CLEVELAND, Ohio – Scribbles in my Guardians notebook, including stuff from the minors:
1. Since coming to Cleveland in the Francisco Lindor deal, Amed Rosario has become one of my favorite players. He won me over late in the spring of 2021 when he was asked to play the outfield – leaving his familiar shortstop spot. He’s ended up playing mostly shortstop, but his attitude is commendable. So is his hustle. Along with his friend Jose Ramirez, Rosario runs hard on everything and plays the game with the right spirit.
2. A year ago, Rosario started slow and caught fire in the middle of May. After May 11, 2021, he was a .300 hitter. He finished batting .282 (.730 OPS) with 11 HR, 57 RBI and was 13-of-13 in stolen bases. This season, he was cold along with the weather. I picked that same May 11 date, only in 2022. Since then, he’s batting .301. Overall, he’s up to .270 (.660 OPS) with a homer and 16 RBI. He’s 7-of-8 in stolen bases.
3. Rosario is a player the Guardians could possibly trade. He’s only 26. Andres Gimenez is the shortstop of the future. Defensively, Gimenez is the superior player. But Rosario has been solid this season at short, only two errors in 47 games. The analytics site fangraphs ranks him No. 6 out of 12 starting American League short stops in defense.
4. Cleveland traded Lindor and Carlos Carrasco for Rosario and Gimenez before the 2021 season. Last year was a nightmare for Carrasco (1-5, 6.04 ERA and he battled injuries). He is 7-2 with a 3.93 ERA. A good man having a good year.
5. As for Lindor, his overall stats are OK. He’s batting .243 (.739 OPS) with 10 homers and 49 RBI. Lately, he’s been slumping until driving in four runs Friday night. He hit .282 in April. Since then, he’s a .220 hitter. Since being traded to the Mets, he’s a .234 hitter (.730 OPS). He batted .258 (.750 OPS) in 2020, his final season in Cleveland. He’s not been the same All-Star caliber player for three years. He has nine years and $300 million left on his contract.
6. Then there’s the 23-year-old Gimenez, looking like a young Lindor. He’s batting .309 (.865 OPS) with seven homers and 31 RBI. Manager Terry Francona said Gimenez just needed to stop trying to pull the ball like Ramirez. After Gimenez did that, he thrived. Francona also said Gimenez is one of the few players he’s ever seen who plays second base and shortstop at a very high level. He’s an emerging star and is a wonderful deal for Cleveland – given the ages and contracts of the players involved.
7. The main reason Rosario has not played more outfield is Steven Kwan has claimed left field. Myles Straw patrols center and for now, Oscar Gonzalez is in right. The Guardians also like Richie Palacios in the outfield.
8. Now, the prospect part. Will Brennan is the current version of Kwan, an outfielder who caught the team’s attention in the minors a year ago. The 24-year-old lefty hitting outfielder is batting .327 (.896 OPS) between Class AA and AAA this season. He has five homers and 57 RBI in 56 games. Like Kwan, Brennan was a college player when drafted (Kansas State). He doesn’t strike out often (32 times in 247 plate appearances).
9. Fans have been hearing about George Valera for several years. He’s only 21 and he’s hit some monstrous homers at Class AA Akron. Overall, he’s hitting .292 (.911 OPS) with 11 HR. Since May 1, he’s knocked in 34 runs in 37 games. The lefty hitter with the quick bat could be in the 2023 Cleveland outfield.
10. Fans also have been wanting the Guardians to trade for a catcher. I doubt that will happen, at least for the long term. At Class AA Akron, Bo (brother of Josh) Naylor is hitting .276 (.913 OPS) with six homers and 21 RBI. He’s 22 and was Cleveland’s first-round pick in 2018. Naylor batted only .188 at Akron in 2021, and now is figuring it out. He’s also a good defensive catcher.
11. As you look at the stats for Naylor, Valera and anyone else from the Class AA Eastern League, consider that 10 of 12 teams in that league are batting .237 or less. If you hit well in the Eastern League in your early 20s, you are likely to reach the majors and have some success.
12. Consider these names: Owen Miller, Cal Quantrill, Josh Naylor, Austin Hedges and Gabriel Arias. All those players came to Cleveland from San Diego in the Mike Clevinger deal. But there’s one more! He’s Joey Cantillo, a 22-year-old lefty with a 3-3 record and 2.25 ERA at Class AA Akron. He’s struck out 71 in 48 innings!
13. For Clevinger, he’s pitched only 19 innings (3.79 ERA) for the Padres this season. He missed all of 2021 with Tommy John elbow surgery. This season, he’s had knee and triceps problems. He just came off the disabled list.
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