Juan Brito: Guardians 2023 Minor League Player Of The Year


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Typically, the Guardians’ front office prioritizes flexibility each November, trading away players who would need to occupy a 40-man roster spot or else become Rule 5 draft eligible.

They made an exception for 21-year-old second baseman Juan Brito.

Cleveland traded power-hitting outfielder Nolan Jones to the Rockies last November to acquire Brito, who was coming off a breakthrough season at Low-A Fresno. The Guardians added Brito to the 40-man roster on Nov. 15, 2022.

The switch-hitting infielder split the 2023 season between High-A Lake County and Double-A Akron. In 122 games he hit .273/.375/.439 with 14 home runs and six stolen bases. He ranked third in the Eastern League with a .817 OPS.

“Brito has transitioned well to our organization and has displayed a work ethic and desire to get better every day,” Guardians assistant general manager James Harris said.

Brito appears to be the latest prospect in a crowded field of emerging Guardians middle infielders that includes Gabriel Arias and Tyler Freeman, who debuted in 2022; and Brayan Rocchio and Jose Tena, who made their MLB debuts this season.

Brito could be next. His primary position is second base, but he made more than a dozen starts at third base and shortstop this season.

“In addition, he has added arm strength in season that he will continue to develop during the offseason,” Harris said. “Currently, second base is his best position, but the added arm strength will make him a good option for us at third base as well.”

In addition to his versatility, Brito has nice secondary skills at the plate. He draws walks at a high rate (13.5%), makes a lot of contact (15.7% strikeouts) and shows good power for a young middle infielder.

“As a switch-hitter, he has demonstrated an elite skill to make contact and has shown the ability to hit the ball hard at productive angles,” Harris said. “He is slightly more powerful hitting lefthanded but has improved his swing decisions—and contact is his trademark.”

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