Photo credit: David Monseur/Accent Images/Courtesy Akron RubberDucks

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 fourth look into the system depth by position is at pitching, arguably the deepest and most successful spot in the system. Last year, we did it by left and right handedness, but it makes more sense to stay with it in terms of just starters. There’s plenty of interesting talent here that made their major league debuts in 2022 and some that will likely be ready to make their debuts in 2023, with some incoming depth below. Every year there’s likely to be a lot of competition for these spots.

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
2022 Cleveland Guardians Top 10 Catching Prospects
2022 Cleveland Guardians Top 10 Corner Infield Prospects

RankAggregate RankingJustin LadaWillie Hood
1Daniel EspinoDaniel EspinoDaniel Espino
2Gavin WilliamsGavin WilliamsGavin Williams
3Tanner BibeeTanner BibeeTanner Bibee
4Cody MorrisCody MorrisLogan Allen
5Logan AllenJoey CantilloJustin Campbell
6Justin CampbellLogan AllenXzavion Curry
7Joey CantilloJustin CampbellJoey Cantillo
8Xzavion CurryXzavion CurryHunter Gaddis
9Hunter GaddisHunter GaddisParker Messick
10Jack LeftwichJack LeftwichJack Leftwich

1. Daniel Espino

Age: 21
T: R
Level:
Double-A
Rule 5 status: 2023
Outlook: Despite only pitching 18 innings in 2022, and they were incredible innings, Espino remains at the top here due to upside on his talent alone and the work ethic and self-awareness he brings. Shoulder injuries are tricky but Cleveland was very cautious with him once the injury hit. A full return to health could mean big things for Espino in 2023.

2. Gavin Williams

Age: 23
T: R
Level: 
Double-A
Rule 5 status: 2024
Outlook: Williams hit the ground running in his pro debut in 2022, showing that the leap he took his final year at ECU was legit and Cleveland’s interest in him was validated. He has a big fastball and three other quality pitches in different levels of refinement right now, but eh could be big league ready in 2023 anyway.

3. Tanner Bibee

Age: 23
T: R
Level: 
Double-A
Rule 5 status: 2024
Outlook: There’s an argument to be made that Bibee belongs over the other two here due to health and polish. He could be big league ready sooner than both. A 2024 40 man deadline is maybe stopping him to not muck up the 40 man too early (more than Cleveland has already done) but Bibee looks like he’ll be ready to be a major league arm at the top or middle of a rotation in short order here.

4. Cody Morris

Age: 26
T: R
Level: 
MLB
Rule 5 status: On-40
Outlook: Morris finally made his debut in 2022, albeit brief. But he also even appeared in two very good playoff innings vs. the Yankees. With health, Morris would have been off of this list a year ago and maybe already a stalwart in Cleveland’s rotation. There’s still a health risk here but the upside is still too good to bump him down now that we’ve seen some m major league results and data.

5. Logan Allen

Age: 24
T: L
Level: 
Triple-A
Rule 5 Status: 2023
Outlook: Allen was pretty much cruising through Double-A to start 2022 and then hit some bumps in Triple-A. He still needs his command, which sort of evaded him early in Triple-A as he made adjustments to hitters and perhaps was also getting used to a more slick baseball in Triple-A, but he he needs that to succeed without premium velocity. He’s still unique enough and should rebound to continue his path to being a mid rotation prospect for the Guardians who could help as soon as 2023.

6. Justin Campbell

Age: 21
T: R
Level: 
Draft (college)
Rule 5 status: 2026
Outlook:  Campbell had an outstanding season at Oklahoma State, has a fastball in the low 90s but has touched the upper 90s, and has a good changeup, curveball and control. He’s a good athlete and the kind of arm Cleveland can typically unlock more from, in terms of possibly sitting higher with his velocity rather an occasionally hitting 97. He could be a good candidate for a fast rising pitching prospect this year.

7. Joey Cantillo

Age: 23 (in a few days)
T: L
Level: 
Double-A
Rule 5 status: On-40
Outlook: After being Rule 5 eligible and left off the 40 man roster a year ago due to an oblique injury that cut into most of his season, Cantillo came back with a strong first half in 2023. He had a shoulder injury in June that eventually ended his season, but when he was healthy he showed big growth in terms of fastball velocity, an improved curve and was missing bats at a high rate. He was still only 22 in 20222 and Cleveland realized that even with the injury again in 2022, he would have been taken in the Rule 5 draft this year and if healthy, he could be ready for help Cleveland in 2023.

8. Xzavion Curry

Age: 24
T: R
Level: 
MLB
Rule 5 status: On-40
Outlook: Somewhat shockingly, Curry made his major league debut in 2022. It wasn’t as if he wasn’t good enough but some injuries and the fact that he made it over Peyton Battenfield, and he made his debut just over ayear after his pro debut (he had his 2019 and 2020 seasons wiped out due to injury/pandemic) and it didn’t take him long to make his debut after that. He has a decent pitch mix and throws strikes. Still unclear if he’ll remain a starter long term but he’s got enough stuff and a track record to keep assuming until Cleveland tries him in another role.

9. Hunter Gaddis

Age: 24
T: R
Level:
 MLB
Rule 5 status: On-40
Outlook: Another surprise debut in 2022. Gaddis upped his game by coming into 2022 throwing a little harder and missing more bats with more power stuff. He had a brief Triple-A settling time before making two spot starts in Cleveland that didn’t go very well. Still, Gaddis now has a slightly better fastball, a change changeup and an improved curveball that gives hi pretty good back end starters potential at least the the next few years.

10. Jack Leftwich

Age: 24
T: R
Level: 
High-A
Rule 5 status: 2024
Outlook:  Letfwich’s debut probably goes a little unnoticed due to age and level. But he went from being kind of an everything man in college in 2021 to being a pretty nifty starter in the minors in 2022. He missed bats consistently and thew more strikes than maybe more anticipated. He did end the year with an elbow issue but his three pitch mix seems to be solid and improving and if his control holds, that makes him worth keeping an eye on to start longer when we maybe had him pegged as a quick moving pen arm right away.


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