Why He’s Interesting: Steven Kwan made his major-league baseball debut this spring after only 21 games at Triple-A, the top minor-league level, and became a breakout Guardians star. He won a Gold Glove in left field, the first Cleveland rookie to do so since Sandy Alomar Jr. in 1990 and was a finalist for American League Rookie of the Year.
A Rough Patch: After a history-making April, Kwan fell to earth with a thud, hitting .173 in May. “You start to think, Maybe that first month was a fluke, and I’m finally getting exposed."
Getting Back on Track: Kwan was able to center himself, thanks to some advice from teammate Austin Hedges. “He said, ‘You showed what you can do in April. You can play at this level. Your skills haven’t changed, and you’ll be fine.’ I think the biggest thing I needed to hear was that things were going to be OK.”
Big Hits: Kwan hit a grand slam in a win against the Texas Rangers to clinch the division title, but two back-to-back nights stand out to him: a game-winner by Josh Naylor and then a walkoff by Andrés Giménez, both against the Chicago White Sox. “It was a team we needed wins against, and we battled back. It was storybook stuff. The kind of stuff you think about when you’re 10 years old.”
Becoming a Mentor: Seventeen Guardians players made major-league debuts this year, the most for the team in a century. Kwan became a leader in the clubhouse. “I’d played with most of them in the minors, but the older guys said, 'Hey, Kwan, you’re still a rookie, but you’re less of a rookie than they are.’”