Every MLB Team's Best Current Home-Grown Player

Pete SchauerCorrespondent IMay 25, 2012

Every MLB Team's Best Current Home-Grown Player

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    Homegrown talent isn't necessarily a thing of the past in Major League Baseball.

    There's something about a player who gets drafted by a team, grinds it out in the minors for that team, and then finally makes it to the big leagues representing the team that believed in him from the start.

    It's about the journey from draft day to MLB debut day.

    If you think homegrown players are a lost art in MLB then you better think again.

    Here are the best homegrown guys on each MLB team:

Arizona Diamondbacks: Justin Upton

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    It hardly took Justin Upton two years to reach the big leagues for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    Drafted in the first round of the 2005 draft, Upton made his MLB debut in August of 2007, where he would remain a staple in the D-Backs outfield.

    While we've seen Upton play very well—especially in 2009 and 2011—he has the potential to be a top outfielder in the MLB.

    He's a two-time All-Star who sports a career OBP of .357.

Atlanta Braves: Brian McCann

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    Born in Georgia, Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann is truly a homegrown player.

    A second-round pick of the 2002 draft, McCann spent most of his time in Single-A and High-A ball before making quick stops in Double-A and Triple-A until he reached the Braves in June 2005.

    In his first complete season, he hit .333 with 24 homers and 93 RBI, instantly becoming a fan favorite.

    McCann has proven to be on of the top catchers in the MLB throughout his seven-year career, as he's a six-time All-Star and was even voted MVP of the 2010 All-Star Game.

Baltimore Orioles: Matt Wieters

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    As the fifth overall pick of the 2007 draft by the Baltimore Orioles, Matt Wieters had a lot of expectations before he even reached the big leagues.

    As Sports Illustrated described it, Wieters was described as a combination of Joe Mauer and Mark Teixeira.

    Just two years after the draft, Wieters made his debut for the Orioles in 2009, when he posted a .288 average with nine homers and 43 RBI in 96 games.

    While Wieters has yet to show his full potential at the plate—the best full season average Wieters has posted was .262 in 2011—he has been great defensively and is still blossoming before our eyes.

Boston Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia

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    The heart and soul of the Boston Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia, was the second-round pick of the 2004 amateur draft by the Boston Red Sox.

    After quickly advancing through Single- and Double-A, Pedroia spent the majority of his minor league career playing for Triple-A Pawtucket before making his Red Sox debut in August of 2006.

    Since that time, Pedroia has been the leader of Boston, winning the AL Rookie of the Year award in 2007, two Gold Gloves. three All-Star selections and a World Series championship in 2007.

    In six seasons, Pedroia is a career .305 and one of the top second baseman, both defensively and offensively. 

Chicago Cubs: Starlin Castro

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    Starlin Castro burst upon the scene for the Chicago Cubs in 2010 when he hit a three-run homer in his first major league at-bat while setting the record for most RBI in a debut with six.

    Drafted as an amateur free agent in 2006, Castro spent four seasons between Single- and Double-A, until finally reaching the Cubs in May of 2010.

    During his sophomore campaign in 2011, Castro became the youngest player in MLB history to lead the NL in hits.

    His fielding could use a ton of work, as he made 56 errors in his first two seasons.

    He hit over .300 in his first two seasons and is off to another great start here in 2012. 

Chicago White Sox: Alexei Ramirez

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    Alexei Ramirez may wow you with a play in the field every now and then, but other than that, he's been average.

    Acquired as an amateur free agent in 2008, Ramirez has started every season since 2008 and set a record for most grand slams hit by a rookie when he knocked four out with the bases loaded during his rookie campaign.

    He can be erratic in the field at times, as he posted back-to-back 20 error seasons in 2009 and 2010, and made 16 more in 2011.

    Since his rookie season that saw him bat .290 with 21 HR and 77 RBI, Ramirez has yet to surpass any of those numbers.  

Cincinnati Reds: Joey Votto

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    Drafted by the Cincinnati Reds as a second-round pick in the 2002 draft, it took first baseman Joey Votto five years to reach the majors.

    When he finally did make his debut on September 4, 2007, Votto was impressive. He hit .321 in 24 games in 2007, and has been a staple at first base ever since.

    He was the 2010 NL MVP for his .324 average, 37 HRs and 113 RBI and has also been selected to two All-Star games.

    Votto is also an excellent defensive first baseman, most evident by his 2011 Gold Glove award.

Cleveland Indians: Vinnie Pestano

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    You may be asking yourself who Vinnie Pestano is.

    Well, had the Indians not lost talent like CC Sabathia, Victor Martinez and Jim Thome, we would be talking about a different guy.

    But for now, Pestano is our guy.

    He was drafted in the 20th round of the 2006 draft and reached the majors in September of 2010.

    As a reliever, Pestano sports a career 2.42 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 93 total games. 

Colorado Rockies: Troy Tulowitzki

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    Aside from his powerful bat at the shortstop position, Troy Tulowitzki boasts a solid glove in the field.

    A first-round pick in the 2005 draft, Tulo was in the big leagues by September 2006, where he appeared in 25 games for the Rockies.

    In his first complete season in 2007, Tulowitzki hit .291 with 24 HR and 99 RBI.

    After a dismal season in 2008, Tulowitzki has now put together three straight seasons of at least 27 homers and 92 RBI.

    To his credit, Tulo has two All-Star selections, two Gold Gloves and hit for the cycle on August 10, 2009.

Detroit Tigers: Justin Verlander

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    Man, are the Detroit Tigers glad they hung onto Justin Verlander?

    The 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young award winner was drafted by Detroit as the second pick of the 2004 draft.

    After making his debut in 2005, Verlander's rookie campaign earned him the AL Rookie of the Year award, when he went 17-9 with a 3.63 ERA in 2006.

    Verlander has since pitched two no-hitters, earned four All-Star appearances and led the AL in strikeouts in two seasons.

    I recently ranked Verlander the No. 1 pitcher in baseball

Houston Astros: Wandy Rodriguez

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    Wandy Rodriguez was acquired by the Houston Astros as an amateur free agent back in 1999.

    Rodriguez spent time in the minors from 2001-2005 before reaching the Astros in '05, when he went 10-10 with a 5.53 ERA.

    In fact, Rodriguez has been average for his entire career, sporting a 77-79 record with a 3.97 ERA.

    The Astros would be a more successful club had they kept their homegrown talent, such as Ben Zobrist, Hunter Pence, Lance Berkman, Bobby Abreau, Johan Santana and Roy Oswalt.

Kansas City Royals: Billy Butler

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    Billy Butler has weathered the storm, playing in Kansas City for the past five seasons since he was taken as the 14th overall pick in the 2004 draft.

    Butler moved through the minors fairly quickly, making his debut with the Royals in May 2007.

    While he has never earned a spot on the AL All-Star squad, Butler has been one of the best producers for Kansas City and was a solid first baseman before moving to the DH position.

    He sports a career .297 average and is off to a hot start in 2012.

Los Angeles Angels: Jered Weaver

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    Jered Weaver's no-hitter on May 2 of this season further cemented him as the Los Angeles Angels' best homegrown player.

    A California native, Weaver was drafted by the Angels in the first round of the 2004 draft and quickly entered the big leagues after roughly two years in the minors.

    Since reaching the big leagues, Weaver has been nothing but solid, boasting a career 88-48 record with a 3.27 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.

    Weaver has been selected to two All-Star games and led the AL in strikeouts in 2010.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Matt Kemp

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    No one had a better start to the 2012 season than Matt Kemp.

    Taken in the sixth round of the 2003 draft, Kemp played in the Los Angeles Dodgers' minor league system from 2003-2006 before making his major league debut on May 28, 2006.

    A career .296 hitter, Kemp has really turned it on over the past two years, as he led the NL in RBI, homers, joined the 30-30 club and was selected to the All-Star game, all in 2011.

    Kemp is also an exceptional defender, as he boasts two Gold Gloves as a center fielder.  

Miami Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton

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    Formally known as Mike Stanton, Giancarlo Stanton was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the second round of the 2007 draft.

    In June 2010, Stanton made the jump from Double-A to the big leagues, hitting 22 homers with a .259 average in 100 games for the Marlins.

    In his first complete season in 2011, Stanton hit .262 with 34 HR and 87 RBI while holding down right field for the Marlins.

    Stanton has yet to be selected to an All-Star game, but he definitely possesses the talent to appear in one very soon. 

Milwaukee Brewers: Ryan Braun

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    As a 2007 Rookie of the Year, 2011 NL MVP and four-time All-Star, Ryan Braun is currently the best homegrown player the Milwaukee Brewers boast.

    Selected as the No. 5 overall pick of the 2005 draft, Braun was in the bigs by May 2007, hitting .324 with 34 HR and 97 RBI, which earned him the ROY award.

    Since 2007, Braun has consistently driven in 100-plus runs every season and has hit at least .300 in four out of five seasons while joining the 30-30 club in 2011.

    He's been on a tear so far this season, hitting .323 with 12 homers and 31 RBI. 

Minnesota Twins: Joe Mauer

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    Like Brian McCann, Joe Mauer is truly a hometown kid.

    Mauer was born and raised in Minnesota and was drafted by the home team as the No. 1 pick of the 2001 draft.

    Aside from being a three-time batting champion and the 2009 AL MVP, Mauer also possesses three Gold Gloves.

    He's a four-time All-Star and boasts a career batting average of .322. 

New York Mets: David Wright

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    Drafted by the New York Mets in the first round of the 2001 amateur draft, David Wright was an instant sensation in Queens.

    He debuted in 2004, playing in 69 games, sporting a .293 average during that time.

    In his first complete season in 2005, Wright hit .306 with 27 HR and 102 RBI, something he would consistently do over the next six seasons.

    Wright is a five-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove winner and the Mets' career RBI, double and total bases leader at the age of 29.

New York Yankees: Mariano Rivera

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    I could have easily listed Derek Jeter, but there's never been a closer in MLB like Mariano Rivera.

    Signed in 1990 by the Yankees as an amateur free agent, Rivera worked his way through New York's minor league system, until he made his debut in 1995.

    Rivera learned the game under John Wetteland until officially becoming the Yankees closer in 1997, a position he has yet to relinquish.

    Rivera is a 12-time All-Star, five-time world champion, a World Series MVP as well as the all-time leader in regular season and postseason saves. 

Oakland Athletics: Jemile Weeks

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    University of Miami alumni Jemile Weeks was drafted as the No. 12 overall pick in the 2008 draft by the Oakland Athletics.

    After moving from Single-A to Triple-A efficiently, Weeks was called up to the A's on June 7, 2011.

    In 97 games last season, Weeks hit .303, scored 50 runs, drove in 36 runs and swiped 22 bags.

    He made 13 errors, which isn't awful for a rookie, but if he wants to become a top second baseman in MLB, he'll need to cut down on the errors and start getting on base.

    He currently posts an OBP of .287 in 2012.  

Philadelphia Phillies: Cole Hamels

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    Ryan Howard boasts many accolades with the Philadelphia Phillies since being drafted by them in the fifth round of the 2001 draft.

    But it's Cole Hamels that I chose for the Phillies best homegrown player. How can you go against a southpaw like Hamels?

    Drafted in the first round of the 2002 draft, Hamels made his debut in May of 2006 and has been a successful hurler ever since.

    The two-time All-Star sports a career 81-55 record and 3.33 ERA and was named NLCS MVP and World Series MVP in 2008 when the Phillies won it all. 

Pittsburgh Pirates: Andrew McCutchen

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    Is there any question who the Pittsburgh Pirates' best homegrown player is?

    Andrew McCutchen was selected as the Pirates' No. 11 overall pick in the 2005 draft.

    After playing in five minor league seasons, McCutchen made his Pirates debut in June 2009, a season that Baseball America voted him Rookie of the Year.

    McCutchen was awarded his first All-Star appearance in 2011, when he hit .259 with 23 homers, 89 RBI, 87 R and 23 SB. 

San Diego Padres: Chase Headley

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    Chase Headley had the most put-outs at third base in 2011 for the San Diego Padres, who drafted him in the second round of he 2005 draft.

    Headley moved through the minors quickly, making debut on June 15, 2007. However, Headley appeared in just eight games in 2007 and was sent back to the minors for a portion of the 2008 season.

    In his first full MLB season in 2009, Headley hit .262/.342/.392 with 12 HR and 64 RBI, also stealing 10 bases.

    Due to injury in 2011, Headley was unable to find his power stroke, but he still managed to set career bests at the plate, hitting .289/.374/.399.

San Francisco Giants: Tim Lincecum

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    Tim Lincecum—AKA the freak—was originally drafted by both the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians, but both times, Lincecum failed to sign.

    But when the San Francisco Giants selected him as the first player from the University of Washington to be taken in the first round in 2006, he obliged.

    After starting 13 games in the minors, Lincecum made his debut with the Giants on May 6, 2007, and has been dominating ever since.

    Lincecum is a four-time All-Star, a three-time NL strikeout champion, a two-time NL Cy Young award winner, and most importantly, a World Series champion.

Seattle Mariners: Felix Hernandez

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    "King" Felix Hernandez was signed by the Seattle Mariners at the age of 16 in Venezuela.

    After appearing in 58 games for the Mariners, Hernandez made his debut on August 4, 2005, and hasn't disappointed Seattle since.

    He's a two-time All-Star and was crowned the AL Cy Young in 2010, when he went 13-12, recorded 232 Ks and led the league in ERA with his minuscule 2.27 mark.

    Despite pitching for the lowly Mariners, Hernandez sports a winning record, at 89-70 with a 3.22 ERA. 

St. Louis Cardinals: Yadier Molina

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    Yadier Molina is easily the St. Louis Cardinals' top homegrown player.

    Selected in the fourth round of the 2000 June Amateur Draft, Molina worked his way from Single-A to Triple-A in three years, until making his debut with the Cardinals in 2004.

    His best offensive season came last year, when he hit .305 with 14 HR and 65 RBI.

    But he's also known as one of the best defensive catchers in the game, as he has won four consecutive Gold Glove awards from 2008-2011.

    Furthermore, he's a three-time All-Star and a two-time World Series champion.

Tampa Bay Rays: Evan Longoria

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    Since being drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays as the No. 3 overall pick of the 2006 draft and reaching the big leagues in 2008, Evan Longoria has arguably been the best third baseman in the league.

    He made an immediate impact for the Rays, hitting .272 with 27 HR and 85 RBI during his rookie campaign, which earned him the 2008 Rookie of the Year award and an All-Star selection.

    The next two seasons saw him eclipse the 100 RBI mark, while 2011 saw him come up one RBI short of making it three consecutive seasons.

    He's excellent in the field as well, as he has two Gold Glove awards and three All-Star selections.

Texas Rangers: Ian Kinsler

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    Ian Kinsler possesses one of the best power and speed combinations in the MLB.

    Similar to Tim Lincecum, Kinsler was courted twice by the Arizona Diamondbacks before finally settling with the Texas Rangers in the 17th round of the 2003 draft.

    After playing in the minors from 2003-2005, Kinsler played in his first full season in 2006, posting a .286 average with 14 HR and 55 RBI in 120 games.

    Since then, Kinsler has joined the 30-30 club in two different seasons, hit for the cycle, has been selected to two All-Star games and is now mentioned with Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia as a top second baseman in the MLB.

Toronto Blue Jays: Ricky Romero

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    Ricky Romero was originally drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 37th round in 2002, but didn't sign, and was selected in the first round of the 2005 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays.

    After spending three complete seasons in the Blue Jay's minor league system, Romero was called up to the big leagues for the 2009 season, where he didn't disappoint as a rookie, earning 13 wins but showing an ERA over 4.00.

    Romero has gotten better each season, as 2010 saw him go 14-9 with a 3.73 ERA, and 2011—when he was selected to his first All-Star game—saw him earn a 15-11 record with a 2.92 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP.

    So far this season, Romero is 5-1 with a 3.86 ERA.  

Washington Nationals: Stephen Strasburg

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    ESPN's most hyped draft pick of all time Stephen Strasburg was selected as the Washington Nationals No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft.

    In less than one year in the minors, Strasburg found himself starting for the Nationals in his MLB debut on June 8, 2010 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, when he proved to be the phenom he was projected, striking out 14 batters and earning the win.

    After going 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA and 92 Ks in 68 innings pitched, it was revealed that Strasburg would require Tommy Johns surgery, a devastating blow for the young ace.

    But Strasburg has bounced back nicely in 2012, sporting a 4-1 record, 2.21 ERA and 62 Ks in 53 IP, to which I ranked him the No. 9 best pitcher at the one-quarter mark of the 2012 season.

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