CLEVELAND — On Tuesday, MLB.com released its updated rankings of the league's minor league farm systems. And the new list included an encouraging sign for the Cleveland Guardians.
After entering the season with baseball's 12th-ranked farm system, the Guardians now rank third, trailing only the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers. Meanwhile, the website's list of top 100 prospects now includes five players from Cleveland, including:
- Right-handed pitcher Daniel Espino (No. 16)
- Outfielder George Valera (No. 32)
- Right-handed pitcher Gavin Williams (No. 56)
- Shortstop/second baseman Brayan Rocchio (No. 72)
- Catcher Bo Naylor (No. 78)
Writes MLB.com's Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo and Sam Dykstra of the Guardians' system: "The Guardians excel at signing talented young hitters and helping pitchers take their stuff to another level. José Ramírez and Shane Bieber are the best big league examples, and all five of their Top 100 Prospects fall into one of those two categories. The system should make a huge impact in Cleveland shortly, with 13 of its 15 best prospects having reached Double-A or higher."
As noted, it shouldn't be long until the Guardians' talent-rich minor league system makes an impact at the big-league level. In fact, three of Cleveland's top 11 prospects -- outfielder Nolan Jones (No. 6), and infielders Tyler Freeman (No. 10) and Gabriel Arias (No. 11) -- have made their Major League debuts this past season.
As for the rest of the Guardians' prospects, Naylor -- the younger brother of Cleveland first baseman Josh Naylor -- is also likely nearing a big league debut and could conceivably be the team's Opening Day catcher in 2023. It also wouldn't be a surprise to see Espino, Valera and Rocchio each make their respective debuts for the Guardians between now and this time next year.
Not bad for a team that's also currently in first place of the American League Central Division.