Former 33rd-round Draft pick Schneemann called up to make MLB debut

8:30 PM UTC

CLEVELAND — Daniel Schneemann can’t remember the first time he began dreaming about this day, but he knows it’s been a long time.

Not only has he been through high school and college, but the 27-year-old utility man has waited for this moment since he first became a professional baseball player in 2018, when Cleveland selected him in the 33rd round of the MLB Draft.

He found out on Saturday that his dream was about to come true. And by Sunday, he was penciled into the Guardians starting lineup, hitting eighth and playing second base.

“He’s going to play a big role for us,” Guardians manager Stephen Vogt said. “He’s going to get a lot of playing time.”

The Guardians promoted Schneemann prior to Sunday’s 5-2 loss to the Nationals. To make room for him on the active roster, the team optioned outfielder Johnathan Rodriguez to Triple-A Columbus.

The move raises a handful of questions. Let’s address those.

Why Schneemann?It was only a matter of time before Schneemann got the call.

At the end of Spring Training, when the Guardians had to send him to Minor League camp, they were adamant that they’d see him in the big leagues at some point this season. His defensive versatility was on display in Cactus League play. His bat was impressive. The team just needed to see if that could stick before carrying him on the big league roster.

“He came in, he hit some balls hard and I can’t even remember if they were hits or not, but I was like, ‘man, he’s hitting the ball hard,’” Vogt said. “He did everything we could have asked.”

It carried right into the regular season. Schneemann slashed .294/.428/.556 in 53 games and led Cleveland’s Minor League system in doubles (15), walks (41), extra-base hits (26) and runs scored (39). His 10 homers, .984 OPS and .556 slugging percentage ranked second.

What’s different for Schneemann this year?Vogt explained it: “He made a huge swing adjustment in the offseason to try and impact the ball more. And he’s seeing that. He’s driving the ball all over the field.”

Through 53 games, he’s already hit 10 homers. Last year, he hit 13 in 114 Triple-A Games. He hit six in 114 games between Double-A and Triple-A in ‘22.

“Just trying to elevate the ball,” Schneemann said. “Barrel the ball in the air has kind of been a lot of the work I had in off season.”

Why was Rodriguez sent down?With Steven Kwan back on the roster, the Guardians are slightly more limited in where they will find at-bats for David Fry. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him get into the right-field mix more often than he has this season on top of getting some time behind the plate. Having Rodriguez in the mix would just further clutter the outfield.

On top of that, Vogt noted that there will be more right-handed pitching coming up in the near future, which would also limit his opportunities to get in the lineup. For a young player, it will benefit him more to get everyday reps at Triple-A Columbus to not lose developmental time.

“I thought [Rodriguez’s] at-bats were really good,” Vogt said. “He didn’t quite get the results, but he’s going to help us.”

What does this mean for Arias?Schneemann is a second baseman, shortstop, third baseman and outfielder, which is exactly what Gabriel Arias brings to the table. Do the Guardians need to have two of the same types of players filling a similar role? Maybe not in the future. For at least Sunday, it made sense that Cleveland would want to have some depth in the infield.

Andrés Giménez reported some soreness — although Vogt wouldn’t specify where — that has kept him out of the starting lineup on Saturday and Sunday. He’s available off the bench for the series finale and is expected to be back in the mix Tuesday after the club’s off-day on Monday. But if the Guardians wanted to stay away from him for another day, having Arias (who got the start at third base to give Ramírez a chance to DH) as a safety net makes sense.

But Arias’ bat has been scuffling this year. He has hit lefties better than he did last year, but he still batted just .205 with a .547 OPS in his first 37 games of the season. If Schneemann sticks in the Majors, maybe the Guardians have to think harder about Arias’ future. For now, both can have a role on the roster.