Cleveland Guardians outfielder Steven Kwan was one of the biggest stories from the first few days of the 2022 MLB season.
The former fifth-round pick out of Oregon State reached base safely 15 times in his first four MLB games — leading the league in hits (nine), runs (six), average (.692), on-base percentage (.789) and OPS (.1.789 during that span.
The 15 times Kwan reached base in those four games represented the most for a rookie in MLB history since back in 1901.
Kwan was in no way done Monday against the Cincinnati Reds. In what ended up being a 10-5 Guardians win, the rookie reached base another three times. That included two walks and a single to bring his five-game total to 18. As was the case before, this represents the most times a rookie has reached base in his first five games since at least 1901.
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Who is Cleveland Guardians rookie Steven Kwan?
- A fifth-round pick back in 2018, Kwan played college ball at Oregon State. He’ a native of Los Gatos in Northern California and played baseball at Washington High School in Fremont.
- He helped lead Oregon State to the national championship back in 2018. That season saw Kwan hit .356 with two homers, 41 RBI and a .920 OPS in 66 games.
- Heading into the 2022 season, Kwan ranked as the 15th-best Cleveland Guardians prospect.
He’s also a bit of what we’d call an odd duckling.
Steven Kwan’s path to the majors
Much like most minor leaguers of his ilk, Kwan’s road to the big league club was complicated by the fact that the 2020 MILB season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He began his minor league carer playing for two different low-level Guardians’ affiliates — hitting .346 in 17 games back in 2018. The following year saw Kwan play high single-a ball in Lynchburg. He hit .280 with a .353 on-base percentage in 2019. However, it was tshe 2021 seaon that saw him break out big time.
- Steven Kwan stats (2021): .328 average, 12 homers, 44 RBI, .407 on-base percentage
That season saw Kwan record 36 walks while striking out 31 times — leading to a belief that he could end up being a top of the order bat for the Guardians. It’s this ability to make contact that defined his scouting report from MLB.com heading into the 2022 MLB season.
“Kwan has elite contact skills, the product of a short left-handed swing, uncanny hand-eye coordination and a disciplined approach. He added a more pronounced leg kick in 2021 and began pulling more pitches and hitting them harder, and his 12 homers last year doubled his total from three years in college plus his first two in the Minors.”MLB.com scouting report on Steven Kwan
As the Guardians’ brass looks to prove to fans in Cleveland that it’s committed to winning moving forward, Kwan will now be one of the central figures in the team’s return to relevance. His ability to get on base and make contact will continue to set the table for the likes of the recently-extended Jose Ramirez moving forward.
While Cleveland does have a deep farm system, it will need players like Steven Kwan to continue making an impact if the team wants to compete in the American League Central moving forward. Sure Kwan won’t keep up this pace moving forward, but everything seems to be set up well for continued success.
It should be fun to watch as the calendar turns to the summer in Cleveland and the team’s young stars shine bright in the Ohio sun.