The Cleveland Guardians got some good news following the release of The Athletic’s Top 100 MLB prospect list, written by Keith Law.
Two players, Brayan Rocchio and George Valera made the top 30, signaling that some help at spots other than pitchers are coming through the minors.
Law’s breakdown (subscription required) of Valera really caught my attention, because he wrote there’s an “Electricity” to the way he plays the game. And he plays outfield. The Guardians really, really, really need to fix the corner outfield spots.
Unfortunately, it won’t be with Valera, who needs more time in the minors.
Law kept the prospect train rolling after his piece, by naming a handful of players who shouldn’t be disregarded just because they didn’t make his top 100 list.
One of those was a Guardian: Outfielder Steven Kwan.
Kwan’s already competed in the upper levels of the minors and may be the outfield prospect who’s most likely ready to complete for playing time in 2022.
"“…You won’t find many 5-9 left fielders of any sort in the majors…Kwan does hit, though, and hit, and hit, going .328./.407/.527 last year between Doube A and Triple A at age 23. I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t hit enough to be at least a fringe regular, though, and his upside is someone who challenges for the league lead in batting average.”"
No pressure, Steven.
If Steven Kwan can be Michael Brantley for Cleveland Guardians, that’d be great
Hopefully, Kwan could be the answer the organization has been looking for ever since losing Michael Brantley to free agency, but that’s a lot of expectations to place on him.
Even if he doesn’t become Brantley, hopefully he become someone like Brantley, meaning, he’s capable of making good contract and putting the ball in play.
Brantley, for what it’s worth, was the throw-in prospect for C.C. Sabathia. He now contends for batting titles, finishing second with the Astros last season. He has six seasons of finishing in the top 10. Man, if he was playing in 2016….
Kwan should see big playing time in Spring Training, and Cleveland.com’s Terry Pluto wrote that he’s a contender to be in Progressive Field by summer time.
Kwan has 947 minor-league plate appearances under his belt, in addition to playing three years of college ball. I’d agree with Pluto, that if he continues to perform with Clippers, we should get a look at the 2018 fifth-round pick this year.
Assuming Josh Naylor returns healthy in right, with Myles Straw in center, left field is the spot to watch this spring. Oscar Mercado and Bradley Zimmer are still here. I think we know they aren’t long-term answers. We’ll see how it plays out.