The Cleveland Guardians head into 2022 with question marks at both the infield and outfield positions. They are expected to add payroll and make some moves after the current owners lockout is lifted.
There are a handful of prospects on the cusp of making an impact at the major league level who were added to the Guardians 40-man roster. Let's take a look at five of them you could see in Cleveland in 2022:
IF/OF - Richie Palacios: .297, 33 2B, 4 3B, 7 HR, 48 RBI, 58 BB, 20 SB, .874 OPS
Richie Palacios entered the 2021 season having not played an inning since the 2018 season. He missed 2019 due to injury and 2020 due to the cancellation of the minor league season caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The 24-year old former 3rd round pick did not miss a beat in 2021. The aggressive swinger combined to hit .297 between AA Akron and AAA Columbus. After starting his minor league career on the infield Palacios logged 25 games in the outfield. He also played exclusively in the outfield in the Arizona Fall League. The outfield could be Palacios quickest route to Cleveland as the Guardians currently only have centerfield locked down in 2022 with Myles Straw.
OF - Steven Kwan: .328, 15 2B, 4 3B, 12 HR, 44 RBI, 36 BB, .407 OBP, .527 SLG, .934 OPS
Steven Kwan may be the most under the radar prospect with a legitimate shot to end up in Cleveland sometime in 2022. The 24-year old outfielder has done nothing but hit in his three years in the Guardians system posting a career .301 average. In 2021 Kwan hit .337 with AA Akron and .311 with AAA Columbus. Kwan makes good contact having stuck out only 31 times in 296 at bats this past season, He also showed some pop with 12 HR's (7 in AA & 5 in AAA). He could help fill one of the corner outfield positions with the Guardians in 2022.
IF - Gabriel Arias: .284, 29 2B, 3 3B, 13 HR, 55 RBI, 39 BB, .348 OBP, .454 SLG, .802 OPS
There will be competition with the Guardians at both second base and shortstop on 2022 and Arias figures to be right in the middle of that competition. The former San Diego Padres top 10 prospect spent the whole 2021 season at AAA Columbus logging the majority of his time at shortstop. The 21-year old is a superb defender at the shortstop position and has some big time offensive potential. He could end up winning the second base or shortstop position with the Guardians out of spring training.
SP - Cody Morris: 2-2, 1.62, 61 IP, 41 H, 20 BB, 93 K, .189 AVG
Cody Morris is a pitching prospect many Guardians fans may not know much about after missing the first few months of 2021 with shoulder soreness. Once he returned in June Morris dominated at the AA & AAA levels. The 6'4" 25-year old right hander is ready to make his mark in the Guardians rotation. He possesses a fastball that tops out in the upper 90's and a devastating changeup. He posted 93 K's in 61 IP good for a 13.72 K/9 rate. If the Guardians choose to trade a starter such as Zach Plesac to fill other needs, Morris could be the next man up to the Cleveland rotation.
SP - Tobias Myers: 8-7, 3.90, 117.2 IP, 101 H, 28 BB, 146 K, .228 AVG
In their first offseason move the Guardians acquired Myers from the Tampa Bay Rays on November 19th in exchange for infield prospect Junior Caminero. Myers spent 2021 split between the Rays AA & AAA teams. He started 22 of the 25 games he pitched. The 23-year old right-hander has a fastball that tops out in the mid 90's and also adds a curveball, slider changeup to his repertoire. He has good command and stays around the plate averaging only 2.14 BB/9 in 2021. Myers could help the Guardians in either the rotation or bullpen in 2022.
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