One can very easily look at one of the various prospect rankings and think it is easy to spot a future franchise player. Just look at the top-rated prospect and you have the cornerstone of a franchise, right?
Well, not always. A franchise player has qualities beyond a great bat or a terrific arm. He has charisma, work ethic and leadership ability. He has the ability to carry a team by himself. He will, in time, become the face of the franchise.
So today, I will look at each team and the player that is most likely to become that guy. And as an added bonus, I'll throw in a comparable MLB player as a basis of comparison.
Please enjoy a look at your future franchise players.
Note: I will include some players who have had limited MLB time (eg. Julio Teheran, Mike Moustakas) but not someone like Stephen Strasburg who has spent a significant time in the majors.
Arizona's top prospect has been an intriguing case the last few years. He underwent Tommy John surgery over a year ago, an unusual procedure given his age. But he is back now, and appears to be relatively unscathed by the surgery.
Parker is a definitely top-of-the-rotation guy if he reaches his potential. He has excellent mechanics, one of the minors' best sliders and what boils down to a new elbow to pitch with.
Makes you think of: A right-handed Francisco Liriano
Right now, if you had to invest your money in a team's future, the Braves would be a pretty sound investment. Their list of excellent prospects goes on and on, from Mike Minor to Freddie Freeman to this guy, Julio Teheran.
Teheran is the crown jewel of the Braves' farm system. He has seen a small glimpse of the majors, but the way he has carved up hitters in the minor leagues has been awe-inspiring. The 20-year-old has an explosive mid-90s fastball to go along with extremely advanced secondary pitches for his age. He will challenge Tommy Hanson for a spot atop Atlanta's rotation in the future.
Makes you think of: Pedro Martinez
As soon as the Orioles chose Machado in last year's draft, the comparisons to Alex Rodriguez began flowing in. Here was a tall, lanky kid from Miami with a quick bat and slick glove. Unfortunately for Orioles fans, Manny Machado will never become Alex Rodriguez.
Of course, that doesn't mean he won't be an All-Star shortstop. Machado has a lightning-quick bat with the potential for moderate power, an improving defensive game and decent speed. At his worst, he's an everyday shortstop. At his best, he'll be a perennial All-Star and the cornerstone of Baltimore's infield for years.
Makes you think of: A more athletic Miguel Tejada
When the Red Sox selected Swihart in the first round of this year's draft, they may have gotten not only the best catcher in the draft, but a future team leader and franchise player. One cannot understate the value of a good offensive catcher. Names like Johnny Bench, Mike Piazza, Jorge Posada and Buster Posey are all synonymous with team leaders and respected players.
Swihart is a terrific young player, a raw switch-hitting catcher with the ability to improve the offensive, defensive and pitcher-management aspects of his game. But by the time he matures, Swihart might just be one of the best catchers in baseball. Of all of Boston's prospects, he has the biggest chance to be a franchise player.
Makes you think of: Jorge Posada
Cubs fans may have been upset with the offseason losses of top prospects Chris Archer and Hak-Ju Lee, but the boys of the North Side still have some fantastic talent in the minors. Most notable is Brett Jackson, an athletic outfielder out of Cal.
Jackson projects as a leadoff hitter, and justifiably so. He has great speed and range in the outfield and possesses a good ability to get on base and create scoring threats. He has slightly more power than your average leadoff hitter. He'll definitely be a top-of-the-order threat for the Cubs many years into the future.
Makes you think of: Johnny Damon
This was a tough call because Sale isn't exactly still a prospect, but I'm going to include him here because I just don't see another potential franchise player in the White Sox organization. Jared Mitchell and Dayan Viciedo are both great, but Sale has the ability to become a future ace. He has been used out of the bullpen, but Sale's true value will be in the rotation.
He is a classic three-pitch pitcher, with a huge fastball, sharp slider and developing change. He's going to be a great, great pitcher as long as his arm stays healthy. If it does, he will be the face of this franchise.
Makes you think of: Poor man's David Price
The Reds have a very rich farm system, headlined by names like Devin Mesoraco, Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal. All of these guys have the ability to become great major leaguers, and in all honesty, I originally picked Alonso for this slide before I realized that Joey Votto exists. But Billy Hamilton is a terrific player and has just as much of a chance to become a franchise player.
He still has some growing to do in all phases of his game, but he could truly be a five-tool player. He was one of those football/baseball guys in high school, and the athleticism has translated well to baseball. It'll be a few years before he makes the bigs, but he'll be there to stay.
Makes you think of: Jose Reyes
I absolutely love Chisenhall. He is the epitome of the phrase "baseball player." He looks the part and certainly plays it too. He has a great bat with a nice concept of hitting, and he plays third base well enough. He's never going to be Evan Longoria, but he is definitely in that upper echelon of third basemen.
My uncle in Cleveland said that he reminds him a lot of Al Rosen, a great Tribe third baseman from the 1950s. He's going to be a stud, and though he probably will never win an MVP award, he is a franchise player for having almost guaranteed consistency.
Makes you think of: David Wright
The Rockies have two phenomenal left-handed pitchers in their farm system. The first is Rex Brothers, who projects as the closer of the future. The other is Tyler Matzek, a big kid with sky-high potential. He does not fit the mold of a David Price type because he is not overpowering with his fastball, but he's got great secondaries.
His control must improve significantly, and his delivery must become smoother, but his pure stuff is about as good coming from a left-handed pitcher as any prospect. He will unquestionably be the ace of the Rockies' staff in a few years.
Makes you think of: Jon Lester with less of a fastball
I was really tempted to put Jacob Turner here, but I decided to go with Castellanos for a couple of reasons. For one, Turner's upside does not appear to be quite as high. Don't get me wrong—the righty will be an ace in the future. But in terms of building a franchise, it is clear that an elite third baseman is often an attractive choice.
Castellanos is a tremendous talent, combining a gifted ability at the plate with an improving defensive game. His bat is really what draws the scouts, although his defense is good enough to keep him at the hot corner throughout his career. He is young now, but it's a safe bet to say Castellanos will be the Tigers' third baseman for a long time.
Makes you think of: Evan Longoria without the glove
Aside from Matt Dominguez, the Marlins don't have any real standout prospects at this point in the minors. Dominguez, a talented third baseman, isn't quite a "blow you away" prospect. He seems to be more of a solid everyday third baseman than a superstar. So I searched far and wide through the Marlins farm system and came across Marcell Ozuna.
He is a powerful outfielder who is extremely raw in all parts of his game, but has the potential to be truly great. He is not the athlete that Mike Stanton is, but he has a huge arm and a very quick bat. He is very young, but if he develops, he could be a very, very valuable piece of this team.
Makes you think of: Vernon Wells
The Astros are really in bad shape at all levels of their organization. Their record at the MLB level speaks for itself, but unlike a team like Pittsburgh or Kansas City, their farm system shows little hope for the future. But in this year's MLB draft, the 'Stros made a huge pick by taking George Springer, an outfielder from Connecticut.
He is a toolsy player who has the potential to be a consistent 20 HR, 20 steal guy. He is also an excellent fielder who can patrol the vast outfield of Minute Maid Park. With Hunter Pence unlikely to remain an Astro for long, Springer could be the future face of the franchise.
Makes you think of: Justin Upton
It really isn't fair to pick one future franchise player out of everyone in the Royals' stacked farm system. Eric Hosmer is one choice, as is Mike Moustakas. Then you have Mike Montgomery or John Lamb, or even recent draft pick Bubba Starling. To me, the choice is clearly Moustakas. He has an incredible talent base and is the closest thing to an Evan Longoria that currently exists.
He's got a ridiculous feel for hitting, almost unfair. His defense isn't stellar, but it's more than made up for by his tremendous offensive production. I know that technically, now that he's in the majors, he's not really a prospect any more, but give me a break. This guy is the real deal.
Makes you think of: Evan Longoria, maybe better
He practically already is a franchise player, but Mike Trout has to be just about as sure of a bet for this list as anyone. When you talk about a true A-plus prospect, Trout is the first person you think of. He's got it all—quick bat, nice power, very fast and a great fielder. He's still a ways away from the majors, but when he gets there, look out.
The Angels are relying on Trout to be the best player on the team for years upon years. He looks like he will be able to deliver, and the sky really is the limit for him.
Makes you think of: Dare I say it? Mickey Mantle with less power
Tom "Flash" Gordon, a longtime reliever in the majors, had a son. And this son is very good at baseball. Dee Gordon, the top prospect in the L.A. Dodgers' farm system, just broke into the big leagues recently and is already showing signs of superstardom. He is about as fast as they come, and unlike many speed demons nowadays, can actually get on base.
He will likely be the Dodgers' shortstop for years to come, and rightfully so. He's got a great glove, great bat and feet of gold. It is so hard to find a true leadoff man in this era, but the Dodgers definitely have one.
Makes you think of: Poor man's Jose Reyes
The Brew Crew have an abundance of good arms in their farm system, but no one really does stand out. There are guys like draft pick Taylor Jungmann and Mark Rogers, both of whom have plus arms but not truly exceptional stuff. Two of the top pitchers, Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress, were traded to the Royals in the Zack Greinke deal. So right now, it looks like Jungmann, who is a big righty from Texas, is a likely candidate for a franchise player.
He is a well-built, strong-armed pitcher who is built to last. He's got great control of all his pitches and should have a fast track to the majors. If he makes some improvements to his mechanics, Jungmann will likely become a top-of-the-rotation guy. He had arm surgery after high school, so that's a concern.
Makes you think of: Michael Pineda
The Twins have, in the past few years, been a team that has valued athleticism tremendously. It is no surprise that Aaron Hicks, an ultra-athletic outfielder, is among the team's top prospects. He was projected as a five-tool player out of high school, but hasn't quite displayed the power or baserunning speed that the Twins expected.
However, he is still an immensely valuable player. If he does acquire that power and become a better baserunner, he will be absolutely deadly. At his peak, he's a middle of the order run producer with Gold Glove potential.
Makes you think of: Torii Hunter
All the talk about the Mets this year has either been about their ownership or how they're going to have a fire sale at some point in the next few months. While all that is fine and dandy, what is being ignored is the gem of a prospect in the Mets' farm system. Wilmer Flores plays shortstop now, but probably projects more as a third baseman or outfielder.
He has a great bat, but needs to work on some mechanics. He is just entering his 20s, so there are no worries as to whether he will reach his potential. He's got great power and can hit the ball very hard, so he will be an offensive force for the Mets.
Makes you think of: Miguel Cabrera without the weight/alcohol problem
There has been lots of speculation by many, including myself, over whether Montero will remain a Yankee. Because of the nature of the beast, he could be used as a centerpiece of a trade for pretty much anyone not named Felix Hernandez or Albert Pujols. But for the time being, we'll assume Brian Cashman wants to hang on to Montero.
In that case, the Yankees have the best offensive catching prospect in years, possibly of this generation. He has a rare bat, and really is not horrible behind the plate. With Jorge Posada on his way out and Russell Martin likely a stopgap, Montero will make a big impact soon.
Makes you think of: Frank Thomas
The A's have several great offensive prospects in their system, which is great news for a team that couldn't score a run if it was handed to them. Among these great prospects like Max Stassi, Chris Carter and Jemile Weeks is talented shortstop Grant Green. A USC product, Green is a line-drive hitter, an excellent bat with improving defensive ability.
His arm may result in a move to second base, but regardless, he is a very talented middle-infielder who will likely anchor the team's offense in years to come. The A's need help, and Green is one of many ready to provide offensive assistance.
Makes you think of: Chase Utley
While Domonic Brown would be a very popular choice here, I'm placing him above the prospect threshold because of his experience level in the majors. Brown is likely a future franchise player, but that doesn't mean the Phillies are now deprived of a prospect with that potential. That guy is Jon Singleton, a hard-hitting first baseman. He's been working out in the outfield because of Ryan Howard, but he will move back to first eventually.
He's young, but he's got great swing mechanics. For his age, his plate discipline and pitch recognition are off the charts. In short, Singleton seems to be very advanced at the plate and decent enough in the field. He will eventually replace Ryan Howard, but will be a nice outfielder until then.
Makes you think of: Ryan Howard?
When the Pirates drafted UCLA righty Gerrit Cole in the draft, they cemented a future 1-2 punch that will be able to pitch with the best of them. While Cole is a fantastic pitcher himself, the second half of that combination is Jameson Taillon, a pitcher with perhaps higher upside. Taillon is similar to Cole—pure power, great size, and a nice collection of pitches.
He'll have to iron out some mechanics, but Taillon's arm is about as promising as anyone's. He is still very young, and his ETA in the majors isn't until 2014, but it will be well worth the wait. With his upside, the Pirates should be very excited.
Makes you think of: Josh Beckett
The former Red Sox stud has just recently made the show, and he is showing flashes of why he has the potential to make Padres fans forget Adrian Gonzalez. In fact, the comparison to A-Gon is almost too easy. For one, the two were traded for each other. Rizzo is another powerful lefty with a similar approach at the plate.
Both are big guys, with Rizzo having the build of a football player. He does not have the glove that Gonzalez has, but is definitely faster so it all evens out. In short, you're looking at a future cleanup hitter for years to come.
Makes you think of: Adrian Gonzalez
I was tempted to put Zack Wheeler here, but the stacked pitching rotation in San Francisco was a major deterrent. That's not to say Wheeler won't be great, but as long as there's a Tim Lincecum or Madison Bumgarner, it's hard to become a franchise pitcher on that team. Brandon Belt, who has seen limited time in the majors, looks likely to be a cornerstone of the franchise.
He's got a very good bat, a special glove and an overall nice athleticism that the Giants love. He and Buster Posey will be the a great combination in the middle of the lineup. And if Belt's bat improves, he could be truly special.
Makes you think of: Derrek Lee
Another prospect who is just recently a major leaguer, Ackley has already given Mariners fans reason to have hope for the team's offense in the future. It appears that the pitching staff of the future Seattle team is all set, between Felix Hernandez, Michael Pineda and Danny Hultzen. But the offense then, as now, is in question. Ackley will be a terrific offensive infielder.
He's got an uncanny knack to make good contact with pitches, and seems to hit the ball hard all the time. Defensively, he's got some work to do, but for now, his bat will keep him in the bigs. Long term, he will be a middle-of-the-order stud for years.
Makes you think of: Chase Utley
In a organization that has been marred by injuries, especially this year, Miller provides some long-term hope for the team. No matter what happens with Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter or Adam Wainwright, Miller looks to be a top-of-the-rotation guy for the Redbirds down the line. He's got a big fastball, big frame and smaller control issues.
Once he adjusts his delivery to the point where he can command his pitches slightly better, he will be an absolute stud. He has all the makings of a future ace and perennial all-star.
Makes you think of: Tommy Hanson
Say what you want about the Rays' organizational pitching depth, but their true future franchise player is Desmond Jennings, an athletic outfielder who reminds you exactly of a certain other athletic outfielder who defected to another AL East team. The Rays have been gifted some exceptional pitchers in their organization, and one of them is bound to become a franchise player.
But Jennings, who has the potential to be a five-tool player at the major league level, is almost certain to be an invaluable asset for the Rays. With BJ Upton likely gone, the void in centerfield will need to be filled, and Jennings will undoubtedly be that guy.
Makes you think of: Carl Crawford
Not only does Jurickson Profar probably have the coolest name of anyone on this list, but he has tremendous potential. Just 18, Profar is likely at least three years from the majors, and he has a lot of growing to do. His plate discipline has improved, but his power stroke is still developing. At this point, it appears he will be a leadoff or two-hole hitter.
He has great speed, a very good glove and is one of those dynamic players who can change a game with his athletic ability. Though Elvis Andrus appears to have a stranglehold at shortstop for now, Profar's presence is a challenge to him. Profar could see time in the outfield or before eventually moving to short given Andrus' presence.
Makes you think of: Derek Jeter
Brett Lawrie was on track to be in the majors until a few weeks ago, when a hand injury sidelined him for the next several weeks. Once he recovers, however, Lawrie will be on a quick road to the majors. He's got a very nice swing and shows a rare offensive game. His bat is, after all, the reason he is such a highly-touted prospect.
He can steal bases too, and his speed is an underappreciated aspect of his game. Though his glove remains a concern, Lawrie should develop into a decent enough fielder. If third base doesn't work out, second base is an option. Either way, Lawrie will be a middle-of-the-order stud for the Jays in years to come.
Makes you think of: Craig Biggio
He's cocky, he's a showboater and he made the controversial decision to drop out of high school to play baseball. But make no mistake—Bryce Harper is a future face, not just of the Nationals, but of the entire league. His absolutely unfair offensive ability makes him a lock to be a future .300/40/120 guy, something that is incredible given his age.
He still does have some growing to do, defensively and mentally, but Harper's bat is already major-league ready. Once he does break into the majors, expect a Strasburgian reception in Washington. He is about as real of a deal as they come.
Makes you think of: Alex Rodriguez