Wondering who the next great MLB star will be? Navigating through such a question is not just par-for-the-course, but it is also a very debatable topic that leaves an open door for several candidates, for several reasons.
I have comprised a list of who I think will be included in the next set of MLB superstars. I mixed in both players who have begun carving their name into the history books (players with no more than five years of service prior to this season), as well as, players just about to begin making their mark (rookies).
So let’s take a look at who I chose, and be sure to leave your nomination below.
The young pitcher is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery, but many will agree that Strasburg is destined to become an MLB superstar before his career ever nears completion.
The San Diego State standout was cruising along in his first year with a 5-3 record, a 2.91 ERA and an astounding 92/17 K:BB ratio before his injury.
The obvious mention would have been Tim Lincecum, but the fact of the matter is, unless you live under a rock, you already know he is a young MLB superstar.
Strasburg is not, however, likely to pitch in 2011 due to his recovery.
There has only been a handful of rookies that have achieved 20 or more saves in their MLB rookie years, which is an impressive achievement.
But there has only been one who has recorded a sick 40 saves in his rookie year: Neftali Feliz.
Not enough? How about holding batters to a .140 batting average while striking out 59 and walking just 11 in 47 2/3 IP (32 games as a reliever between Triple-A and the big leagues in 2009).
Feliz is a true rare talent on the mound who can work batters and keep them off their game. He even has the stuff to one day flirt with becoming a starter, as we all saw this spring.
His rookie year was a memorable one, earning him Rookie of the Year and All-Star honors, and he is currently on his way to becoming one of the best catchers in Cubs history (eat your heart out, Gabby Hartnett).
Through three years as a starter, Soto has accumulated a .264 batting average, 51 HR and 186 RBI with only 281 strikeouts.
Many could argue this point considering his down year in 2009, but despite the offseason, his defensive prowess and ability to hit and catch is far superior than the average catcher in the majors, and one day this kid will be among the greats.
Earlier this year I commented on how Brandon Belt was going to eventually find his way into a starting role for the Giants, and he didn’t make a liar out of me…not yet anyway.
GM Brian Sabean recently had this to say about Belt:
"He's started a lot of games. It's not like he's coming in the second part of a game and not facing major-league pitching. With each day that he holds his own or excels, it turns your head." —San Francisco Chronicle
This is a guy who has already raised his average to .306 in spring training, and who has a .352 average with 23 home runs, 122 RBI, 22 SB and only 99 strikeouts in 492 AB (three teams in the minors).
Belt has all the tools to become the next great first baseman in the game. He has speed, power, an usually accurate eye, great defense, and natural playing ability.
Mark my word: future MLB superstar.
Four years of 30 plus home runs. Four years of 90+ RBI. Three years 100 plus runs scored. A two-time All-Star and silver slugger winner.
And that’s only his first five years in the league.
To go along with his bat is a incredible set of defensive tools, and understanding of the game that has separated Uggla from day one.
All of these characteristics are what will make Dan Uggla a bona-fide superstar before his career is over.
Talk about a hot start to you major league career.
T3 (Troy Trevor Tulowitzki…my own invention, which you are free to use) has exploded onto the scene with a .290/.362/.495/.857 line with 92 home runs, 338 RBI, 42 stolen bases and 401 strikeouts in just around 554 games (five years as a MLB player)
In addition to that, and his career .985 fielding percent, Troy is also a Gold Glove winner, a Silver Slugger, and an All-Star.
It safe to say the kid is one his way to superstar status.
Evan Longoria has already hit .283/.361/.521 with an .881 OPS, 82 home runs, 302 RBI and 31 stolen bases despite only playing since 2008.
Already the face of the Tampa Bay franchise, Longoria is quietly carving his name and leaving his indelible mark on all of baseball with his superior eye at the plate, and glove in the field.
If he keeps this torrid pace, he could even make a bid for being the greatest third baseman of all time.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet.
He hasn’t played a single pro game under the lights, but mark my word, this kid is nothing but special with superstar written all over him.
This is one of the most balanced players to enter the minor league system in a long time.
Hitting wise, the kid is nothing but power, and has a smooth mechanical swing. His approach at the plate has been nothing short of fantastic given his age and levels of advancement. Trout managed 27 walks to 33 strikeouts in High-A ball with a .388 on-base percentage; a very stout statement for an 18-year-old in High-A.
But what makes him additionally special is his speed and range.
Like Shane Victorino, Trout is a true base runner who has already pilfered 69 bases in two seasons down in the minors.
As a high school player, Trout was said to have thrown pitchers in the low-nineties range.
Think about it, kids; Combining raw, unadulterated speed with an arm that plays center field that can throw 90 mph and above…at 19?
Superstar all the way.
What more can I say about Matt Kemp that he himself hasn’t already shown with his play over the past five years?
A genuine power hitter, a solid defenseman, and a quality all-around guy in baseball, Kemp has it all.
What’s interesting is that many fans are hoping Kemp will have a bounce back year from 2010 in which he hit 28 home runs and 89 RBI…can’t wait to see what “bounce back” translates into.
2010 really raised some questions with my faith in the Phillies organization, once I pretty much knew Werth wasn’t coming back.
The biggest question was the club choosing Brown over Mayberry.
I heard all of the different arguments ranging from lower strikeout totals, to Brown being a more seasoned player, but I never bought into it. Over the course of the past couple of months Brown proved my suspicion right.
This is not to say Domonic Brown isn’t a good player—he’s very good—but it’s my opinion that Mayberry is not only better, but destine to become the next great Phillies outfielder.
Does he have some things to work on, yes? But doesn’t every ‘rook’?
Mayberry has an incredible powerful bat, a sensational outfield presence with a cannon-like arm, and has fit right into the starting role since getting the nod in the field.
Mark my word, this guy will be the next great Philadelphia Phillies player.