Bryan Lavastida Keeps Getting Better

The Guardians added what is believed to be a club record 11 players to their 40-man roster on Nov. 19 to exempt them from the Rule 5 draft.

Only one was a catcher: 23-year-old Bryan Lavastida, who has made a rapid rise through the organization.

“He’s a cool story. In college, he transitioned from infield to catcher, and he’s made great strides defensively each year,” Guardians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said.

“He’s really good at controlling the strike zone and putting up quality at-bats. We think he can contribute on both sides of the ball.”

Cleveland drafted Lavastida in the 15th round in 2018 out of Hillsborough JC in Tampa. He had a nice offensive season at short-season Mahoning Valley in 2019, but his breakout season occurred in 2021.

He climbed from High-A Lake County to Double-A Akron to, briefly, Triple-A Columbus. In 84 games he hit .289/.380/.456 with nine home runs, 16 stolen bases and an impressive 40 walks and 68 strikeouts.

“Offensively, he’s been super productive since he joined the organization,” Lake County manager Greg DiCenzo said. “He was a really good middle-of-the-order bat for us. Great pitch recognition, and good situational awareness when he’s on the bases.”

Lavastida impressed everyone with his hitting and work ethic.

“He’s an incredibly hard worker,” DiCenzo said. “He plays every game like it’s his last one. He’s the ultimate competitor. Defensively, he’s continued to get better. Our pitchers had a lot of confidence in him when he was behind the dish.”

Akron won the Double-A Northeast title, and in three postseason games Lavastida went 6-for-12 with two doubles, a home run and four RBIs.

“He’s above-average in all areas, and he really understands the game,” DiCenzo said. “He’s continuing to work on his game-calling, and I think he’ll hit for some power because he makes really good swing decisions.”

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