Image: Lincoln Horsley

Next up in our 2021 Cleveland Guardians top 10 prospects by position series is corner infielders. First base and third base were combined because on their own, these positions would be bleak, to put it mildly. It was futile to rank 10 players at third and first individually. Combining the list makes it a better evaluation for readers and wastes less time on players who probably don’t have a real shot to advance very far. It’s one of the weaker areas of the system.

As always, Justin Lada, Willie Hood, and Joe Coblitz ranked these players 1-10, assigning 10 points to the top spot, eight for the second, eighth for third, etc. They are then combined together to create this list.

See the rest of this series so far:

2021 Cleveland Guardians top 10 relief pitching prospects

2021 Cleveland Guardians top 10 catching prospects

2021 Cleveland Guardians top 10 right handed pitching prospects

2021 Cleveland Guardians top 10 left handed starting pitching prospects

2021 Cleveland Guardians top 10 centerfield prospects

RankPlayerPoints
1Nolan Jones29
2Jhonkensy Noel28
3Gabriel Rodriguez24
4Junior Sanquintin20
5Joe Naranjo15
6Will Bartlett11
7Victor Nova11
8Marcos Gonzalez10
9Jose Devers9
10Jonathan Englemann5
Trenton Brooks2
Maick Collado1

1 3B/1B/ Nolan Jones

Age: 23
B/T: L/R
Level: TripleA Columbus
Outlook: The Pennsylvania native started the year off slowly at Columbus. He slowly increased his batting line throughout the season. The left-handed-hitting third baseman could seemingly make a move to first base if need be. Jones continues to work counts deep and displays plus power potential, with plenty coming in the form of double that could clear fences as he continues to develop. His defensive home is still to be determined, but he should play most days because of his advanced approach at the dish.

2 1B/3B Jhonkensy Noel

Age: 20
B/T: R/R
Level: High-A Lake County
Outlook: Immediately to start his minor league career graduating out of the complex leagues, Noel mashed and bashed his way onto the radar. He just kept hitting everything and hitting monstrous homers in Low-A Lynchburg. He battled a write and hamstring injury there but came back and got a promotion to High-A Lake County. After a brief adjustment period, he continued to mash there. Cleveland is still trying him at third base, but his home is ultimately probably first base where he will have to continue to be this kind of hitter to make it work there. He’s only 20 and should get to Double-A though, and he’s on the 40 man roster, which is impressive.

3 3B/SS Gabriel Rodriguez

Age: 20
B/T: R/R
Level: Low-A Lynchburg
Outlook: Signed as an international free agent in 2018, Rodriguez has been bypassed by a few of his class peers. Rodriguez has a strong arm capable of playing third, shortstop, and right field. His bat has not produced at the level many thought it would to this point fortunately for him, he was very young from the level. Rodriguez seems likely to repeat Low-A Lynchburg in 2022.

4 1B/3B Junior Sanquintin

Age: 20
B/T:
S/R
Level:
ACL
Outlook:
Sanquintin was part of a large group of short stops who signed as international free agents in 2018 and currently appears to be the only one permanently removed from that position. He primarily played 1B in 2021 with the ACL Indians where he was a solid defender and provided the power expected at the position. He will need to improve his walk rate to be a true MLB option, but has the makings of a solid first baseman with the versatility to switch to third if need be. Expect him to advance to Lake County by the end of 2022 if he plays as well as he did in the first half of 2021.

5 1B Joe Naranjo

Age: 21
B/T: L/L
Level: High-A Lake County
Outlook: Selected in the third round of the 2019 MLB Draft, Naranjo received a signing bonus just shy of $800 thousand. Compared to Jake Bauers (in his prospect years), Naranjo has yet to show the once-vaunted bat-to-ball skills that helped him be chosen so highly. Naranjo seems likely to repeat High-A Lake County in 2022.

6 1B Will Bartlett

Age: 21
B/T: R/R
Level: Low-A Lynchburg
Outlook: Signed as a 9th round selection in 2019 from IMG Academy, Bartlett has a good eye at the plate taking almost as many walks as he had hits for the Hillcats. Bartlett has plenty of raw power but will have to make more contact to become a prospect. He seems likely to repeat Lynchburg in 2022.

7 3B/OF Victor Nova

Age: 22
B/T: S/R
Level: Double-A Akron
Outlook: Acquired as part of the three-way deal with the Reds and Padres, that sent Trevor Bauer to Cincinnati and Franmil Reyes to Cleveland. Nova was a lotto ticket-type pickup, with good bat-to-ball skills and strike zone awareness, but no defensive home. He is an adequate player at several spots including 2B, 3B, and OF. Nova projects as a utility-type player at the highest level.

8 1B/3B Marcos Gonzalez

Age: 22
B/T: R/R
Level: Double-A Akron
Outlook: Signed for $250K as part of the 2016 International free agent period, Gonzalez is a versatile infielder with utility potential. The right-handed-hitting infielder showed rust after missing most of 2019 with a labrum injury and his 2020 was wiped out by Covid. There are no standout tools, but he is young (for level) and made a big jump to Akron last season. It seems likely he repeats the level but playing time may be hard to come by.

9 3B/2B Jose Devers

Age: 18
B/T:
R/R
Level:
ACL
Outlook:
Signed as a 2019 international free agent, Devers has only played one season with Cleveland and it wasn’t particularly outstanding. He started off very poorly, but did pick things up over the last three weeks when he was primarily used at second base instead of third. He may need a second season in Arizona (or at least extended spring training in 2022) before he can head to Lynchburg.

10 1B/OF Jonathan Englemann

Age: 25
B/T: R/R
Level: Double-A Akron
Outlook: Selected in the thirty-first round of the 2018 MLB Draft, Englemann offers some versatility with experience at first and in the outfield. The Michigan native has below average bat with an average to above raw power. He’s worked hard these past few offseason’s with his good friends Steven Kwan and Tyler Freeman in Texas, but he lacks similar upside. The former Wolverines outfielder could be a useful org guy for the Guardians in 2022.

Best of the rest

1B/OF Trenton Brooks

1B Maick Collado

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.