The 2024 MLB Draft

MLB Draft 2024 Analysis: Who Do The Cleveland Guardians Take At No. 1?

MLB Draft 2024 Analysis: Who Do The Cleveland Guardians Take At No. 1?

The Cleveland Guardians have Jose Ramirez and a young pitching staff, but the offense is lacking. Who will Cleveland take at No.1 in the 2024 MLB Draft?

Jan 17, 2024 by Joe Harrington
MLB Draft 2024 Analysis: Who Do The Cleveland Guardians Take At No. 1?

The Cleveland Guardians didn’t earn the No.1 pick in the 2024 MLB Draft. That is to say, Cleveland wasn’t that bad. 

The Guardians weren’t good in 2023, but they had their reasons. 

Finishing 10 games under .500, Cleveland was one of the more disappointing teams in all of baseball, after its young roster had a breakout, 92-win season in 2022. 

The Guardians signed Josh Bell to a contract to fix their slugging. They signed their young star Andres Gimenez to a big extension just before the season started. Triston McKenzie looked like the next pitching star for Cleveland. They still had Jose Ramirez and Shane Bieber. 

Cleveland entered the 2023 with reasonable World Series expectations, not just playoff expectations. 

Unfortunately, Bell’s 2022 Silver Slugger season didn’t come with him to Cleveland (it did to Miami after Cleveland traded him). 

Gimenez, then just 24, underperformed after the $106 million extension. 

Ramirez still was one of the best players in all of baseball, but Bieber battled injuries, once again. McKenzie made just four stars because of injuries. 

Some Cleveland fans bristled when the team was labeled as a disappointment. 

Do injuries make the season outcome disappointing? 

It’s not like the Guardians were the Oakland A’s, and the team wasn’t eliminated from the postseason until Sept. 22 – thanks to a very weak American League Central. 

Cleveland didn’t trade Bieber, despite what baseball roster building 101 says. The Guardians even added pieces in September to try to make the playoffs (Lucas Giolito and relievers Reynaldo Lopez and Matt Moore).

They have a new manager in Stephen Vogt, who replaces the legendary Terry Francona. Vogt is former longtime MLB catcher. 

No, the Guardians didn’t earn the No.1 pick by being incredibly bad. They surprisingly won the top pick and now have a choice to make. 

Here’s a breakdown of Cleveland’s draft position:

What The Cleveland Guardians Roster Has Before The 2024 MLB Draft 

Cleveland has one of the 10, possibly five, best players in the game in Ramirez. He hit .282 with 24 home runs and 80 RBIs and added 28 stolen bases. He had a WAR of 5.1– he has a career WAR of 45.6. 

At 31, Ramirez is on a path to the hall of fame and in the middle of his prime. He’s also signed through 2028 with his annual value not surpassing $20 million until 2026. 

He’s not going anywhere. That’s a great building block. 

The pitching is talented and young. 

McKenzie battled injuries in 2023, but he was a stud in 2022, with a 2.96 ERA and 190 strikeouts in 30 starts and 191 1/3 innings. This is his age-26 season, and he’s under team control until 2027. 

Behind him is Tanner Bibee, who made his MLB debut in 2023, along with Gavin Williams and Logan Allen. 

Bibee had a 2.98 ERA in 25 starts and 143 innings. Williams had a 3.29 ERA in 82 innings. Allen had a 3.98 ERA in 125 1/3 innings. Those four make the future of Guardians pitching very bright. 

It’s also why:

  • Keeping Shane Bieber makes sense, as he'll be the sage 29-year-old veteran pitching in an important contract year.
  • Trading Shane Bieber makes sense because he’ll be a free agent after 2024.  

The Guardians seem intent in keeping him, according to recent reports to start the season. 

If Bieber is healthy, which likely is keeping his trade value down, as the 2023 elbow injury may be a precursor to Tommy John surgery, the Guardians can win the American League and be a damn scary team in the playoffs. 

The bullpen is stacked with Emmanuel Clase and James Karinchak, among others. 

The outfield has a fan favorite and rising player in Steven Kwan, who hit .268 with 171 hits, second only to Ramirez, with 36 doubles and 21 steals. 

Bo Naylor and Josh Naylor, who are brothers, are at catcher and first base. 

Josh Naylor had a great season for Cleveland with a .308 average, 17 home runs and a team-high 97 RBIs. 

His brother is a big-time prospect, and the 23-year-old played his first full season in 2023. Results were mixed with a .237 average and just 11 home runs and 32 RBIs. 

Cleveland Guardians Prospects And Minor League System 

Down on the farm, top prospect Brayan Rocchio (pictured) debuted in 2023 and had 81 at bats. The 23-year-old shortstop likely will be the starter on Opening Day.

The No.2 prospect is Kyle Manzardo, who will compete for an Opening Day roster spot. 

He is the No. 58-ranked prospect in baseball, whom Cleveland traded to Tampa Bay straight up for Aaron Civale. 

No. 5 prospect, outfielder George Valera, is expected to debut this season, as is
Daniel Espino, the No.3 prospect.

Who Are The Cleveland Guardians Taking With The No.1 MLB Draft Pick?

Normally, looking at recent team stats and trying to figure out who a team will take in the MLB Draft is just silly. 

A high school pick isn’t likely to be on the team for four years, three if you’re lucky. A top college draft pick could take two years before he debuts. 

In that time, a team could be rebuilding, then compete and then rebuild again (see 2017 No. 2 pick Hunter Greene of the Cincinnati Reds). 

But given the top two prospects in the draft being advanced college hitters, and one even being a first basemen, it’s easy to see either one moving through the system quickly, just like the top two picks in 2023 are likely to do. 

The Guardians’ biggest issue the last few seasons, probably since trading Francisco Lindor after the 2020 season, but maybe even while Lindor was in Cleveland, has been on offense. The pitching almost always has been there for the last decade. 

When Vogt steps in as the team's manager this season, he'll have some work to do.

His No.2 job this season, his first being the management of the young pitchers, is producing runs. 

Cleveland was 27th in runs scored and last in home runs with just 124. That’s 183 fewer dingers than the No.1 team, the Atlanta Braves. Cleveland was No. 23 in on-base percentage, 29th in slugging and 27 in OPS. 

It’s unlikely that Nick Kurtz or JJ Wetherholt will impact this year’s team, but it’s possible the young players on Cleveland's roster could start hitting better. 

It seems like if there ever were a team that could take a first baseman No.1, it’s Cleveland with Kurtz, who is the a perfect fit for them and what they need. Josh Naylor could always just DH, or Kurtz could transition to the outfield. 

Also, a first baseman taken in the first round in 2023, Nolan Schanuel by the Angels, made his debut a few weeks after the draft. He hit .275 in 109 at-bats. 

How Many First-Round Picks Does Cleveland Have 

Here are Cleveland’s first-round picks: 

  • No.1 
  • No. 36- Competitive Balance Pick

Cleveland’s second-round picks revert to their actual record finish, meaning instead of having the No. 40 pick in the second round, the Guardians will pick at No. 48 in the second round. 

The Guardians also will draft at No. 86 in the third round, giving them three picks in the top 100. 

Could Cleveland Earn A Prospect Promotion Incentive Pick In 2025?

Rocchio (No. 47 prospect at MLB), Manzardo (No. 58), Espino (No. 80) and outfielder Chase DeLauter (No. 85) all would qualify for the Prospect Promotion Incentive Pick, if they are on the 2024 Opening-Day roster and win Rookie of the Year. 

When Is The 2024 MLB Draft?

The 2024 MLB Draft is part of MLB All-Star week and will be in Arlington, Texas, where the World Series champion Texas Rangers are hosting the All-Star Game. 

The All-Star Game is July 16. The official date of the draft has yet to be announced, but the 2023 MLB Draft began the Sunday before the All-Star Game, which was played on Tuesday.  

2024 MLB Draft Order

The New York Mets, New York Yankees and San Diego Padres’ first picks dropped 10 spots because the clubs exceeded the second surcharge threshold of the competitive balance tax by more than $40 million. 

Here’s the order: 

  1. Cleveland Guardians
  2. Cincinnati Reds
  3. Colorado Rockies
  4. Oakland A’s
  5. Chicago White Sox
  6. Kansas City Royals
  7. St. Louis Cardinals 
  8. Los Angeles Angels 
  9. Pittsburgh Pirates
  10. Washington Nationals 
  11. Detroit Tigers
  12. Boston Red Sox
  13. San Francisco Giants
  14. Chicago Cubs
  15. Seattle Mariners
  16. Miami Marlins 
  17. Milwaukee Brewers
  18. Tampa Bay Rays
  19. New York Mets
  20. Toronto Blue Jays
  21. Minnesota Twins
  22. Baltimore Orioles 
  23. Los Angeles Dodgers 
  24. Atlanta Braves 
  25. San Diego Padres 
  26. New York Yankees
  27. Philadelphia Phillies 
  28. Houston Astros 
  29. Arizona Diamondbacks 
  30. Texas Rangers
  31. Arizona Diamondbacks
  32. Baltimore Orioles 
  33. Minnesota Twins
  34. Baltimore Orioles
  35. Arizona Diamondbacks
  36. Cleveland Guardians
  37. Pittsburgh Pirates
  38. Colorado Rockies
  39. Kansas City Royals

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