Even as 2022 was a great season for the Cleveland Guardians, their future looks brighter all the time. Nobody has more ready-soon, major-league-level starting pitchers in their system, which is a nice fit because you could make a case that nobody is better at developing pitchers, particularly in the early stages of their major league careers. 

 

1. RHP Daniel Espino | 22 | AA | 2024

Injuries kept Espino sidelined for much of 2022, but he was around long enough to leave a loud impression, striking out 35 batters in 18.1 Double-A innings and posting a 0.71 WHIP across those four starts. He’s listed at 6’2” 225 lbs and looks like a bodybuilder. Upside is as high as any pitcher in the minors thanks to an 80-grade fastball and double-plus slider. I’ve got 2024 listed as the ETA just because he hasn’t thrown that many innings, and the team is deep in pitchers both in the majors and on the cusp, but Espino could almost certainly help the major league club this season if he’s healthy.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I try to take a fairly simplistic view of the draft. My mind resists at times because the Major League Baseball Draft is an exercise in antitrust-exemption hyper-capitalism run amok, spotlighting primarily the lucky few blessed with generational gifts of wealth and circumstance along with their considerable physical skills. It’s a barefaced look at how structures that appear to be egalitarian in their theoretical bones are anything but in practice.   

Whoops, I did it again. Got lost in the games. Keep It Simple, Guy.

Reset: it’s about the organizations as much as it is about the players. You’ll see Jackson Holliday third here even though I like Elijah Green more as a player because I think the Orioles are doing well when it comes to communicating with their young players and aiding their development. No knock on the Nats, who have developed some hitters of their own, but Elijah Green brings some swing-and-miss risk along with the big power and elite speed, and I can’t remember this team developing someone with that specific hang-up. Plus, I don’t know . . . something about the whole organization feels bad right now. Can’t put my finger on it. Oh yeah, they’re doing this weird dance with Juan Soto a year after giving Trea Turner to the Dodgers to offload Max Scherzer’s contract. Their minor league system is weak, partly because they insisted on major-league-ready players in return for Turner and Scherzer. Their 2021 first round pick Brady House, also a high school hitter, has not played particularly well this year (0 HR, 2 BB, 31 K in his last 20 games before landing on the IL).  

I also like to take my time on stuff like this. Would prefer to see how these guys adapt to the pro game before ranking them for fantasy purposes, but I know some people have drafts that begin immediately after the MLB draft ends, so I burned the midnight oil for the past few weeks in hopes of replicating my best successes from FYPD lists of summers past like CJ Abrams, Corbin Carroll and James Wood.  

Please, blog, may I have some more?

College prospect coverage is officially back like cardigans and leather. Those are hip again, right? This is coming from a guy who had to ask a coworker what it meant last week when she said the staff taco bar was “bussin’, so you’ll have to pardon my mid-life cluelessness. Fortunately, one thing I’m not clueless about is the 2022 college draft class. After posting way-too-early top-10 rankings in September, I have reworked my original top 10 and added five new names to create the first installment in Razzball’s college rankings for the 2022 MLB Draft. As I’ve done here the last two years, I will expand upon this initial top 15 in the months leading up to July, culminating with a Complete College Top 100 prior to draft day. This year’s top 15 features three stud catching prospects, but only three right-handed hitters and three pitchers. It’s a draft class loaded with left-handed and switch-hitting position players, and everyone I’ll go over today should immediately be on your radar in dynasty formats and any league utilizing a first-year player draft. Once you have your lilac cardigan on with some trendy leather pants, click the button below and we’ll get started on the top 15.

Please, blog, may I have some more?