As the calendar finally turns to Februrary, we’re supposed to get baseball of some sort. At some point, minor leaguers who aren’t on the 40 man roster will at least report to spring training since they still don’t have a seat at the table in bargaining negotiations, which means we’ll have a chance to get some of them in action until MLB and the MLBPA can iron out a deal, before too late, hopefully.

For the Cleveland Guardians, that’s a little tricky given that 14 of the players on its 40 man roster right now have yet to play in the majors since they had a major offseason overhaul of the 40 man roster due to the Rule 5 crunch they were up against (which still hasn’t taken place). So missing 14 players that are prospects, and notably top prospects, to open camp isn’t a good thing.

Despite that, here at Guardians Baseball Insider, our schedule of content continues on starting with our annual Top Prospect series and scouting reports. In 2021, you noticed that instead of the arbitrary numbers that used to be set for the series, from 50-75 in the past, we didn’t have a cutoff and instead wrote scouting reports for players we thought were worth knowing about in the system for fans of the organization and then ranked them once we decided on that.

At least in 2021, there was a minor league season for us to base this list off of.

Once again, we don’t have a set number we are ranking, and decided on 61 as of now. If the lockout ends and trade are made, you could see it shrink if someone gets traded away. But as of Februrary 1, 2022, it’s a top 61 ranking of Cleveland Guardians prospects and full scouting reports on all 61.

In addition to continuing to avoid an arbitrary cutoff for the rankings, we are sticking with scouting grades for the list and ranking that way. So that means the 20-80 scouting scale we used to rank players tools and the list overall, are being used again. And here’s a little primer on how that works again.

DISCLAIMERWhile the writers at this site and who put together this list and these reports see players, watch video and talk to other writers/evaluators about the list and these players, remember this list is for entertainment for readers who are fans of the Cleveland Guardians and prospects. This isn’t a definite ranking and people in the Cleveland Guardians front office and coaching staff aren’t taking our opinions into account for anything. These are just a few people’s opinions on these prospects who happen to like and watch a lot of minor league baseball and want to have fun writing these and help inform fans of what we see and think when we watch these players. So when you read these, enjoy the information and opinions based on evaluations of them and if you watch these players yourself at some point, take what we said to the park and maybe you’ll see what we’re talking about, or maybe you’ll come away with a different opinion. But at least you’ll have something to go off of. 

(Here’s last year’s primer if you need a refresher on some things) 

Like 2021, there are multiple voices and viewpoints on these evaluations. Justin Lada, who focuses primarily on the more developed prospects, Willie Hood, who evaluates the previous year’s draft picks for the list and some of the younger players from the previous year’s draft, and Joe Coblitz, who is based near Goodyear, Arizona, and focuses on international players and rookie league players with a year or two of experience. There may be some other contributors who join the staff in the prospect scouting report process this year.

What to look for

The 2022 Cleveland Guardians prospect rankings based on Guardians Baseball Insider ranked and reported on the top 61 prospects in the system as of 2/1/2022.

One scouting report will publish per day until the minor league season starts. Scouting reports for the first hitter (#61, 1B Joe Naranjo) and first pitcher (#58 RHP Nic Enright) will be free for all site visitors to read to preview the depth and quality in writing and reporting we provide.

There may be other reports unlocked based as we run through the series as we hit certain milestones, but the rest of the list is for GBI Insiders ONLY which is only $4.99 a month if you want to sign up to read the entire list and all the evaluations, along with other Insider coverage all season long.

The format has changed a little bit in 2022 from 2021. In 2021, we provided detailed writeups on every single tool for prospects and provided a grade, and the feedback we received is that was a little bit of an information overload, so this year’s format is simplified. It will look like this now.

The change to this format is for a few reasons. The prospect evaluation industry uses all this scouting scale over the narrative-based descriptions of players’ skills, and now GBI does as well. It falls in line with other industry standards on how writers do prospect evaluation and write. It also allows us to give you, the reader, a better look into how Cleveland’s prospects are evaluated throughout the industry and what we’ve seen of them ourselves

Will will provide scouting grades for all the tools each hitter or pitcher has in a table format, and then we will write like this:

Build & Background: A players physical build and a little background information on him

What (Player X) does well: Pretty straight forward – what are a players best skills

Where (Player X) needs to improve: Also pretty straight forward – what skills players will need to improve upon to become a major leaguer, or a better one

Intangibles: Looking at these players as people and what qualities they have that go beyond a traditional skill or tool grade

Future: What we think their future looks like in 2022 and beyond

Baseball’s scouting scale is a 20-80 scale (some outlets and teams use 2-8, but it’s the same thing) and some places use different numbers on this scale. So this is what GBI will be using and what it means.

Overall grades

The overall grades are the total future grade value we’ve determined based on evaluating the players tools. This is how we determine the total impact we think the player can have at the major league level if they make it and develop how we think they might.

80 – Based on Fangraphs’ version of WAR, an 80 grade player produces a 7.0 fWAR season or better. In 2019, the last non-pandemic impacted season, seven hitters and one pitcher produced a 7.0 fWAR season. This is as good as it gets. There aren’t many 80s in baseball, if any. This is a Hall of Fame level player if they get this grade. Mike Trout and Gerritt Cole reached this level in 2019. 

70 – These players produce anywhere between a 5.0 to 6.0 fWAR season. Five pitchers and five five hitters produced these seasons in 2019, so these players are top 10-hitters and pitchers in the league. They’re perennial All-Stars. There also aren’t many 70s in baseball. These players might have Hall of Fame level talent and compete for MVP’s and Cy Young awards year in and out. Scouts refer to 70’s as “plus-plus” or “double-plus”. Jose Ramirez or Corey Kluber have produced these types of season’s multiple times. Nolan Arenado, Shane Bieber, Jacob deGrom, and Max Schezer were these players in 2019. 

60 – Players with this overall might produce 3.0 to 4.0 fWAR in a given year. A combined 120 hitters and pitchers reached this level in 2019. Really good players, or “plus.” These types make All-Star games too, maybe just less often than 70s. Sonny Gray, Zack Wheeler, Francisco Lindor, and Tim Anderson produced these kinds of season in 2019. Liam Hendricks had a 3.8 fWAR season in 2019 as reliever. 

55 – 2.5 fWAR is roughly about the production level for a “55” overall player, or “above average” everyday players. Players who contribute to their teams quite a bit but aren’t quite All-Stars, but maybe some years they are. Over 60 players produced this level in 2019. Nick Castellanos and Amed Rosario produced at this level in 2019, as did Yu Darvish, Miles Mikolas, and Josh Hader.

50 – 50 is an “Average” everyday player. These players can start just about anywhere in the majors and be valuable to their teams. The average WAR for a player in a given season is usually around 2.0 fWAR, which roughly over 70 players produced in 2019. They are regular contributors and 50’s are usually still top-100 prospects in baseball because ascending to anything above 50 is really, really difficult and means this player has a chance to be an everyday player at a position or as a starting pitcher. In 2019, Wade Miley and Andrew Benintendi were good examples of this level.

45 – A “fringe-average player,” as they are noted with this grade, produces about 1.5 fWAR. Over 100 players produced 1.5 fWAR in 2019.  These are also good prospects who can provide value to their clubs in the majors. They can start, but teams might want to upgrade from them. Sometimes 45’s are good backups, platoon players or the last starter in your rotation, or your sixth inning reliever. Jordan Luplow is a good platoon player who would fit here or #5 starter like Mike Fiers

40 – A “below league average” player produces around 1.0 fWAR. These are your bench players. Backups, utility players, emergency starters or low-leverage relievers. Leury Garcia, Jason Kipnis, and Alex Gordon were players who were around this level of production in 2019, and Mike Leake. A 40 reliever would be about Adam Cimber’s 2019 season. 

35 – “Emergency callup” type players usually produce about an even 0.0 in fWAR or withing a 0.5 deviation of this. These are players who serve as Triple-A depth who can come in and serve on an MLB bench briefly and play a or pitch if injuries and depth become an issue. In 2021, this would be someone like Rene Rivera or Harold Ramirez or a Kyle Nelson and JC Mejia for Cleveland. 

30 – Still considered “emergency callup” type players, but don’t have the skills to be a sure emergency type callup. These players have a few good skills. They might be good fielders or are fast or have one good pitch, or have good command but below average pitches. These players might have a shot to play in the majors, like 35’s but are most likely players in the minors that fill out a minor league roster and teams hope they can get some value from one or two “non-impact” skills.

20 – Organizational players are players that fill out the minor league rosters. They don’t really have skills that show on the field that will translate to the majors. It’s important to remember a “20” prospect was probably one of the best players in their high school, or was a pretty good college player but are unlikely to make it to the majors.


Now that we’ve covered the “overall” grade for players, we can give an example of “tool” grades.

The tools GBI evaluates for prospects are:


Hit – This is how well a player can make contact and good quality contact at that. Can they hit all pitches? Can they work a walk or have a good at bat? In the AL, the median batting average in 2021 was .245. This is roughly a 45-50 hit tool. Trea Turner hit .338 in 2021 and led baseball in average, so that would be about an 80. 

Power – Pretty self explanatory. Doubles and triples are included here in addition to homers. Raw power and in-game power are taken into account here. Many players have good raw power but have a hard time hitting for power in games. Mike Yazstremski hit 25 homers in 2021, which was 61 out of 132 qualified hitters, which would give him about 50-55 power. Vlad Guerrero Jr. hit 48 homers in 2021, which is 80 grade. 


Arm – How strong a players arm is and where it will work for them on the field. Accuracy is also taken into account here. 

Fielding – How good a player is as a fielder, infielder or outfielder. We look at their instincts, decision making, route running and range. It’s also important to remember we are grading these fielders at their respective positions. If we graded a shortstop as a “fringe-average” fielder at shortstop, they’re going to be a better defender at second base, and maybe third base depending on their arm. In the outfield, a “fringe-average” defender in centerfield would be average or maybe even above average in left or right field.


Speed is for the most part fact based and less “personal evaluation.” On players we are able clock how fast they run home-to-first, we hand out a hard grade with no real room for fluctuation here other than how well they run the bases after and how their speed will hold up as they get older. We also take base running instincts into account here.

Speed grades

80 – LH<3.90 home-to-first; RH<4.0 home-to-first

70 – LH<4.0; RH<4.10

60 – LH<4.10; RH<4.20

55 – LH<4.15; RH<4.25

50 – LH<4.20; RH<4.30

45 – LH<4.25; RH<4.35

40 – LH<4.30; RH<4.40

30 – LH<4.40; RH<4.50

20 – LH>4.50; RH>4.50


We aren’t placing grades on intangibles, but we like to make note of areas about a player we know about that we think can impact a players development, negatively or positively. If a player is a baseball rat, a good makeup or high-character player, or might be bi-lingual, are all things that could have an impact on their development that doesn’t show up in the tools.

Future/Roles – This is where we talk about a players upside. If their best case scenario is a starting, All-Star shortstop, or if they’re more likely a utility player, starter, or reliever.

Risk – Low, Moderate, High and Extreme – the variance on a player’s development, or how likely we think it is they will develop into the overall given. Someone like Shane Bieber might have had a low or medium risk on his development, whereas Bradley Zimmer was someone with a higher risk because of his swing and miss issues.

Tools grades

Not much different than overall grades. 

80 – An 80 hit tool is basically a batting champion. Trea Turner. An 80 fastball is Emmanuel Clase. 

70 –  Shane Bieber’s command and someone like Myles Straw’s speed. Still “double-plus.”

60 – “Plus” Franmil Reyes’ power 

55 – “Above-average.” – 30 homers in 2021 was a little above average among qualified hitters.

50 – “Average.” Dylan Carlson hit .261 in 2021, which was 61 out of 132 qualified hitters in baseball. 

45 – “Fringe-average.” Wade Miley’s fastball averaged 90.1 in 2021, 111th out of 129 pitchers who threw over 100 innings. 

40 – “Below average.” This would be like Bradley Zimmer’s hit tool.

30 – “Well below average.” We skip 40 to 30 here. Franmil Reyes’ speed might fit here.

20 – Bottom of the scale. There aren’t many grades like this. Roberto Perez might have 20 speed. Billy Hamilton’s power is the best example here too.

Here are some other places to read up on this info to get a better understanding. Some of these are a little older, so the numbers and scales are a little outdated. So adjust them upwards in some cases (like the average fastball velocity and power grades are higher in 2021 than they were when some of these were written).

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