The Guardians have several strong arms on the farm.
These arms just have to deliver heat at 95+ MPH and a sinker that vanishes so magically that even Houdini would blush.
Daniel Espino and Gavin Williams are showing signs of becoming Cleveland mainstays, contributing to a strong recent run of excellent pitchers in the red and navy.
Hunter Gaddis, on the other hand?
You might be forgiven if you’ve never heard of him.
He’s currently rated as the no. 33 prospect in Cleveland’s system, according to FanGraphs.
The 24-year-old was taken back in the fifth round of the 2019 Amateur Draft.
Since then, Gaddis has slowly progressed through the Guardians’ system, currently pitching for Double-A Akron RubberDucks.
Here are three things to know about Gaddis:
In a recent outing for the Akron RubberDucks, Gaddis had the best performance of his career.
Gaddis was poetry in motion on the mound, giving up one walk and no hits over six innings on May 20.
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) May 20, 2022
The near-perfect game is nice, but it’s also great to see Gaddis coming into his own.
Over the last two seasons in the minors, Gaddis’ ERA has been 4.16 and 3.83.
But those numbers are also a far cry from the stats Gaddis put up in his first two seasons with Cleveland.
In 2019, Gaddis had an ERA that hovered around 3.00.
It’s possible that number was the result of a small sample size, and Gaddis’ truer form is what he’s thrown lately.
But if Gaddis can recapture some of that earlier form, watch out.
Fortunately for Cleveland, he appears to be (hopefully) on his way.
2. Canton Native
Awfully coincidental that Gaddis is from Canton.
No, not that Canton.
Not the NFL Hall of Fame Canton, which is a skip and a jump away from where the pro team plays in Cleveland.
Gaddis was born in Canton, Georgia.
After a strong high school career, Gaddis decided to stay in the state, playing for the Georgia State Panthers.
Who knows–maybe if Gaddis was born in Canton, Ohio, he would have been an Ohio State Buckeye instead.
3. Starter or Sitter?
So far in the minors, Gaddis has appeared almost entirely as a starter.
The righty has started 38 of his 42 total mound appearances.
But that doesn’t mean he’ll take the mound as a starter for the Guardians any time soon.
At least not according to Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs, who provided the following scouting report:
“[Gaddis] has a viable starter’s four-pitch mix, but the relative stiffness in his delivery, which includes a pretty violent head whack, pushes him to project in a multi-inning relief role.”
An innings-eater is nothing to sneer at.
#Guardians 24yr old RHP prospect Hunter Gaddis with 10 more strikeouts tonight for Akron! Gaddis has an incredible 49 for the month of May 30 coming just in his last 3 starts over just 16.1 innings.
— Guardians Prospective (@CleGuardPro) June 1, 2022
In fact, the Guardians could use some help in that department.
The way the MLB is currently headed, bullpen arms are going to be as important as any, vital to keeping a team in a close game down the stretch.