CLEVELAND – The early part of the Guardians’ offseason was spent figuring out how to navigate adding 11 of their best Minor Leaguers to their 40-man roster. But just because there were some players who were left unprotected prior to the 40-man roster deadline at the end of November doesn’t mean that they won’t have the chance to soon make their big league debuts.
Let’s take a look at three Minor Leaguers to keep a close eye on in 2022 and what could hold each of them back from a promotion:
RHP Daniel Espino
MLB Pipeline ranking: 5
What’s missing? Command
Espino ended his 2021 season in High-A Lake County. Drafted out of high school in 2019, the team knew he’d need some time to establish himself as a professional hurler in its Minor League system. His mid-to-high 90s velocity was intriguing and his effective slider and curveball made it easy to dream about what kind of starter the righty could turn into. Last season, he posted eye-catching strikeout numbers, fanning 152 batters in 91 2/3 frames, while holding opponents to a .192 average in 20 starts between High-A Lake County and Class-A Lynchburg (10 starts with each team). If we’re just looking at those stats, it’s clear that Cleveland’s starting pitching depth is building itself back up throughout all levels of the farm system.
But the problem is Espino still struggles mightily with his command. In those 91 2/3…