Joey Cantillo Bolsters Guardians’ Pitching Stockpile

In August 2020, the Guardians traded Mike Clevinger to the Padres for six players. Three of them became Guardians fixtures: righthander Cal Quantrill, catcher Austin Hedges and first baseman Josh Naylor.

Two others—middle infielders Gabriel Arias and Owen Miller—have been used in utility roles.

The sixth player was lefthander Joey Cantillo, who could make his MLB debut in 2023.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Cantillo was in the midst of a breakout season at Double-A Akron when a shoulder issue ended his season after his July 30 start.

In the Eastern League, Cantillo recorded a 1.93 ERA in 14 appearances while striking out 87 and walking 28 in 60.2 innings. 

“Joey could have pitched at the end of the year, but we were very conservative with him,” Guardians assistant general manager James Harris said. “We continued to ramp him up while we were playing in the playoffs, and anticipate that he will be fully healthy in 2023.”

Cantillo relies mostly on his low-to-mid-90s fastball and a changeup. He’ll also mix in a slider and occasional curveball. At Akron, he generated swings and misses while also inducing weak contact.

The 22-year-old Cantillo was drafted by the Padres in the 16th round in 2017 out of high school in Hawaii. Prior to his shoulder injury, Cantillo posted a 1.09 WHIP for Akron and held opposing batters to a .178 average.

“We are excited about the year that Joey had for us. He added velo last offseason, and maintained it in 2022,” Harris said.

Cantillo could start at either Akron or Triple-A Columbus in 2023. That he is lefthanded might work in his favor, because Cleveland hasn’t had a southpaw start 20 or more games in a season since Scott Kazmir in 2013.

“Joey is one of the most disciplined players in our organization and is a great teammate,” Harris said. “He cares deeply about helping us win.”

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