021 Cleveland Guardians Top 10 relief pitching prospects and 2021 Cleveland Guardians Top 10 catching prospects.

1Daniel Espino30
2Cody Morris24
3Peyton Battenfield21
4Gavin Williams18
5Xzavion Curry17
6Tanner Burns15
7Ethan Hankins14
8Lenny Torres Jr.11
9Carlos Vargas5
10Tobias Myers5
Aaron Davenport4
Josh Wolf1

1 Daniel Espino

Age: 21
Level: Double-A Akron
Outlook: The native of Panama offers huge upside with a quality four-pitch mix and an upper 90’s heater. Espino can pile up strikeouts thanks to a devastating curveball and slider combo. He has continued to work on improving his changeup. Despite his velocity, his fastball can be straight and hittable. It is his offspeed stuff that helps him generate outs. The 20-year-old’s control will need to continue to improve to realize his potential. Espino is powerful and athletic on the mound, which he couples with an immense work ethic, giving reason to believe in the possibilities.

2 Cody Morris

Age: 25
Level: Triple-A Columbus
Despite missing time a chunk of time in 2021, Morris came back and was electric out of the gate. He showed a new, shorter, modified delivery, shorter arm swing and better velocity on his fastball. The new arm swing helped the shape of his fastball improve and his curveball, slider and changeup all looked average or better. His control was about average and he’s now on the 40 man roster and has a chance to debut in 2022.

3 Peyton Battenfield

Age: 24
Double-A Akron
Usually, it’s always risky to trade with Tampa Bay, but Cleveland may have gotten the better of this deal for a change. Jordan Luplow is already gone from Tampa but Battenfield isn’t far off from helping Cleveland as a starter. He’s a big, burly right handed arm that may still have some more velocity in the tank with an already very strongly shaped fastball, and a slider and change that are average or better to go with it. He has a curveball and cutter that were effective previously, and he has above average control to go with it.

4 Gavin Williams

Age: 22
Level: 2021 Draft
Outlook: The first-round pick of the Tribe in the 2021 MLB Draft, Williams is a physical presence on the mound. He is armed with an upper-90’s heater that touches 100-101 on occasion. The best of his four-pitch mix is a curveball that can help him rack up strikeouts. Williams rounds out his repertoire with a slider and sinking changeup. He has huge upside and should advance quickly once he’s assigned outside of Arizona. Williams seems destined for a 2022 assignment in Lake County.

5 Xzavion Curry

Age: 23
Level: Double-A Akron
Outlook: The right-hander’s rising fastball sits 91-94 and touches 95 with reports of 96 mph. A north/south pitcher, Curry has a swing and miss-inducing curveball that drops vertically through the zone and can be buried in the dirt. He rounds out his repertoire with a low-80’s slider that works surprisingly well with the delivery and an underdeveloped mid-80’s changeup. Curry missed the 2019 season with a shoulder injury, but burst onto the scene, covering three levels and finishing his season at Double-A Akron.

6 Tanner Burns

Age: 23
High-A Lake County
A high quality SEC performer, Burns doesn’t have a ton of projection in his profile but he has solid stuff across the board and more than enough velocity on his fastball along with good control. He started off 2021 strong in Lake County, developing a cutter/slider hybrid to go with a strong fastball, curve and change combo. He did incur some elbow issues and suffered control problems and flatter stuff after coming back, so 2022 will be a year to watch how he settles in with a year of pro experience under his belt.

7 Ethan Hankins

Age: 21
Level: Low-A Lake County (2019)
Outlook: After undergoing Spring Tommy John Surgery, Hankins has a long road ahead. The righty has worked hard to maintain his frame and improve his stuff. In the offseason, Hankins shortened his arm swing while working on his curve, which resulted in the pitch topping 3,000 rpm. There’s middle-of-the-rotation potential here (or more) if he can regain his previous stuff.

8 Lenny Torres Jr.

Age: 21
Low-A Lynchburg
After missing 2019 with Tommy John, the pandemic wiped away Torres Jr.’s return in 2020. His numbers in 2021 when he finally did get back on the mound didn’t look great, but his stuff looked electric at times and his velocity came back. Pitching a full season was a big win for him and he could move up the board on 2022 if his control see’s some post-TJ gains now that he’s back on schedule.

9 Carlos Vargas

Age: 22
Level: High-A Lake County
Outlook: The right-hander is currently recovering from Spring Tommy John Surgery. When healthy the righty has one of the best sliders throughout the minor leagues. It is a pitch with a nasty two-plane break that can strike out batters at any level. His fastball sits comfortably in the 94-97 range and has reportedly touched 100 mph in the past. While his changeup is behind the other two pitches it has the potential to become an average third offering. The righty has yet to appear above Low-A Lake County. Vargas could be moved to the pen where his pure stuff and fringe-average control would potentially play up.

10 Tobias Myers

Age: 23
Triple-A Durham (Tampa Bay – 2021)
Another pickup from Tampa Bay, Myers is a smaller, but well built athletic arm. He has a deep pitch mix with good characteristics on his fastball and average control. He’s on the 40 man roster and should have a chance to help out the pitching staff in Cleveland in 2022 as a spot starter or he could see his stuff play up in relief.

Best of the rest

Aaron Davenport

Josh Wolf


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