Photo credit: Jay Gehres/Courtesy Columbus Clippers

It’s time again to start the exercise of looking at each position in the Cleveland Guardians farm system and ranking the prospects by position to get a jump start on the next season’s rankings. It’s not an exact science but it’s a good thought experiment and debate to see where we think the best prospects in the system rank by position. Our second look at the position group looks at catcher, where things are, pretty rough for Cleveland. They tried to swing a trade for Sean Murphy despite Bo Naylor’s presence and rebound in 2022, showing they were looking for a serious long term solution at the position because below their top three options, things are incredibly thin and right now a lot is up in the air.

Last year’s list included graduates of Steven Kwan, Richie Palacios, Will Benson and Oscar Gonzalez. It also included Micah Pries, who you’ll now see in the first base section, though he could still play the outfield. Nolan Jones also would have been a graduate too before he was traded.

2021 Top 10 Rankings by Position

2021 Cleveland Guardians top 10 catching prospects

2021 Cleveland Guardians top 10 relief pitching 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
2021 Cleveland Guardians top 10 corner infield prospects
2021 Cleveland Guardians top 10 middle infield prospects
2021 Cleveland Guardians top 10 corner outfield prospects
2021 Cleveland Guardians Top 10 Outfield Prospects

2022 Top 10 Rankings by Position

2022 Cleveland Guardians Top 10 Outfield Prospects

RankAggregate RankingJustin LadaWillie Hood
1Bo NaylorBo NaylorBo Naylor
2Bryan LavastidaBryan LavastidaBryan Lavastida
3Jose CedenoJose CedenoManuel Mejias
4Manuel MejiasManuel MejiasJose Cedeno
5Victor IzturisVictor IzturisVictor Izturis
6Robert LopezMichael BerglundRobert Lopez
7Emilio TaverasRobert LopezEmilio Taveras
8Michael BerglundEmilio TaverasRichard Paz
9Richard PazLogun ClarkVictor Planchart
10Logun ClarkRichard PazJoe Donovan

1. Bo Naylor

Age: 22
B/T: L/R
Level: 
MLB
Rule 5 status: On-40
Outlook: Naylor was still #1 in 2021 despite his down season because nobody in the system had his upside and that remains true in 2022 after he rebounded in a big way. He got back to being the bat and player Cleveland and everyone thought he could be, and he now looks like the future at catcher for the Guardians. How soon will be the question.

2. Bryan Lavastida

Age: 23
B/T: R/R
Level: 
MLB
Rule 5 status: On-40
Outlook: Lavastida made his debut in 2022 somewhat unexpectedly and maybe before he or Cleveland thought he was ready, but due to their 40 man constraints to start the year and injuries, Lavastida started the season as the backup. He struggled in the majors, struggled when he got back to the minors when Luke Maile came back and then he hurt his hamstring. He started to pick things up a little more at the end of the year and his bat and defense should still give him a chance to be a good backup catcher. And his spot at #2 says a lot about the catching situation in the system.

3. Jose Cedeno

Age: 18
B/T: L/R
Level: 
DSL Complex
Rule 5 status: 2026
Outlook: Probably purely based on stats/limited video and reports right now, Cedeno is a short levered left handed hitting catcher who threw out 31% of runners who attempted a steal, makes a lot contact and put up good numbers in the DSL, for what that’s worth. We’re going with upside here at a shallow position.

4. Manuel Mejias

Age:18
B/T: S/R
Level: 
ACL Complex
Outlook: Another short switch hitter that made a lot of contact who we are banking on any kind of upside with this profile over a lot of other good options here.

5. Victor Izturis

Age: 17
B/T: L/R
Level: 
ACL Complex
Outlook:
 Sensing a theme here? This system lacks catchers with tangible major league upside, or even much of a floor, so we’re going with potential solutions in these rankings. Izturis is another left handed catcher who makes a lot of contact and has major league bloodlines (Cesar Izturis).

6. Robert Lopez

Age: 19
B/T: L/R
Level: 
ACL Complex
Outlook: Lopez was #3 on this list last year but he has yet to show much with the bat despite upside potential. He did throw out 25% of runners last year at least.

7. Emilio Tavares

Age: 20
B/T: R/R
Level: 
DSL Complex
Outlook: Despite some assumed upside and tools, Tavares hasn’t hit a ton since making his debut and he’s now 20 and has never gotten out of the complex leagues. Perhaps that changes in 2023 will get him a shot in Low-A finally.

8. Michael Berglund

Age: 25
B/T: L/R
Level:
 Triple-A
Rule 5 status: Eligible
Outlook: Cleveland picked up Michael Berglund from the Rays in the minor league portion of the 2022 Rule 5 draft. He’s got a big arm and drew walks in the minors last year, perhaps somewhat too passive than anything else. He may be the third best catcher in this organization in terms of defense and readiness, which again, shows the weak depth a this position.

9. Richard Paz

Age:21
B/T: L/R
Level: 
Single-A
Outlook: In the past, Paz has ranked a lot higher because of his youth, but despite another rough offensive season at Low-A and he’s now 21, so it won’t get any easier as he moves up. He maintained throwing out runners well on the bases, and thus will keep getting chances.

10. Emilio Tavares

Age: 19
B/T: R/9
Level: 
DSL
Outlook: Taveres has also been higher in the past with good size but he is 19 and is yet to get out of the DSL complex. He still has upside and this is again, a weak position and we’re hoping for some of these international catcher break out and soon.


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