Naming the All-Prospect Team for Each MLB Division
One of the most exciting parts of spring training, apart from the fact that baseball is starting again, is getting a chance to see some of baseball's top prospects go up against big league competition.
Whether it is a flame-throwing pitching prospect or the next middle-of-the-order slugger, it's always fun to get a glimpse of your favorite team's future.
What follows is an overview of each division's top prospects, as I've named my all-prospect team for all six divisions entering the 2013 season.
C: Travis d'Arnaud, NYM
1B: Darin Ruf, PHI
2B: Wilmer Flores, NYM
SS: Adeiny Hechavarria, MIA
3B: Anthony Rendon, WAS
OF: Christian Yelich, MIA
OF: Jake Marisnick, MIA
OF: Brian Goodwin, WAS
It was an offseason of selling for the Mets and Marlins, as d'Arnaud will be the future behind the plate in New York and Marisnick and Hechavarria join the Miami rebuilding effort.
The top prospect in Miami though is Yelich, who's hit .322/.395/.497 in two-plus minor league seasons and will join Marisnick and Giancarlo Stanton in what should be a fantastic outfield for the Marlins.
Rendon needs to find a position in Washington with Ryan Zimmerman playing third, but he has advanced offensive skills and will be big league ready soon. The same goes for Flores, as he's blocked at third by David Wright and will shift to second this year.
Ruf has the power to play his way into everyday at-bats for the Phillies though he's old for a prospect at 26, while Goodwin will be brought along slowly with the addition of Denard Span in Washington.
RHP Jose Fernandez, MIA
RHP Zack Wheeler, NYM
RHP Julio Teheran, ATL
RHP Noah Syndergaard, NYM
LHP Jesse Biddle, PHI
The trio of arms at the top of the list here are among the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, but Fernandez gets the nod at the top from me.
The 20-year-old went 14-1 with a 1.75 ERA and 10.6 K/9 in his first pro season last year, while Wheeler was impressive as well, going 12-6 with a 3.26 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A.
Teheran had a down year with a 5.08 ERA, but is just a year removed from going 15-3 with a 2.55 ERA as a 20-year-old in Triple-A. He'll get the first crack at the fifth spot in the Braves rotation.
Syndergaard was acquired along with d'Arnaud and will join Wheeler and Matt Harvey atop what should be a great Mets rotation, while Biddle emerged as the Phillies' top pitching prospect after going 10-6 with a 3.22 ERA and 9.5 K/9 at High Single-A last year.
C: Tony Sanchez, PIT
1B: Hunter Morris, MIL
2B: Kolten Wong, STL
SS: Javier Baez, CHC
3B: Stephen Piscotty, STL
OF: Oscar Taveras, STL
OF: Billy Hamilton, CIN
OF: Albert Almora, CHC
There may be no player who did more to boost his stock as a top prospect last season than Taveras, and that is saying something as he was already highly regarded entering the year. However a .321 BA, 23 HR, 94 RBI season as a 20-year-old in Double-A has made him a legitimate future superstar.
Baez fits the bill of future star as well, as he has perhaps the best bat speed in all of minor league baseball and should develop substantial power. On the other side of things, Hamilton turned heads last year with 155 steals and continues to transition to the outfield.
First base is a deep position in the division with Morris getting the nod over the Cubs' Dan Vogelbach, Pirates' Alex Dickerson and Cardinals' Matt Adams.
On the other hand, catcher and third base are weak, though Sanchez and Piscotty have the makings of solid regulars moving forward. Almora may have been the safest pick in last year's draft and could be a team leader for the rebuilding Cubs.
RHP Gerrit Cole, PIT
RHP Shelby Miller, STL
RHP Jameson Taillon, PIT
RHP Robert Stephenson, CIN
RHP Carlos Martinez, STL
The Pirates have been on the fringe of contending the past two seasons, and the arrivals of Cole and Taillon could be what finally pushes them over the top to contention as they are two of the most electric arms in all of baseball.
Not to be outdone, the Cardinals have an impressive duo as well in Miller and Martinez. It remains to be seen if Martinez will wind up in the bullpen, but Miller is a future rotation ace.
Stephenson surprised in his pro debut, going 3-4 with a 3.18 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 65 innings. While he's still just 19, he could progress quickly.
C: Austin Hedges, SD
1B: Ryan Wheeler, COL
2B: Jedd Gyorko, SD
SS: Didi Gregorius, ARI
3B: Nolan Arenado, COL
OF: Yasiel Puig, LAD
OF: David Dahl, COL
OF: Rymer Liriano, SD
Outfield in the NL West is as deep a position as any in any division, as the trio I chose just barely beat out Gary Brown of the Giants, Adam Eaton of the Diamondbacks and Joc Pederson of the Dodgers.
While those three could reach the majors quicker, Puig, Dahl and Liriano have more upside and got the nod. Hedges is an upside prospect as well, as he has already has advanced defensive tools.
Gyorko should make the biggest impact of anyone here, with a .300 average and 100 RBI in each of the past two seasons. He slides from third base to second base and could earn the starting job out of spring. Wheeler is big league ready as well, and he may have a better chance at finding at-bats now that he's been dealt to Colorado from Arizona.
Arenado should take over as the Rockies' everyday third baseman at some point this coming season, and Gregorius will get every chance to be the shortstop once he's ready after the Diamondbacks dealt Trevor Bauer for him.
LHP Tyler Skaggs, ARI
RHP Archie Bradley, ARI
RHP Zach Lee, LAD
LHP Max Fried, SD
RHP Casey Kelly, SD
The Diamondbacks acquired Skaggs from the Angels in the Dan Haren deal, and his terrific numbers in the high minors last year (9-6, 2.87 ERA, 8.5 K/9) made trading Trevor Bauer an easier call for Arizona.
It may be Bradley who winds up the better Diamondbacks pitcher though, as he went 12-6 with a 3.84 ERA and 152 strikeouts in 136 innings as a 19-year-old in Single-A.
Lee and Kelly both have high expectations following them, as Lee signed a huge signing bonus when the Dodgers drafted him and Kelly was the key acquisition in the deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez from San Diego to Boston.
Fried was the top left-hander in the draft last year, and he has the polished stuff to move quickly after being take seventh overall in last year's draft out of high school.
C: Gary Sanchez, NYY
1B: Nick Delmonico, BAL
2B: Jonathan Schoop, BAL
SS: Xander Bogaerts, BOS
3B: Richie Shaffer, TB
OF: Wil Myers, TB
OF: Jackie Bradley, BOS
OF: Mason Williams, NYY
This group is led by last year's Minor League Player of the Year Wil Myers, who was acquired from the Royals for James Shields this offseason.
Bogaerts also looks the part of the a future star, as he reached Double-A last season at the age of 19 and has terrific power potential. He'll be joined in the Boston lineup by Bradley, who appears to be the heir apparent to Jacoby Ellsbury in center field.
Williams and Sanchez, along with outfielder Tyler Austin, represent the future in New York and could help replace their aging stars down the line.
Schoop and Delmonico should be solid regulars in Baltimore at some point in the near future, while Shaffer was one of the better college bats in last year's draft. He'll need to find a new position though as he's blocked by Evan Longoria.
RHP: Dylan Bundy, BAL
RHP: Aaron Sanchez, TOR
RHP: Kevin Gausman, BAL
RHP: Jake Odorizzi, TB
RHP: Matt Barnes, BOS
Bundy is the premier pitching prospect in all of baseball, as he advanced through three levels to reach the majors last season at the age of 19. He has an outside chance at making the rotation out of camp, and could be fronting the Orioles staff by the end of the season.
Sanchez is the top remaining pitching prospect for the Blue Jays after they dealt a good chunk of their future this offseason to make a run in 2013.
Gausman was the fourth pick in last year's draft and should move quickly to join Bundy in Baltimore, while Barnes could see his first taste of big league action in Boston this coming season on his way to being a potential staff ace.
Odorizzi was acquired in the Shields trade as well, and he slides ahead of Chris Archer as the Rays' top pitching prospect.
C: Chris Herrmann, MIN
1B: Keon Barnum, CWS
2B: Eddie Rosario, MIN
SS: Francisco Lindor, CLE
3B: Miguel Sano, MIN
OF: Bubba Starling, KC
OF: Byron Buxton, MIN
OF: Nick Castellanos, DET
The AL Central is fairly weak on position players, but there are potential stars. Sano has the makings of a future home run champ, and Starling is a bona fide five-tool talent who could be a superstar a few years down the road.
Lindor is a future Gold Glove winner who surprised with his plus offensive skills last year, and Castellanos may be the first of this group to reach the majors as he'll compete for an outfield spot in Detroit this spring.
Buxton is still a ways off, but he is a five-tool talent as well and was the most talented all-around player in last year's draft.
Barnum gets the nod at first base, but outfielder Courtney Hawkins ranks as the White Sox's top position prospect. Rosario and Herrmann could both be solid contributors in Minnesota soon.
RHP Trevor Bauer, CLE
RHP Kyle Zimmer, KC
RHP Alex Meyer, MIN
RHP Trevor May, MIN
RHP Bruce Rondon, DET
Bauer entered last season as one of baseball's top pitching prospects and turned in a dominant minor league season before struggling over four starts in Arizona. He was dealt in a three-team deal that landed Arizona shortstop Didi Gregorius.
Zimmer shot up draft boards with a big season at the University of San Francisco last season and went fifth overall in the June draft. He could debut by next season with a strong year this year.
Meyer and May were acquired for Denard Span and Ben Revere this offseason, and along with Kyle Gibson they represent the future of the Minnesota staff.
Rondon will get the first crack at the vacant closer's job in Detroit this coming season, and the flame-thrower could be viewed as the front-runner to win AL Rookie of the Year honors.
C: Mike Zunino, SEA
1B: Jonathan Singleton, HOU
2B: Delino DeShields, HOU
SS: Jurickson Profar, TEX
3B: Mike Olt, TEX
OF: George Springer, HOU
OF: Michael Choice, OAK
OF: Leonys Martin, TEX
Profar is the consensus top prospect in baseball, and it is only a matter of time before he plays his way into an everyday job with the Rangers. That said, it may be Olt who reaches Texas first this coming season, and he has serious power potential.
In a weak crop of college bats, Zunino was the premier bat and has a chance to be a franchise catcher for the Mariners with a serious offensive impact.
DeShields has the bloodlines and is a burner atop the lineup, while Singleton and Springer should provide the power in the middle of the lineup. That trio should be at the heart of the Astros' rebuilding efforts.
Cuban defector Martin should slide into an everyday role in the Rangers outfield with Josh Hamilton gone, and Choice has serious power potential for Oakland.
RHP Taijuan Walker, SEA
LHP Danny Hultzen, SEA
RHP Daniel Straily, OAK
LHP James Paxton, SEA
RHP Jarred Cosart, HOU
The trio of Walker, Hultzen and Paxton have given Mariners fans reason for optimism moving forward for the past few years, and they could all make their debuts this coming season.
Straily went 2-1 with a 3.89 ERA in seven big league starts after dominating minor league hitters, and with 39.1 innings pitched he maintains his rookie eligibility.
Cosart was acquired along with Singleton from the Phillies for Hunter Pence and could make his Houston debut this coming season.