Another minor league season is in the books. 2022 saw 16 (16!) Cleveland Guardians prospects promoted to the majors to make their debuts, several that came from High-A in 2021, and even one that came all the way from Low-A in 2021. The club was really just a few innings away from making that debut total surge to 18.
Around 2019, it was apparent that this system had the potential to provide a new wave of talent to the big league club, starting to get noticed as a farm system on the rise. Despite the lost season of 2020, several prospects stayed on, or accelerated their timeline to the majors, and some of them broke out and forced their way to Cleveland. The notion about the Guardians system coming into the season was that it was filled with depth but lacked impact prospects. It turns out that all the depth was part of the reason Cleveland was able to clinch a division title in a year nobody expected.
Two affiliates, Single-A Lynchburg, and High-A Lake County, both made the championship round, although lost, on the backs of strong pitching, of course. Double-A Akron had a shot to clinch a playoff spot on the final day of the first half of the season, but defense and some control issues from Gavin Williams prevented that, and the ‘Ducks lost quite a few pitchers and couldn’t overcome bullpen issues either in the second half. Columbus played well all year despite major roster fluctations throughout.
So, with another minor league season in the books, we’ll be handing out the annual Guardians Baseball Insider prospect awards.
Three of our prospects (Steven Kwan, Konnor Pilkington and Oscar Gonzalez) all graduated off of pre-season rankings list this season, so they won’t be eligible for any minor league awards. We don’t have a best major league debut season by a prospect as an award, but if we did, you can probably imagine who it would have been.
So, in the coming days and weeks, we will release candidates and honorees for each award.
Some of these awards are going to be behind our paywall, and some will be free for all readers. Those awards will be indicated.
Here are the 2022 GBI awards to be on the lookout for:
2022 GBI Prospect of the Year (Paywall)
This will be awarded to who we thought was the best prospect in the Cleveland system in 2022 regardless of being a pitcher or hitter. Consideration is given to performance, foremost, but prospect status, age relative to level, along with the consistency of their performance this season.
2022 GBI Hitter/Pitcher of the Year (Paywall)
Whichever player GBI deems to be its 2022 prospect of the season, the opposite position will be used for this award. So if a hitter is named our 2022 Prospect of the Year, this will be the 2022 Pitching Prospect of the Year. If it is a pitcher, it will be Hitting Prospect of the Year. The same guidelines apply for choosing this award.
2022 GBI Comeback Prospect of the Year (Paywall)
This award is meant to recognize the prospect in the Cleveland system that came back in a big way in 2022 from either previous poor performance, injury, fallen prospect star, or seemingly came out of nowhere. The prospect considered for this award had to have played a full season previous above the complex league and considerations were given to the same areas: performance, consistency, prospect relevance and age to level.
2022 GBI Breakout Prospect (Paywall)
This GBI honor is for a Cleveland prospect that broke onto the scene. That could mean a number of things. They could now be a big league prospect and they previously weren’t, they were a prospect and vaulted up the rankings from earlier in the year, and just a completely unexpected performance in general.
2022 GBI Relief Prospect (Free)
This is pretty straight forward with one thing to keep in mind – big league relevance. Many minor league relievers can put up big numbers but have little chance of being an impact big league reliever. There were some relievers in the system this year who put up big numbers, but likely don’t have a big league future. The ones nominated here should all have some potential for having a big league future of varying levels.
2022 GBI Rookie (Prospect) of the Year (Paywall)
The 2022 prospect rookie of the year will be given to the prospect that had the best pro debut, meaning whichever prospect was drafted or signed in 2021 and made their debut in 2022, since only three 2022 draft pick/signees made their debut in 2022, and only for a few games anyway.
2022 GBI Defensive Prospect of the Year (Free)
Not many stats are good for evaluating defense at the minor league level – if any. So this one had some stats to go on, but mostly off of the eye test from prospects the crew saw in person. This is among players who obviously play big league defense and have a future in that role in some capacity.
2022 GBI Surprise and Disappointing Prospects (Paywall)
Also pretty self-explanatory here – Surprise Prospect of the Year is any prospect who might have been a breakout or did something unexpected to put themselves on the prospect map either in this system or overall. As far Disappointing Prospect, any player who had mostly a full 2022 season was considered if they had a bad season. We thought about age relative to level as well as stats and previous performance and rank, as long as they previously played a full season.
2022 GBI All Prospect Team (Free)
We put together a First and Second All-Prospect Team in the system. Pretty self-explanatory as well.
Stay tuned for the nominees and awards over the next few weeks.