Manzardo will be in bigs

Fortunately for the Guardians, they can turn to one of the top performers in Triple-A.
With Steven Kwan and his AL-best .353 batting average headed to the injured list with a strained left hamstring, Cleveland is promoting Kyle Manzardo for his big league debut.
Manzardo hit well in the first two months in Triple-A before slumping in June, then hurt his left shoulder when a runner fell on him during a pickoff play in early July.
“The idea is to keep it as simple as possible,” Manzardo said during his AFL stint.
Not necessarily about trying to hit the ball as hard as I possibly can, but hit the ball pretty hard a lot.” Mission accomplished thus far in 2024.
Manzardo doesn’t provide much value beyond his bat because he’s a well below-average athlete with speed to match.
But Manzardo could push Naylor to DH or take over there himself if Estevan Florial doesn’t step up his production and David Fry cools off.
For now, Manzardo will get some at-bats against right-handers while the Guardians hope Kwan’s absence is short-lived.


The Guardians have access to one of Triple-A’s best players, so what do they do when the American League’s best hitter goes down with a hamstring injury?

Manzardo became the No. 52 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 and second in the first base prospect rankings, has quickly progressed. Slightly scouted and recruited as an Idaho high school student, he went to Washington State and, when he batted .366/, became the Cougars’ first All-American position player since John Olerud 33 years earlier. 437/. 640 by 2021.

Manzardo hit .327/ that June after being selected by the Rays in the second round. 426/. 617 in his first full professional season, moving up to Double-A and finishing third in slugging and second in OPS (1.043) in the Minors. His 2023 campaign wasn’t nearly as successful.

Manzardo performed admirably in his first two months in Triple-A before faltering in June. Early in July, he suffered a left shoulder injury when a runner fell on him during a pickoff play. Tampa Bay traded him for Aaron Civale while he was on the injured list. After having six home runs (not counting two in the playoff semifinal and another in the Fall Stars Game) and playing well in the last month of Triple-A, he finished third in the Arizona Fall League.

Manzardo, who bats left-handed, attempts to keep things simple at the plate. He automatically drives balls in the air, makes excellent swing choices, and has good pitch recognition. He has become more assertive over the past two years, which has given him greater access to his power, which is useful in all areas.

“The goal is to make it as easy as possible,” Manzardo stated in the AFL. “It basically consists of attempting to arrange my schedule so that I can attend as many pitches as possible on time, on a regular basis. It’s not always about trying to hit the ball as hard as I can, but rather hitting it fairly hard quite a bit. “.

Mission completed as of 2024. Manzardo ranks second among Triple-A hitters with 100 trips to the plate in barrels/plate appearance (15 percent) and third in barrels/batted ball (20 percent) when it comes to barrels (balls hit with exit velocity and launch angle that lead to an expected .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage). Now batting .303/, he has hit a home run in four of his last seven games. 375/. 642 in 29 games with nine explosions.

Manzardo is a far below-average athlete with matched speed, so his value as a bat is pretty limited. Even with his improved conditioning and agility since going pro, he’s still merely a passable defender at first base with a flimsy arm. He can’t play anywhere else on the field because of his poor movement.

Josh Naylor’s place in the starting lineup is assured because he has led Cleveland in slugging the past two seasons. Nevertheless, if David Fry cools off and Estevan Florial doesn’t pick up the production, Manzardo might move Naylor to DH or even take over there.

While the Guardians hope Kwan’s absence is brief, Manzardo will bat against right-handers for the time being. Manzardo has the potential to be a .280- because of his potent hitting ability, bat speed, strength, and approach. At his peak, he was a 300 hitter who hit 25 home runs every season.

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