When Will Each MLB Team's Top Prospect Make His First All-Star Game?
The 2012 rookie class has plenty of talent.
Yu Darvish, Julio Teheran, Trevor Bauer, Devin Mesoraco, Matt Moore and Jacob Turner are just a few of the names that will likely be called upon to play major roles for their respective teams during the 2012 season. More than a few of them will have a solid chance to make their league's All-Star roster. One or two might even accomplish the feat.
Without a doubt, the majority of the top prospects in baseball will make at least one All-Star game, what with a record 84 players being named to the two teams last year. Some teams and some prospects, however, will not be so lucky.
Some players are just two young, while some are just products of systems that have little to offer the big-leagues.
Either way, here's a rough estimate on when each team's top prospect will make their first All-Star game.
Arizona: Trevor Bauer; 2012
Bauer is in no way guaranteed a spot in the D-backs rotation heading into the 2012 season, but with a strong spring, it might be hard to keep him off the opening day roster.
Once he makes the rotation, all signs point to a dominant debut campaign.
For starters, he's freakishly good. His blazing fastball, multi-faceted collection of breaking pitches and quirky work ethic should allow him to have instant success in the majors, similar to Stephen Strasburg's debut back in 2010.
Bauer should also be a hit with the fans, who no doubt are familiar with the former UCLA ace, who terrorized both the Arizona State and Arizona hitters during his collegiate career.
MLB missed the opportunity to add Strasburg to the All-Star roster back in '09, but there's no way they'll be able to keep Bauer off.
Atlanta: Julio Teheran; 2014
Teheran is the top right-handed pitching prospect in baseball, and it's only a matter of time before he jumps to the front of the Braves big-league rotation.
He spent a few starts there last season (1-1, 5.03), and while he didn't show the same dominating stuff that he did in the minor leagues (15-3, 2.55), there's no doubt he has what it takes to lead an Atlanta rotation that includes some pretty talented pitchers.
Just 21 years old, Teheran will spend whatever-sized chunk of the season that he spends in the majors as one of the league's youngest pitchers.
Give him two or three years and he'll be a perennial All-Star.
Baltimore: Bobby Bundy; 2014
The Orioles drafted Bundy and felt comfortable giving him a big-league contract, due to their belief that he'll be the first high school player from the 2011 draft to reach the majors.
There were those who thought that Bundy was on par with Gerrit Cole and Danny Hultzen when it came to big-league readiness.
Hultzen has a chance to impress scouts with a guaranteed trip to spring training, and Cole has a 100-mph fastball. Pitchers with that capability don't stay in the minors for long.
Bundy doesn't throw quite as hard as Cole, but he's close. His outstanding command is what will allow him to reach the majors by the end of the 2013 season, after easing his way into pro ball with an innings-limit in 2012.
By 2014, his first full season in the American League, he'll be the team's sole All-Star selection.
Boston: Will Middlebrooks; 2016
It took Middlebrooks three years to get the love that he deserved from Red Sox fans and scouts around baseball.
Finally, however, he's close to breaking into the big leagues, coming off a terrific campaign (.302, 18 HR, 80 RBI) at Double-A Portland in 2011 and arguably the finest defensive season of his career.
That's not to say it's going to be easy for him to crack the lineup, with Kevin Youkilis entrenched at third and Adrian Gonzalez at first.
It will take some time, but the 23-year-old with eventually get his chance once to play every day.
Just don't expect stunning numbers once he gets promoted for good and don't expect an All-Star nod for quite some time after that.
Chicago Cubs: Brett Jackson; 2015
It's only been a matter of months, but Theo Epstein has already made several savvy moves that will not only move the Cubs closer to competing this year, but also set them up for a multi-year reign atop the NL Central.
The team's top prospect, outfielder Brett Jackson, will no doubt be a huge part of their plans going forward. Jackson reached Triple-A last season and looked as good as ever, slugging 10 homers in 48 games.
He's got power, speed and could play every outfield spot. He'll likely reach Chicago at some point in 2012, but it will take a few years to establish himself as the top-of-the-lineup threat the Cubs have lacked in recent years.
The year 2015 should see most of the Cubs' top talent in the majors, including Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo and Matt Sczcur.
Teamed with some solid veterans the Cubs will have a very dangerous squad.
Chicago White Sox: Addison Reed; Never
The White Sox have a strange predicament.
They have one of the worst farm systems in baseball. Not only do they lack elite prospect talent, but the top guys that they do have (Addison Reed, Simon Castro and Eduard Escobar) are all close to breaking into the majors.
At the same time, the team has a decent collection of talent at the big-league level. They have a few aging superstars (Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn), a couple of young aces (Gavin Floyd and John Danks) and two potential All-Stars (Dayan Viciedo and Brent Morel).
Reed is their best prospect, but he's likely going to spend the entire 2012 season in the bullpen. That's not an ideal situation.
What's worse is that as good as Reed is, he's still probably the second or third-best reliever on his own team.
Considering the reliability, or lack thereof, of relievers on a year-to-year basis, it's hard to forecast an All-Star nod in Reed's future.
Cincinnati: Devin Mesoraco; 2012
Despite the return of Buster Posey, Cincinnati's young superstar Devin Mesoraco could easily end the year as one of the top two or three offensive catchers in the National League.
A strong start would put him in the running to be one of Cincinnati's representatives at the 2012 All-Star Game in Kansas City.
If he performs at all like he did in the minors in 2011 (.289, 36 doubles, 15 HR, 71 RBI), he'll be an easy choice.
After combining to hit 39 doubles, 18 home runs and 87 RBI in his first three seasons, Mesoraco rapped 61 doubles, slugged 41 homers and drove in 146 the next two.
Cleveland: Francisco Lindor; Never
Lindor was one of the most impressive shortstops to come out of high school in quite some time. Not only did he offer switch-hitting ability, but he was also the top defensive player available.
His defense alone should get him to the big leagues relatively quickly, but he's got two things blocking his path right now. First, there's Asdrubal Cabrera, who had the finest offensive season of any shortstop in baseball in 2011, and who's pretty darn good on defense too.
Lindor could easily move to second base and do incredibly well, however, he's still going to have to hit well in order to reach Cleveland. The switch-hitting aside, Lindor isn't particularly extraordinary from either side and he offers very little power.
It's a safe bet to assume Lindor will reach the majors by 2015, but he'll be in a crowded shortstop crop in the American League, with Jurickson Profar (Texas), Manny Machado (Baltimore) and Nick Franklin (Seattle) also manning the position.
Up against those guys, Lindor doesn't stand a chance.
Colorado: Nolan Arenado; 2014
Arenado had one of the finest offensive seasons of any prospect, at any level, in 2011.
He slugged 20 home runs and drove in a MiLB high 122 runs. He further boosted his stock by having a fantastic campaign in the prospect-heavy Arizona Fall League.
He'll head to Double-A in 2012, after a likely cameo in spring training, and he could be challenging for a spot on the big-league roster come next year.
Arenado has the plate discipline of a five-year veteran, which will suit him well once he's in Colorado for the long haul.
By 2014, he'll be one of the best offensive third baseman in the National League and an easy selection to the NL squad.
Detroit: Jacob Turner; 2014
Like Arenado, Turner should arrive in the majors by the end of the 2012 season, if not sooner. He made his debut last season and earned a second call-up in September. He struggled as hitters got a chance to see some video on him, but there's no doubt he's going to be a fantastic pitcher for a very long time.
Turner won't turn 21 until this May, but he'll be a rotation fixture by 2013, slotting in right behind staff ace Justin Verlander.
By 2014, despite being just 23 years old, Turner should be one of the top No. 2 starters in the American League.
Houston: Jonathan Singleton; 2016
Singleton emerged as the top position prospect in Philly's system, but like so many others who are blocked by superior talent at the same position, he was forced off of first base and into the outfield in a move to increase his versatility.
It was relatively easy then, for the team to part with him when Houston made Hunter Pence available. Now an Astro, Singleton can go back to playing first base without having to worry about being blocked by Ryan Howard. Now all he has to compete with is an underachieving Brett Wallace.
Singleton will spend 2012 in Double-A, and my guess is that he'll need a couple of seasons in Triple-A as well. That puts him on time for a 2015 delivery, at which time he'll only be 23 years old. With his combination of plate discipline and above-average hitting ability, he should be able to make an instant impact.
Kansas City: Bubba Starling; Never
Starling is a sensational athlete and an incredible talent with skills that cover every aspect of the game (hitting, running, fielding, etc.). He's also extremely raw in every one of those aspects, making him one of the most dangerous prospects to project a future for.
The former high-school phenom who garnered scholarship offers from schools across the nation (in three sports) is definitely one of the highest ceiling prospects in the game, but he's clearly five or six years away from making an impact in the majors.
That makes it incredibly hard to project him for All-Star status.
Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout; 2013
Last year was all about Mike Trout reaching the majors. This season will be the year that he finally sticks. And next year will be the one in which he blossoms into a regular All-Star.
Trout has it all. Blinding speed. Incredible base-running instincts. Sensational defensive range.
He's a triples-machine who has shown brief flashes of home run power down at Double-A, and there's no player more exciting currently in the minors.
Trout likely won't crack the big-league roster out of spring camp, but he should end the season in the starting lineup.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Zach Lee; Never
Let's face it. Aside from Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers haven't had the best luck with developing pitchers that they've drafted recently.
Chris Withrow, Allen Webster, Ethan Martin and Rubby de la Rosa have all been hit by inconsistencies or injury.
This makes it all the more difficult to project an All-Star nod in Zach Lee's future. Yes, the right-hander has arguably more potential than any of those other four pitchers, and he certainly has the bank account ($5.25 million signing bonus) to back up the Dodgers belief in him.
Still, as good as Lee looked in the Low-A Midwest League last year, his performance was hardly dominating. Couple that with the fact that he's still a long ways away from the majors, and the inconsistent history of the Dodgers top pitching prospects, and it's unlikely to forecast Lee as a future All-Star.
Miami: Christian Yelich; 2017
The Marlins top prospect, Yelich, had a true breakout season in 2011, which also happened to be his first full season in the minors.
The front office expected him to be a seasoned hitter, but not even they could have foreseen a .312 average, an on-base percentage approaching .400 and a slugging number close to .500. The 19-year old also showed some wheels, swiping 32 bases to go along with his 15 homers and 77 RBI.
Following the natural progression through the minors, Yelich should reach the big leagues by 2015. Give him two years at that level and he should be one of the top young outfielders in the game.
Milwaukee: Wily Peralta; 2015
Peralta could easily step into the Brewers rotation this season and based on the strength of their starting five, which includes Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum and Yovani Gallardo, he could probably win 10-12 games as the team's No. 4 or No. 5 guy.
He likely won't make the Opening Day roster, and there's a good chance that he won't even show up on the active roster until late in the season, however.
For starters, Peralta has only five starts in Triple-A, and as good as he was (2-0, 2.03 ERA), the team would like to see him get some more seasoning there before trying to take on big-league hitters.
Peralta should be a part of the 2013 Opening Day rotation, but by then, the starting five could be dramatically altered, with Greinke hitting free agency. Still, he has enough potential to become an All-Star within two or three years.
Minnesota: Miguel Sano; 2016
Sano has immense potential.
The slugger is continuing to grow into his frame and could look similar to Mike Stanton (6'5'', 235 lbs) by the time he reaches the majors. His power could be similar as well. Sano slugged 20 home runs last season in just 66 games. This season, he should be making the jump to full season ball, putting him on a path that should lead him to Minnesota by 2015 or 2016.
Once he reaches the majors, expect a Mike Stanton-like performance. Lots of home runs, a good deal of strikeouts and a pretty low average.
If Stanton's popularity is any indication, however, it shouldn't be hard for Sano to wiggle his way onto the NL All-Star team.
New York Mets: Zach Wheeler; 2017
Wheeler also had a sensational season in 2011, making the Mets look brilliant for demanding him as the centerpiece of the deal that sent Carlos Beltran to San Francisco.
In six starts after heading East, Wheeler struck out 31 batters in 27 innings and walked just five, posting an even 2.00 ERA. If you take away his first outing as a Met (four innings, four runs), he surrendered only two earned runs.
Wheeler should arrive in the Big Apple by 2014 or 2015 and within a couple of seasons, he should be the ace of the Mets staff.
New York Yankees: Manny Banuelos; 2015
Banuelos is another guy who could probably handle pitching in the big leagues this season, but due to the stacked Yankees rotation, he's going to spend the majority of the season in the minors, barring injury of course.
Banuelos was arguably the best pitcher in the minors last season, given his age. Just 20 years old, the lefty dominated in Double-A, holding hitters to a .263 average and just seven home runs in nearly 100 innings.
He struck out 94 batters and held down a 3.59 ERA. He earned a late-season promotion to Triple-A and looked equally impressive, even tossing a seven-inning, complete-game shutout in the second to last game of the season.
He could realistically reach New York sometime late in 2012 and could have a spot locked into the rotation for next season.
Given two seasons in the rotation he could be an All-Star by 2015.
Oakland: Yoenis Cespedes; 2013
The A's made a big splash inking the Cuban outfielder to a four-year, $36 million deal. Now, they just have to hope that he's advanced enough to open the season in the majors.
Assuming he can and all the scouting reports on him are legit, Cespedes should be an All-Star regular by 2013.
If he isn't, the A's will be quite out of luck.
Philadelphia: Trevor May; Never
May is a perfectly adequate prospect but not exactly the caliber of player that the Phillies are used to having as their top minor leaguer.
As such, I'm not fully convinced by his 2011 breakout season, one in which he struck out more than 200 batters and tossed a career-high 151.1 innings. May has been durable, I'll give him that, making 54 appearances the past two seasons, and there's no doubt he's one of the better strikeout pitchers in the minors, racking up nearly 400 the past two years.
Still, he's had some control issues, and towards the end of last season, he was especially erratic, giving up chunks of runs. He's also 22 years old and has yet to pitch above High-A ball, giving another cause for concern.
Very hard to project May achieving All-Star status someday.
Pittsburgh: Gerrit Cole; 2013
Cole was arguably the most big-league ready pitcher available in the 2011 draft, and there's a chance he could be pitching for the Pirates by midseason.
There's little chance he's not in the rotation next season, and with his combination of velocity and a couple of impressive secondary pitches, he could be an All-Star very quickly.
There's a reason that Cole has often been compared to Stephen Strasburg.
San Diego: Yonder Alonso; 2013
After spending two seasons blocked by Joey Votto in Cincinnati, Alonso was granted a new chance when he was dealt to San Diego in exchange for Mat Latos.
He should be in the team's Opening Day lineup, and there's no doubt he'll be one of the Padre's best offensive options. He hit .330 last year in a 47-game cameo, and I see no reason he couldn't put together a season like the one Eric Hosmer had in 2011.
A season like that could put him on track for an All-Star nod as early as next season.
San Francisco: Gary Brown; 2016
Brown had a tremendous season in 2011, putting up Mike Trout-like numbers in the California League. He'll no doubt experience a bit of a hit in 2012, which he'll likely spend at the Double-A level, just for the sheer fact that his campaign was that good last year.
He hit .336 with 34 doubles, 13 triples, 14 home runs and 80 RBI. He also scored 115 runs and swiped 53 bases. If that wasn't enough, he also racked up 16 assists from center field.
Brown doesn't necessarily have Mike Trout-like potential, but his speed is no doubt better, making him the leadoff hitter the Giants have been searching for for quite some time.
He should arrive late in the 2013 season, and he should be a fixture atop the lineup by 2014.
Seattle: Jesus Montero; 2012
The Mariners tried to pry Montero away from the Yankees a couple of years ago, but they found a better deal from the Rangers and ended up dealing Cliff Lee to Texas instead. They finally got Montero from New York, but it just took a bit longer than they would have liked.
Luckily, Montero is big-league ready and should be in the Mariners Opening Day lineup come April. He's more than good enough to play at an All-Star caliber level as soon as this year, if last year's stats are any indication.
In a brief cameo with New York, spanning 18 games, Montero hit .328 with four homers and 12 RBI. Down in the minors, he was even more impressive, slugging 18 home runs in 109 games.
The catching crop in the American League isn't necessarily top notch, so Montero shouldn't necessarily have a hard time cracking the AL roster.
St. Louis: Shelby Miller; 2014
Miller has one of the best fastballs to come through the Cardinals system in quite some time, and it won't be long before he's throwing bullets in the big-leagues.
Miller was named the organization's pitcher of the year in both 2010 and 2011 and is one of the top right-handed pitchers in the game. His incredible poise, and his blazing fastball, has allowed Miller to rocket all the way to Double-A in just two full seasons.
He could reach St. Louis by the middle of the 2012 season and could be the team's top pitcher by 2014—an impressive feat considering Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Jaime Garcia occupy the top three spots in the Cardinals' rotation.
Tampa Bay: Matt Moore; 2012
Moore is probably the only prospect on this list who is so good that it's hard to imagine him not making the American League All-Star team this season.
Yes, he's still probably the second or third-best pitcher on his own team, but pitching out of the fourth or fifth slot should allow him to face inferior competition pretty much every time he takes the mound.
He could have ten victories by the break and combined with the high strikeout numbers that will inevitably come with those wins he could be a shoo-in for the AL squad.
Texas: Yu Darvish; 2013
As good as Darvish appears to be, I'm guessing it will take at least a season for him to adjust to life in the big leagues.
Even if he struggles, however, he's going to be immensely talented, and he's got at least two or three, maybe even more, All-Star games in his future.
He has the stuff and the personality to become a very popular big-leaguer, and despite the fact that pitchers are not voted onto the All-Star team, the manager of next year's game will do the logical thing and include him on the 2013 roster.
Toronto: Travis D'Arnaud; 2015
The catching crop in the American League isn't especially intimidating, especially when it comes to offense.
As such, d'Arnaud shouldn't have a terribly hard time cracking the league's All-Star roster. It won't happen right away though.
The 22-year old should arrive in Triple-A this season and could join the big-league club as early as September of this year. Still, the team has two catchers (Jeff Mathis and J.P. Arencibia) on the big-league roster that he would have to leap-frog in order to lay claim to the starting gig.
By 2015, Mathis should be gone and Arencibia likely moved to another position, either designated hitter or first base.
Washington: Bryce Harper; 2013
Keeping Harper out of the big leagues this season will be incredibly difficult.
Keeping him off the NL All-Star team next season will be even tougher.
Especially with Washington D.C. being one of two locations being considered for the honor of hosting the event (New York is the other).
Even if New York wins out, which MLB.com has already reported, the Big Apple would be the perfect place for Harper to be introduced to the general baseball world.