Predicting Each MLB Team's Face of the Franchise in 2025

Joel ReuterAugust 12, 2022

Predicting Each MLB Team's Face of the Franchise in 2025

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    ALLENTOWN, PA - AUGUST 02: Francisco Alvarez #19 of the Syracuse Mets in action during a game against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at Coca-Cola Park on August 2, 2022 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Alvarez is the number one ranked prospect in the New York Mets organization. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    Who will be the face of the franchise for every MLB team in three years?

    For some clubs, it's as simple as choosing the young superstar who has signed a long-term deal or is controllable for several years, such as Ronald Acuña Jr. in Atlanta or Julio Rodríguez in Seattle.

    Other teams' choices are not quite as clear-cut, and picking their future face requires some projection of prospects or significant spending on the free-agent market.

    Ahead you'll find our pick for each team's face of the franchise in 2025, based on roster outlook, expected spending and player development.

Arizona Diamondbacks: SS Jordan Lawlar

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    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 16: Jordan Lawlar #1 of the National League throws for the third out in the fourth inning during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game against the American League at Dodger Stadium on July 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The future is bright in the Arizona Diamondbacks outfield, where rookie Alek Thomas and Daulton Varsho are set to be joined by top-tier prospect Corbin Carroll in short order. During a breakout offensive season in the upper levels of the minors, Carroll is flashing face-of-the-franchise potential.

    However, the highest ceiling in the system belongs to shortstop Jordan Lawlar.

    The top overall prospect on Baseball America's predraft rankings before the 2021 draft, he slipped to the D-backs at No. 6 overall, where he was given a $6.7 million signing bonus.

    The 20-year-old is already playing at High-A Hillsboro and hitting .323/.412/.551 with 34 extra-base hits and 31 steals in 71 games. He could debut early in the 2024 season and be a bona fide star by the time 2025 rolls around.

Atlanta Braves: RF Ronald Acuña Jr.

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    NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 6: Ronald Acuna Jr. #13 of the Atlanta Braves at bat during the fifth inning against the New York Mets in the second game of a doubleheader at Citi Field on August 6, 2022 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
    Adam Hunger/Getty Images

    Rookies Spencer Strider and Michael Harris II will be staples on the Atlanta roster for years, and the infield trio of Matt Olson, Ozzie Albies and Austin Riley are all locked up long term.

    Even with Riley having an MVP-caliber season on the heels of his breakout 2021 campaign, the face-of-the-franchise title still belongs to Ronald Acuña Jr.

    The 24-year-old spent much of the first half continuing to rehab from the torn ACL that prematurely ended his 2021 season, and he has a 112 OPS+ with 22 extra-base hits and 24 steals in 76 games.

    Before the injury, he was a legitimate 40/40 threat and one of the MVP front-runners. Jumping into the middle of a season is never easy, and while his numbers are down, he has shown no ill effects from a speed or athleticism standpoint. Expect a return to elite-level form and face-of-the-franchise status in 2023 and beyond.

Baltimore Orioles: C Adley Rutschman

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    CINCINNATI, OHIO - JULY 30: Adley Rutschman #35 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a single in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on July 30, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    From the moment he was selected No. 1 overall in the 2019 draft, Adley Rutschman was viewed as the future face of the franchise for the rebuilding Baltimore Orioles.

    That future is now.

    The 24-year-old made his MLB debut on May 21, and after taking some time to settle into life in the big leagues, he is hitting .319/.475/.506 with 13 extra-base hits and more walks (26) than strikeouts (17) in his last 29 games.

    All told, he has a 128 OPS+ with 22 doubles, five home runs and 2.8 WAR in 63 games, and he is quickly pushing his way into the AL Rookie of the Year race.

    The O's have more promising young talent climbing the minor league ranks, led by Gunnar Henderson, Grayson Rodriguez, DL Hall and 2022 No. 1 overall pick Jackson Holliday, but Rutschman is the foundation of their future.

Boston Red Sox: 3B Rafael Devers

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    BOSTON, MA - JULY 07:  Rafael Devers #11 of the Boston Red Sox reacts as he tosses his bat after hitting a three-run home run in the fifth inning of a game against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on July 7, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
    Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

    If shortstop Xander Bogaerts opts out as expected this offseason and winds up signing elsewhere, the Boston Red Sox should make locking up Rafael Devers with a long-term extension even more of a priority.

    Still only 25 years old, he is unquestionably one of the best offensive players in the game, and even with the Red Sox struggling, he is poised for a top-five finish in AL MVP voting this year.

    The two-time All-Star is hitting .310/.366/.583 for a career-high 157 OPS+ to go with 30 doubles, 24 home runs, 60 RBI and 4.1 WAR in 95 games.

    A move across the diamond may be necessary at some point, but he is the piece the Red Sox should build around with young players such as Triston Casas, Marcelo Mayer, Nick Yorke and Ceddanne Rafaela joining him as part of the next offensive core.

Chicago Cubs: SS Trea Turner

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    DENVER, CO - JULY 30: Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Trea Turner (6) hits a third inning solo home run during a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on July 30, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Hot take: The next face of the franchise for the Chicago Cubs is not currently a member of the organization.

    Outfielders Brennen Davis and Pete Crow-Armstrong appear to have a bright future and should both be in the majors by 2025, and Nico Hoerner has been one of the few bright spots in an ugly 2022 season, but the team is still lacking in star power, and will be especially so if Willson Contreras walks this winter.

    After sitting out the shortstop market last offseason in favor of signing Andrelton Simmons and Jonathan Villar to discount deals—both of which ended with the player being released—they could take a more aggressive approach this winter.

    Trea Turner is set to become a free agent for the first time in his career, and both Carlos Correa and Xander Bogaerts can opt out of their deals, so there's likely to be a wealth of available talent at the position once again. USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported in June that several talent evaluators thought Turner could leave L.A.

    Signing him and shifting Hoerner back to second base would make the middle infield a clear strength amid the rebuild.

Chicago White Sox: CF Luis Robert

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    ARLINGTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 07: Luis Robert #88 of the Chicago White Sox bats in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field on August 07, 2022 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images)
    Tim Heitman/Getty Images

    The Chicago White Sox have some intriguing young talent climbing the minor league ranks, with both Colson Montgomery and Oscar Colas possessing the raw tools to develop into the club's next homegrown star.

    That said, the highest ceiling in the organization still belongs to Luis Robert.

    The 25-year-old will be under team control through the 2027 season if both of his club options are exercised, and he is hitting .300/.335/.456 for a 123 OPS+ and 2.6 WAR in 80 games this year.

    He has steadily improved his approach at the plate since reaching the majors, trimming his strikeout rate from 32.2 to 20.6 to 18.5 percent in his three MLB seasons. That paints a picture of a player who is still improving and building toward his superstar ceiling.

Cincinnati Reds: SS Elly De La Cruz

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 16:  Elly De La Cruz #18 of the Cincinnati Reds acknowledges the crowd during player introductions prior to the 2022 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, July 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
    Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images

    The Cincinnati Reds appear to have struck gold when they signed Elly De La Cruz to a $65,000 bonus as part of the 2018 international free-agent class.

    The 20-year-old is having one of the loudest seasons of any prospect in the minors, hitting .302/.355/.605 with 21 doubles, 24 home runs, 65 RBI and 34 steals in 39 attempts. He was promoted to Double-A after the All-Star break and hasn't missed a beat as one of the youngest players at the level.

    He has enough power to handle third base and enough athleticism to roam center field if he outgrows shortstop once his 6'5", 200-pound frame fills out, and his bat should play anywhere on the field if he continues on his trajectory.

    Don't sleep on Hunter Greene still being a face-of-the-franchise type player if he can find a bit more consistency with his stuff.

Cleveland Guardians: 3B José Ramírez

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    CLEVELAND, OHIO - AUGUST 07: Jose Ramirez #11 of the Cleveland Guardians at bat during the sixth inning against the Houston Astros at Progressive Field on August 07, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    The Cleveland Guardians signed José Ramírez to a seven-year, $141 million extension in April, putting to rest the longstanding trade rumors that had swirled around the star third baseman.

    Outfielder George Valera and right-hander Daniel Espino are both elite prospects, and right-hander Gavin Williams is quickly pitching his way into that same conversation, but it's still Ramirez who figures to be the face of the franchise.

    The 29-year-old is enjoying another MVP-caliber season, hitting .283/.354/.547 with 36 doubles, 21 home runs, 88 RBI and 4.1 WAR in 106 games.

    Never say never with a Cleveland organization that is notorious for pinching pennies, but it looks like J-Ram is sticking around for the long haul.

Colorado Rockies: SS Ezequiel Tovar

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    SCOTTSDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 10, 2021: Ezequiel Tovar #10 of the Salt River Rafter bats during a game against the Scottsdale Scorpions at Scottsdale Stadium on November 10, 2021 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images)
    Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

    The fact that the answer here is not Nolan Arenado playing out a long-term deal that allows him to retire in a Colorado Rockies uniform as one of the greatest players in franchise history is a complete and utter failure on the part of the front office.

    With that said, shortstop Ezequiel Tovar has a chance to be the team's next great homegrown shortstop, following in the footsteps of Troy Tulowitzki and Trevor Story.

    The 21-year-old enjoyed a breakout 2021 season, and he has taken things to another level this year, hitting .318/.386/.546 with 15 doubles, 13 home runs and 17 steals in 66 games at Double-A Hartford.

    On top of his significant uptick in offensive production, he is also a standout defender who MLB.com called the best defensive player in the Rockies system.

Detroit Tigers: OF Riley Greene

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    DETROIT, MI - JULY 27:  Riley Greene #31 of the Detroit Tigers looks on while batting during the game against the San Diego Padres at Comerica Park on July 27, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Padres 4-3.  (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
    Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

    The Detroit Tigers began the 2022 season with two potential franchise cornerstones set to make their MLB debut in Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene.

    Torkelson broke camp as the team's starting first baseman, but he hit just .197 with a 67 OPS+ and a 25.5 percent strikeout rate in 298 plate appearances before he was optioned back to the minors at the All-Star break.

    Meanwhile, Greene saw his call-up delayed by a foot injury suffered at the end of spring training, and he didn't make his MLB debut until June 18. He too is off to a somewhat slow start relative to expectations with a 95 OPS+ and 0.6 WAR in 46 games, but he's also a full year younger than Torkelson and won't turn 22 until Sept. 28.

    The future is still bright for both players, but here's betting that Greene will develop into the better all-around player.

Houston Astros: DH Yordan Alvarez

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    HOUSTON, TX - JULY 21:  Houston Astros designated hitter Yordan Álvarez (44) smiles after hitting a home run in the bottom of the first inning during the MLB doubleheader Game 2 between the New York Yankees and Houston Astros on July 21, 2022 at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Houston Astros made it clear they view Yordan Alvarez as a key piece of the future puzzle when they signed him to a six-year, $115 million extension in June.

    With Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman both set to hit free agency after the 2024 season, there is a changing of the guard steadily happening in Houston.

    The future core revolves around Alvarez, Kyle Tucker and Jeremy Peña on the position-player side and Framber Valdez, Luis García, Cristian Javier and top prospect Hunter Brown on the mound.

    Alvarez is hitting .295/.401/.633 for a 190 OPS+ with 31 home runs and 74 RBI in 95 games, and if not for the otherworldly season that Aaron Judge is having, he would be a serious contender for AL MVP honors.

Kansas City Royals: SS Bobby Witt Jr.

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    CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - AUGUST 03: Bobby Witt Jr. #7 of the Kansas City Royals at bat against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on August 03, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    The No. 1 prospect in B/R's first Top 100 list of the 2022 season, Bobby Witt Jr. began the year as the Kansas City Royals' starting third baseman and the AL Rookie of the Year front-runner.

    The 22-year-old has not quite kept pace with Seattle Mariners phenom Julio Rodríguez in terms of top rookie honors, but it's been a strong debut nonetheless as he sports a 107 OPS+ with 19 doubles, 15 home runs, 57 RBI and 21 steals in 25 attempts.

    His defense remains a work in progress at both shortstop (567.0 INN, -16 DRS, -8.2 UZR/150) and third base (285.0 INN, -1 DRS, -1.5 UZR/150), and that has undercut his overall value as a rookie, but the tools are there for him to be a solid defensive player, and there's a lot to like about his production at the plate.

    Catcher Salvador Perez will be 35 years old and in the final guaranteed season of his contract in 2025, but he will remain the most recognizable Royals player until he retires or plays elsewhere.

Los Angeles Angels: CF Mike Trout

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    BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - JULY 10: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels warms up before the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 10, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
    G Fiume/Getty Images

    Mike Trout is signed through the 2030 season as he plays through a massive 12-year, $426.5 million contract, and that deal will pay him $37.1 million annually for the next eight years.

    That alone makes it unlikely Trout will ever be traded by the organization that selected him No. 25 overall in the 2009 draft, as the list of teams capable of fitting that type of salary onto their roster and still fielding a contender is a short one.

    Of course, the other side of that is wondering whether Trout might eventually request a trade and force the Angels' hand if they continue to fall short of reaching the postseason.

    For now, the assumption remains that Trout will be wearing an Angels uniform for the remainder of his career, and he'll need to put his recent injury issues in the rearview if he is going to make a serious run at all-time-great status.

Los Angeles Dodgers: RHP/DH Shohei Ohtani

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    SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 07: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels stands on-deck during the first inning against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park on August 07, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Mariners won 6-3. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
    Alika Jenner/Getty Images

    Spicy!

    The Angels were at least willing to listen to offers for Shohei Ohtani at the trade deadline, and with free agency looming for him after the 2023 season, it's fair to wonder if those talks might gain some serious traction this offseason.

    The Los Angeles Dodgers were one of the teams linked to Ohtani at the trade deadline, and with a loaded farm system and a ton of money coming off the books this offseason, they are in a great position to acquire him and promptly sign him to a long-term extension.

    The Dodgers system checked in No. 3 in our most recent farm system rankings, and they could shed a quick $46 million from their payroll simply by declining their club options on the underperforming veteran duo of Justin Turner and Max Muncy and non-tendering Cody Bellinger.

    Ohtani has made it known he prefers to stay on the West Coast, which throws some water on the New York Yankees as a potential landing spot and perhaps makes the Dodgers the front-runners for the two-way superstar.

    In that case, it's not hard to envision him superseding incumbents Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman as the new face of the franchise.

Miami Marlins: RHP Sandy Alcantara

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 10: Sandy Alcantara #22 of the Miami Marlins throws a pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on August 10, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Marlins 4-3. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    Jazz Chisholm Jr. has face-of-the-franchise talent and confidence, but he also has a lot to prove before he can be in that conversation.

    Meanwhile, right-hander Sandy Alcantara is arguably the best pitcher in baseball right now, and his team-friendly five-year, $56 million extension ensures that he will be a fixture atop the Miami Marlins rotation for the foreseeable future.

    The 26-year-old has steadily improved since earning an All-Star nod as a rookie in 2019, and this year he's gone 10-5 with a 2.01 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 145 strikeouts in an MLB-leading 166 innings over 23 starts.

    The Marlins have a lot of intriguing young talent on the MLB roster and scattered across their minor league ranks, but Alcantara looks like the one player who is a lock to be a big league staple in the coming years.

Milwaukee Brewers: OF Jackson Chourio

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    If you don't know the name Jackson Chourio, you will soon enough.

    The 18-year-old began the year as the youngest player in the league when the Milwaukee Brewers assigned him to Single-A Carolina for his stateside debut.

    He not only held his own against older competition but also thrived, hitting .324/.373/.600 with 23 doubles, 12 home runs, 47 RBI and 10 steals in 62 games before he was promoted to High-A Wisconsin in late July.

    With that, he has gone from a prospect to watch to one of the most exciting prospects in baseball. His MLB timeline has also been expedited by his stellar performance and early promotion, and he could be the next young phenom to reach the big leagues while most players his age are still in the lower levels of the minors.

Minnesota Twins: CF Byron Buxton

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    SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 30: Byron Buxton #25 of the Minnesota Twins rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres July 30, 2022 at Petco Park in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
    Denis Poroy/Getty Images

    Byron Buxton is trying to reach 100 games played in a season for just the second time in his MLB career, which began in 2015 when he debuted at age 21 with all the hype that comes with being the No. 1 prospect in baseball.

    An All-Star for the first time this season, he has a 141 OPS+ with 27 home runs and 3.5 WAR in 83 games, and during his career he has averaged 5.5 WAR per 162 games played.

    Despite his injury issues, the Twins signed him to a seven-year, $100 million extension in November, and he's the closest thing they have to a true face of the franchise.

    Keep an eye on teenage outfielder Emmanuel Rodriguez, who has an on-base percentage hovering around .500 at Single-A this year. He has a ways to go in his development but possesses the kind of upside to be a face-of-the-franchise-type player if everything clicks.

New York Mets: C Francisco Álvarez

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    ALLENTOWN, PA - AUGUST 02: Francisco Alvarez #19 of the Syracuse Mets in action during a game against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at Coca-Cola Park on August 2, 2022 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Alvarez is the number one ranked prospect in the New York Mets organization. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    The New York Mets have not had a catcher anywhere near the face-of-the-franchise conversation since Mike Piazza finished his run with them in 2005, but that's about to change.

    Francisco Álvarez has a strong case for being the top overall prospect in baseball, as he's hitting .255/.363/.523 with 20 doubles, 23 home runs and 64 RBI in 90 games between Double-A and Triple-A.

    That production becomes all the more impressive when you realize he won't turn 21 years old until November, and while he has slumped a bit since being promoted to Triple-A, all signs point to a bright future as a middle-of-the-order slugger.

    He is still developing defensively, and that means his debut will likely have to wait until early in the 2023 season, but once he arrives he'll have a chance to be an instant star. By 2025, there's a real shot he'll push ahead of Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso and any other big names on the roster as the face of the franchise.

New York Yankees: RF Aaron Judge

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    SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 10: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees celebrates with teammates after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park on August 10, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
    Alika Jenner/Getty Images

    The New York Yankees simply can't afford to let Aaron Judge get away.

    The towering slugger rejected a seven-year, $213.5 million extension offer just before Opening Day, and that looks like a smart move on his part as he's putting together a monster contract year.

    The 30-year-old is hitting .304/.396/.681 with 45 home runs and 99 RBI, and his home run total has him poised for a run at history in September.

    Just as important as his numbers is the fact that he has remained healthy for the second consecutive season after playing in 148 games last year, helping to erase the injury red flags that plagued him early in his career.

    The Yankees have no choice but to swallow their pride and make their star an offer he can't refuse this offseason. Otherwise, top prospect Anthony Volpe becomes the de facto future face of the franchise.

Oakland Athletics: C/1B Tyler Soderstrom

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    DENVER, CO - JULY 11:  Tyler Soderstrom #28 of the American League Team bats during batting practice before the 2021 Sirius XM Futures Game at Coors Field on Sunday, July 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
    Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images

    This was a tough one.

    The Oakland Athletics generally trade their face-of-the-franchise players before they become too expensive or let them walk in free agency, from Jason Giambi to Miguel Tejada to Josh Donaldson to Matt Olson and Matt Chapman.

    Catcher Shea Langeliers could be a franchise cornerstone behind the plate, but his skill set might not be flashy enough to be the face of the team.

    Instead, it's fellow prospect Tyler Soderstrom, with his 60-hit/55-power offensive profile who has the most franchise player potential. The 20-year-old is already playing at Double-A, and with Langeliers viewed as the catcher of the future, he's seeing more time at first base, which should expedite his arrival in the big leagues.

Philadelphia Phillies: RF Bryce Harper

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    WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 17: Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies bats against the Washington Nationals during game one of a doubleheader at Nationals Park on June 17, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
    G Fiume/Getty Images

    Bryce Harper will be 32 years old and in the seventh season of his 13-year, $330 million contract when the 2025 season rolls around.

    After winning his second NL MVP award in 2021, he was having another terrific season before he suffered a fractured thumb on a hit by pitch in late June.

    Thanks to the fact that he debuted at age 19 in 2012, Harper has a chance to chase some significant milestones as the second half of his career unfolds in Philadelphia.

    Despite the criticism that has followed him throughout his career stemming from all the hype he received as an amateur, Harper is still on a Hall of Fame trajectory and is undoubtedly the face of the franchise for the Phillies now and will remain so throughout the remainder of his contract.

Pittsburgh Pirates: SS Oneil Cruz

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 03:  Oneil Cruz #15 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in action during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park on August 3, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
    Joe Sargent/Getty Images

    Thanks to his elite defensive skills, Ke'Bryan Hayes has a chance to be a perennial 5-WAR player for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the front office wisely locked him up with an eight-year, $70 million extension in April.

    However, elite defense and league-average offensive production is generally not the recipe for a face-of-the-franchise player, with someone like Ozzie Smith standing out as an exception.

    Instead, look for Oneil Cruz to emerge as that guy on the strength of his loud physical tools, including light-tower power and an absolute rocket for an arm.

    The 23-year-old is hitting just .212 with an 86 OPS+ in his first extended MLB action, but he has already provided a number of highlight-reel moments, and a stellar track record of production in the minors points to bigger things to come at the plate.

San Diego Padres: SS Fernando Tatis Jr.

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    SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 02: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres bats against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the six inning at Oracle Park on October 02, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    The San Diego Padres will make every effort to sign Juan Soto to a long-term extension after selling the farm to acquire him from the Washington Nationals at the trade deadline.

    If that gets done, the Padres will have three face-of-the-franchise-caliber players, as he'll join Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado as superstars signed long term.

    Assuming all three are still playing together in 2025, any one of them could be viewed as the franchise guy, but since Soto's long-term outlook is up in the air and Machado will be 32 years old and playing in his 14th MLB season, Tatis is the safest bet to be performing at a superstar level in a Padres uniform.

    Still only 23 years old, Tatis is just a year removed from a 42-homer, 25-steal, 6.6-WAR season, and he's signed through 2034 on a massive 14-year, $340 million deal.

San Francisco Giants: SS Marco Luciano

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    MESA, AZ - NOVEMBER 08, 2021: Marco Luciano #7 of the Scottsdale Scorpions bats during a game against the Mesa Solar Sox at Sloan Park on November 8, 2021 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images)
    Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

    With some of the best raw power in the minors and a well-rounded skill set, Marco Luciano has a chance to be the San Francisco Giants' best homegrown player since Buster Posey.

    The 20-year-old has been slowed by a lower back strain this season that cost him two months, but he had an .867 OPS with 16 extra-base hits in 40 games prior to the injury, and he recently returned at the rookie ball level where he's shaking off the rust.

    Considering his average speed and limited range, a move to third base or right field is likely at some point, and he has the power potential and strong throwing arm to be a clean fit at either position.

    Expect to see him make his MLB debut late in the 2023 season with an eye on taking over an everyday role in 2024.

Seattle Mariners: CF Julio Rodríguez

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    SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - JULY 27: Julio Rodriguez #44 of the Seattle Mariners waves to fans after the game against the Texas Rangers at T-Mobile Park on July 27, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Mariners won 4-2. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
    Alika Jenner/Getty Images

    Much like when Ichiro Suzuki burst onto the scene in 2001 and helped lead the Seattle Mariners to a postseason berth, Julio Rodríguez has made an immediate impact for an M's squad looking to return to the playoffs for the first time since Ichiro's debut.

    Just 21 years old for the duration of the 2022 season, Rodriguez is hitting .271/.334/.482 for a 135 OPS+ with 19 doubles, 18 home runs and 57 RBI. On top of his stellar offensive production, he also has 21 steals in 27 attempts and has provided quality defense (4 DRS, 6 OAA) in center field.

    All of that has been worth 4.0 WAR in 96 games, and he is on track to run away with the AL Rookie of the Year voting.

    The Mariners have a lot of promising young talent on the MLB roster and in the upper levels of the minors, but no star is brighter than Rodríguez.

St. Louis Cardinals: 3B Jordan Walker

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 16:  Jordan Walker #22 of the St. Louis Cardinals bats during the 2022 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, July 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
    Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images

    With Paul Goldschmidt under contract through the 2024 season and Nolan Arenado set to turn 34 years old in 2025, there could be a changing of the guard for the St. Louis Cardinals.

    Enter Jordan Walker.

    With a strong 6'5", 220-pound frame that belies the fact that he was playing high school baseball two years ago, Walker checks all the boxes to be baseball's next great power hitter.

    The 20-year-old is batting .305/.391/.509 with 25 doubles, 13 home runs and 49 RBI in 88 games at Double-A this season, showing a more polished approach than expected to go with his light-tower power.

    The Cardinals have received some solid contributions from a wide variety of rookies this season, but Walker has a chance to be an immediate superstar once he gets the call.

Tampa Bay Rays: SS Wander Franco

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    TORONTO, ON - JULY 2: Wander Franco #5 of the Tampa Bay Rays slides into third against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first inning during game one of a doubleheader at the Rogers Centre on July 2, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
    Mark Blinch/Getty Images

    It's been a trying season for Wander Franco, but he's still the present and future face of the franchise for the Tampa Bay Rays.

    The 21-year-old posted a 127 OPS+ and 3.5 WAR in 70 games in his debut last season, and he got off to a hot start this year before slumping and then landing on the injured list with a broken hamate bone in his right wrist.

    One of the most hyped prospects in recent memory, Franco has an elite hit tool and the potential for above-average power production while he contends for batting titles if everything clicks.

    The Rays went all-in when they signed him to an 11-year, $182 million extension during the offseason, so he won't be traded like so many others in the past.

Texas Rangers: SS Corey Seager

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    SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - JULY 27: Corey Seager #5 of the Texas Rangers bats during the fourth inning against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park on July 27, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
    Alika Jenner/Getty Images

    The Texas Rangers shelled out $500 million during the offseason to ink their new middle infield of Marcus Semien and Corey Seager, with Seager receiving the larger slice of the pie in the form of a 10-year, $325 million deal.

    After a slow start, he has rounded into form over the past few months, and he has a 130 OPS+ with 25 home runs and 3.5 WAR in 104 games.

    A move to third base could come at some point when he loses a step, but he has always been an elite offensive contributor and should give the Rangers a cornerstone piece to build around for the next decade.

    He may not be the most hyped prospect, but don't sleep on outfielder Evan Carter as a potential star. He's having a terrific season as a 19-year-old playing at High-A Hickory.

Toronto Blue Jays: 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

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    TORONTO, ON - JULY 26: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays swings against the St. Louis Cardinals in the second inning during their MLB game at the Rogers Centre on July 26, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
    Mark Blinch/Getty Images

    Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will be in his final season of arbitration eligibility in 2025.

    Will the Toronto Blue Jays sign him to a long-term extension before then, or will he find himself in a situation similar to what Aaron Judge is going through this year?

    The 23-year-old Guerrero finished runner-up in AL MVP voting during a breakout 2021 season, and he should find his way onto ballots once again this year with a 143 OPS+ and 23 home runs in a 3.7-WAR season.

    Shortstop Bo Bichette and rising prospect Gabriel Moreno also have to be mentioned in this conversation, but Guerrero is the guy in Toronto now and moving forward as he has already established himself as one of the game's best offensive players.

Washington Nationals: OF James Wood

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    There is a case to be made that C.J. Abrams, MacKenzie Gore and top prospect Robert Hassell III were all higher profile pieces in the Juan Soto blockbuster, but don't be surprised if slugger James Wood turns out to be the best player acquired in that deal.

    Drafted in the second round in 2021 on the strength of his plus raw power, Wood has shown a far more polished offensive game than expected, hitting .325/.437/.563 with 20 doubles, 11 home runs and 50 RBI in 60 games.

    With his 6'7", 240-pound frame, it's easy to dream about his future power potential, and he's a better athlete than you'd expect for a player his size with 18 steals and a chance to stick in center field defensively.

    He is still learning to fully tap into his tremendous power and has yet to see high-level pitching, but all signs point to an extremely bright future as an impact middle-of-the-order player.


    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs and accurate through Wednesday's games. Prospect tool ratings via MLB.com.

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