Which MLB Team Has the Most Elite Young Talent?

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterFebruary 21, 2019

Which MLB Team Has the Most Elite Young Talent?

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    The Braves are looking young and spry.
    The Braves are looking young and spry.John Bazemore/Associated Press

    There is no more valuable currency in Major League Baseball than young talent, and clubs tend to hoard it accordingly.

    Which brings us to the question of the day: Which MLB team has the best collection of young talent?

    We sought to answer this query last season, too, and our method for answering it remains largely unchanged. The emphasis is on quality over quantity, so we put a primary focus on established major leaguers who are 25 years old (seasonally speaking) or younger and a lesser focus on prospects.

    The scoring system works like so:

    • Superstars (10 Points): These are 25-or-younger players who already have at least one five-WAR season—which is roughly the baseline for superstar-level production—under their belts, according to either Baseball Reference or FanGraphs. Only six players fit the bill.
    • Lesser Stars (5 Points): These are 25-or-younger players who have managed at least a two-WAR season or who are projected for one in 2019 by Steamer (keep an eye out for asterisks). A whopping 49 players qualified under these stipulations.
    • Key Prospects (1-3 Points): Prospects got one point for each appearance in the top 100s of Baseball America, ESPN.com and MLB.com.

    There are some players who slipped through the cracks but are nonetheless worth noting. Otherwise, the only thing to know is ties were resolved with judgment calls.

30-21: San Francisco Giants-Washington Nationals

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    Juan Soto
    Juan SotoNick Wass/Associated Press

    30. San Francisco Giants: 4 Points

    Key Prospects (Lists): C Joey Bart (3), OF Heliot Ramos (1)

    This isn't including Steven Duggar, who the San Francisco Giants are counting on to be their leadoff man and center fielder in 2019. But for now, young talent is an alien concept in San Francisco.


    29. Miami Marlins: 5 Points

    Key Prospects (Lists): RHP Sixto Sanchez (3), OF Victor Victor Mesa (2)

    Outfielder Lewis Brinson and right-hander Sandy Alcantara lead a parade of in-between youngsters with potential. Yet it's not a good look that the Miami Marlins' rebuild has only constructed MLB's No. 25 farm system.


    28. Baltimore Orioles: 7 Points

    Key Prospects (Lists): LHP D.L. Hall (3), OF Yusniel Diaz (2), 3B Ryan Mountcastle (2)

    The Baltimore Orioles are in roughly the same boat as the Marlins, except with a more promising farm system (No. 19). It'll look even better if outfielder Austin Hays rebounds from a stock-killing 2018.


    27. Chicago Cubs: 8 Points

    Lesser Stars (High WAR): SS Addison Russell (4.1)

    Key Prospects (Lists): C Miguel Amaya (2), SS Nico Hoerner (1)

    Notably absent from this list are Ian Happ, who has All-Star upside, and fellow outfielder Albert Almora Jr., who's a solid role player. Still, most of the Chicago Cubs' core has aged out of "young" territory.


    26. Seattle Mariners: 9 Points

    Key Prospects (Lists): LHP Justus Sheffield (3), OF Jarred Kelenic (3), RHP Justin Dunn (2), 1B Evan White (1)

    Though Yusei Kikuchi is in Baseball America's top 100, we disagree that a 27-year-old with eight years of pro experience is a prospect. The guy for Seattle Mariners fans to keep an eye on is newcomer J.P. Crawford, who was an elite prospect for the Philadelphia Phillies not too long ago.


    25. Pittsburgh Pirates: 11 Points

    Key Prospects (Lists): RHP Mitch Keller (3), 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes (3), SS Oneil Cruz (3), OF Travis Swaggerty (2)

    This isn't counting Kevin Kramer or Kevin Newman, or fellow middle infielder Cole Tucker. Any of them could make an impact on the Pittsburgh Pirates infield this year.


    24. Boston Red Sox: 11 Points

    Lesser Stars (High WAR): LF Andrew Benintendi (4.3), 3B Rafael Devers (2.7*)

    Key Prospects (Lists): 3B Michael Chavis (1)

    There's little left in the Boston Red Sox's MLB-worst farm system, so it's a good thing they have Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers. The latter, in particular, is a big-time breakout candidate for 2019.


    23. Kansas City Royals: 14 Points

    Lesser Stars (High WAR): RHP Brad Keller (3.2), SS Adalberto Mondesi (3.2)

    Key Prospects (Lists): RHP Brady Singer (2), LHP Daniel Lynch (1), OF Khalil Lee (1)

    Adalberto Mondesi's upside goes a lot higher than Brad Keller's, and first baseman Ryan O'Hearn and outfielder Brett Phillips could also be heard from in 2019. Otherwise, the Kansas City Royals have work to do with their farm system.


    22. Arizona Diamondbacks: 14 Points

    Lesser Stars (High WAR): CF Ketel Marte (3.3)

    Key Prospects (Lists): SS Jazz Chisholm (3), RHP Jon Duplantier (3), RHP Taylor Widener (1), C Daulton Varsho (1), OF Kristian Robinson (1)

    Ketel Marte is a breakout candidate as a center fielder, and additional eyes should be kept on catcher Carson Kelly and right-hander Luke Weaver. The Arizona Diamondbacks also have a somewhat underrated farm system.


    21. Washington Nationals: 14 Points

    Lesser Stars (High WAR): OF Juan Soto (3.7)

    Key Prospects (Lists): OF Victor Robles (3), SS Carter Kieboom (3), INF Luis Garcia (2), RHP Mason Denaburg (1)

    Juan Soto is coming off the best offensive season ever by a teenager. He's mostly surrounded by veterans, but Victor Robles isn't far from becoming the Washington Nationals' other superstar youngster.

20-11: Detroit Tigers-Cleveland Indians

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    Francisco Lindor
    Francisco LindorDavid Dermer/Associated Press

    20. Detroit Tigers: 15 Points

    Lesser Stars (High WAR): 3B Jeimer Candelario (2.5)

    Key Prospects (Lists): RHP Casey Mize (3), RHP Matt Manning (3), SS Isaac Paredes (1), RHP Dane Dunning (1), RHP Franklin Perez (1), OF Daz Cameron (1)

    The Detroit Tigers have designated hitter Christin Stewart and right-hander Joe Jimenez locked into major league roles alongside Jeimer Candelario. They also have a farm system that's nearly ready for the top 10.


    19. Toronto Blue Jays: 15 Points

    Key Prospects (Lists): 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3), SS Bo Bichette (3), RHP Nate Pearson (3), C Danny Jansen (2), RHP Eric Pardinho (2), 3B Jordan Groshans (1), SS Kevin Smith (1)

    Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are two of many goodies within the Toronto Blue Jays' No. 3 farm system. In the meantime, they have potentially solid regulars in shortstop Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and outfielder Billy McKinney at the major league level.


    18. Milwaukee Brewers: 15 Points

    Lesser Stars (High WAR): LHP Josh Hader (2.7), SS Orlando Arcia (2.5)

    Key Prospects (Lists): 2B Keston Hiura (3), RHP Corbin Burnes (1), RHP Zack Brown (1)

    Josh Hader is on the short list for the most dominant relief pitchers in MLB, and Orlando Arcia at least brings slick defense to the table. Also worth mentioning is pitcher Freddy Peralta, who should produce in some capacity for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2019.


    17. Colorado Rockies: 16 Points

    Lesser Stars (High WAR): RHP German Marquez (4.7), RHP Antonio Senzatela (2.1)

    Key Prospects (Lists): INF Brendan Rodgers (3), 2B Garrett Hampson (1), 3B Colton Welker (1), RHP Peter Lambert (1)

    German Marquez was as good as any pitcher not named Jacob deGrom in the second half of 2018. And if Antonio Senzatela doesn't live up to his billing in 2019, outfielder David Dahl or infielder Ryan McMahon might surpass theirs for the Colorado Rockies this year.


    16. Philadelphia Phillies: 17 Points

    Lesser Stars (High WAR): RHP Seranthony Dominguez (2.4), RHP Zach Eflin (2.2)

    Key Prospects (Lists): 3B Alec Bohm (2), SS Luis Garcia (2), RHP Adonis Medina (1), RHP Spencer Howard (1), LHP JoJo Romero (1)

    Right-hander Victor Arano actually qualified as a lesser star, but Roster Resource is correct in projecting him to fall short of the Philadelphia Phillies' Opening Day roster. On the plus side, outfielder Nick Williams and shortstop Scott Kingery can more than make up for his absence.


    15. Cincinnati Reds: 19 Points

    Lesser Stars (High WAR): SS Jose Peraza (2.7)

    Key Prospects (Lists): INF/OF Nick Senzel (3), OF Taylor Trammell (3), 3B Jonathan India (3), RHP Hunter Greene (3), RHP Tony Santillan (2)

    The Cincinnati Reds' No. 6 farm system is the star of the show here, but don't overlook outfielder Jesse Winker or right-handers Tyler Mahle and Sal Romano, as they round out the team's cast of young stars.


    14. New York Mets: 19 Points

    Lesser Stars (High WAR): RHP Edwin Diaz (3.5), SS Amed Rosario (2.0*)

    Key Prospects (Lists): SS Andres Gimenez (3), 1B Peter Alonso (3), SS Ronny Mauricio (2), 3B Mark Vientos (1)

    Edwin Diaz, formerly of the Mariners, was the best reliever in MLB last season. Like Arcia in Milwaukee, Amed Rosario at least has a good glove to offer the New York Mets. Further, right-hander Robert Gsellman is a versatile reliever deserving of a shoutout.


    13. Oakland Athletics: 19 Points

    Lesser Stars (High WAR): 1B Matt Olson (4.3), CF Ramon Laureano (2.1)

    Key Prospects (Lists): LHP Jesus Luzardo (3), LHP A.J. Puk (3), C Sean Murphy (3)

    Matt Olson might be the best first baseman in the American League, and Ramon Laureano looks like an underrated rising star. Infielder Franklin Barreto, formerly a top prospect, is another youngster who can make a name for himself with the Oakland Athletics.


    12. Los Angeles Angels: 22 Points

    Lesser Stars (High WAR): DH Shohei Ohtani (2.8), RHP Jaime Barria (2.6), 2B David Fletcher (2.0)

    Key Prospects (Lists): OF Jo Adell (3), RHP Griffin Canning (3), OF Brandon Marsh (1)

    Alas, Shohei Ohtani is only a DH this year. But he has superstar ability even in that capacity, and neither Jaime Barria nor David Fletcher should be underestimated as regular contributors for the Los Angeles Angels. Meanwhile, Jo Adell is trending toward the inner circle of household-name prospects.


    11. Cleveland Indians: 22 Points

    Superstars (High WAR): SS Francisco Lindor (7.9)

    Lesser Stars (High WAR): RHP Shane Bieber (2.8)

    Key Prospects (Lists): RHP Triston McKenzie (3), 3B Nolan Jones (3), C/3B Noah Naylor (1)

    Without question, Francisco Lindor is the MLB's best 25-and-under player. Shane Bieber is much better than last year's 4.55 ERA suggests. And don't overlook left-handed slugger Jake Bauers, who could supply the Cleveland Indians with a good deal of power.

10. New York Yankees (23 Points)

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    Gleyber Torres (L) and Miguel Andujar (R)
    Gleyber Torres (L) and Miguel Andujar (R)Mark Brown/Getty Images

    Superstars (High WAR): RHP Luis Severino (5.8)

    Lesser Stars (High WAR): 2B Gleyber Torres (2.9), 3B Miguel Andujar (2.7)

    Key Prospects (Lists): OF Estevan Florial (1), RHP Jonathan Loaisiga (1), RHP Deivi Garcia (1)


    It wasn't long ago that the New York Yankees farm system was bursting at the seams with talent. But as is usually the case, wins at the major league level have coincided with an exodus of talent from the minors.

    The big silver lining, however, is that some of said talent has found its way to the Bronx. 

    Miguel Andujar, 23, made a star of himself with an .855 OPS and 27 home runs last season. Gleyber Torres faded after he suffered a right hip strain in July, yet he still mustered an .820 OPS and 24 homers. With good health should come an even more impressive breakout for the 22-year-old in 2019.

    Luis Severino, who turned 25 Wednesday, was last seen in a slump that lasted through the bitter end of New York's season in October. Yet he still has a magnificent right arm attached to his person, and the 2.60 ERA he posted over 49 starts between April 2017 and July 2018 is evidence of what he can do with it.

    Also worth mentioning is Clint Frazier. The hype surrounding him is long dead, but the 24-year-old is only one injury away from getting a shot at stardom in the majors.

9. Chicago White Sox (24 Points)

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    Eloy Jimenez
    Eloy JimenezRon Vesely/Getty Images

    Lesser Stars (High WAR): RHP Reynaldo Lopez (3.1), 2B Yoan Moncada (2.0)

    Key Prospects (Lists): OF Eloy Jimenez (3), RHP Michael Kopech (3), RHP Dylan Cease (3), OF Luis Robert (3), 2B Nick Madrigal (2)


    Optimism about the Chicago White Sox's future flows from their farm system, which revolves around Eloy Jimenez.

    Jimenez isn't much of a prospect outside the batter's box. Inside said box, however, he has the most upside of anyone who doesn't have Guerrero blood flowing through his veins. Jimenez, 22, has done better than a .900 OPS in each of the last two minor league seasons, and his power is already the stuff of legend.

    Though he'll miss 2019 recovering from Tommy John surgery, Michael Kopech is to power-pitching prospects what Jimenez is to the power-hitting variety. Though his fastball climbed "only" as high as 98.5 mph in his major league cameo last season, the 22-year-old's top speed is 105 mph.

    Chicago's cache of young talent isn't as exciting if the focus is narrowed to its major leaguers, but it's not all bad. Yoan Moncada, 23, has the raw talent to be a superstar. Reynaldo Lopez, 25, is the most advanced of the team's young hurlers.

    Speaking of which, Lucas Giolito shouldn't be left for dead just yet. The 24-year-old may be coming off a 6.13 ERA, but there were moments in July and August when he teased a breakout.

8. St. Louis Cardinals (24 Points)

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    Jack Flaherty
    Jack FlahertyDaniel Shirey/Getty Images

    Lesser Stars (High WAR): CF Harrison Bader (3.8), SS Paul DeJong (3.8), RHP Jack Flaherty (2.6)

    Key Prospects (Lists): RHP Alex Reyes (3), 3B Nolan Gorman (3), 3B Eli Montero (2), RHP Dakota Hudson (1)


    Alas, the St. Louis Cardinals' best prospect is at a frustrating crossroads.

    Alex Reyes looked like the next big thing when the Cardinals called him up in 2016, but then he underwent Tommy John surgery in February 2017. He seemed to be ready to make a roaring comeback in 2018, but then his shoulder quit on him. Now the Cardinals don't know what to expect out of the 24-year-old.

    "I do think that's going to be one of those wait-and-see [approaches]," president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said last December, per Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com.

    But if Reyes' uncertain situation is a knock against St. Louis' farm system, the team's young major leaguers are more than worth going to bat for.

    Harrison Bader, 24, might be the game's best defensive outfielder. Paul DeJong, 25, is a far better slugger than most shortstops. Jack Flaherty, 23, whiffed 10.8 batters per nine innings as a rookie last year.

    Not even pictured are right-hander Jordan Hicks or outfielder Tyler O'Neill. The former has enough of an arm to improve on last season's subdued results. The latter—who, despite his appearance in Baseball America's top 100, lost his rookie eligibility in 2018—has the sheer manpower to be a great slugger.

7. Texas Rangers (27 Points)

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    Joey Gallo
    Joey GalloRichard Rodriguez/Getty Images

    Lesser Stars (High WAR): LF Joey Gallo (3.2), 2B Rougned Odor (2.7), RHP Jose Leclerc (2.5), RF Nomar Mazara (2.0*)

    Key Prospects (Lists): RHP Hans Crouse (3), RHP Cole Winn (2), OF Julio Pablo Martinez (1), OF Leody Taveras (1)


    The Texas Rangers have a middle-of-the-road (No. 14, to be exact) farm system and a collection of young major league stars who barely qualify as "stars." So, an explainer is in order.

    Joey Gallo and Rougned Odor, both 25, eschew consistency in favor of explosiveness at the dish. But it mostly works. Gallo ranks fourth in homers (81) since 2017 and has a walk rate that's tied for ninth. Odor hit 63 homers across 2016 and 2017, and he was last seen making big strides in the second half of 2018.

    Though he's had a disappointing major league career, Nomar Mazara might have more upside than either of those two. The 23-year-old has consistently provided 20 homers for three years, and he's been addressing weaknesses in his overall offensive profile one by one.

    Jose Leclerc, meanwhile, has nothing to prove after posting a 1.56 ERA and striking out 13.3 batters per nine innings in 2018. The 25-year-old is one of the game's best relievers, full-stop.

    The big wild card in Texas is Willie Calhoun. The 24-year-old is a man without a clear role, but that'll change if he recaptures the form that led to a .927 OPS and 31 homers in the minors two years ago.

6. Minnesota Twins (28 Points)

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    Byron Buxton
    Byron BuxtonHannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Superstars (High WAR): CF Byron Buxton (5.2)

    Lesser Stars (High WAR): RHP Jose Berrios (3.9), SS Jorge Polanco (2.2)

    Key Prospects (Lists): SS Royce Lewis (3), OF Alex Kirilloff (3), RHP Brusdar Graterol (2)


    Ah, Byron Buxton. What are you to the Minnesota Twins?

    He was an elite prospect as recently as 2016 and a rising star as recently as 2017, when he combined his power, speed and defense into a 5.2-WAR package. But his star promptly fell in 2018, in which he was limited to 28 games by a broken toe and a protracted banishment to the minors.

    Nevertheless, it would be foolish for anyone to give up on Buxton. The superstar-level talent is there, and the 25-year-old is going into 2019 with a sizable chip on his shoulder.

    If Buxton can't be Minnesota's resident young superstar, Jose Berrios can be. The 24-year-old was an All-Star last season, and his upside goes well beyond his 3.84 ERA.

    For his part, 25-year-old Jorge Polanco picked up where he left off following an 80-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs in 2018. Since 2016, he's played a solid shortstop while providing roughly league-average offense.

    Elsewhere, Minnesota's No. 9 farm system is headed by arguably the AL's best shortstop prospect in Royce Lewis. Also deserving of attention are left-hander Stephen Gonsalves and right-hander Fernando Romero, who are ready to help the Twins starting rotation and bullpen, respectively.

5. San Diego Padres (32 Points)

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    Fernando Tatis Jr.
    Fernando Tatis Jr.Andy Hayt/Getty Images

    Lesser Stars (High WAR): CF Manuel Margot (2.5)

    Key Prospects (Lists): SS Fernando Tatis Jr. (3), LHP MacKenzie Gore (3), 2B Luis Urias (3), C Francisco Mejia (3), LHP Adrian Morejon (3), RHP Chris Paddack (3), RHP Luis Patino (3), LHP Logan Allen (3), 1B Josh Naylor (1), RHP Michael Baez (1), LHP Ryan Weathers (1)


    The big reason the San Diego Padres are here is the same reason to believe their signing of Manny Machado won't go to waste: Their farm system is loaded beyond loaded.

    We have it ranked No. 1 on the strength of both its depth and the sheer talent at the top. The best of the best is Fernando Tatis Jr., who projects as an MVP-caliber star at shortstop. Just take it from his old man, who enjoyed 11 solid seasons in the majors.

    "This kid is getting ready to open some eyes," Fernando Tatis Sr. told Dennis Lin of The Athletic. "He can do it all. He can run, he can field, he can play some defense, he can throw and he can hit for power."

    Tatis should join the Padres at some point in 2019. Second baseman Luis Urias and catcher Francisco Mejia, who are also arguably the best prospects at their respective positions, will already be in place when he does.

    The Padres otherwise aren't as lacking in established young talent as it might seem. They at least know that Manuel Margot, 24, can defend his position. Fellow outfielders Franchy Cordero, 24, and Franmil Reyes, 23, are exciting talents in their own right.

4. Los Angeles Dodgers (34 Points)

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    Walker Buehler
    Walker BuehlerJae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Superstars (High WAR): SS Corey Seager (7.0)

    Lesser Stars (High WAR): 1B/OF Cody Bellinger (4.2), RHP Walker Buehler (3.4)

    Key Prospects (Lists): C Keibert Ruiz (3), OF Alex Verdugo (3), SS/2B Gavin Lux (3), RHP Dustin May (3), C Will Smith (2)


    It's not on the level of San Diego's, but the Los Angeles Dodgers farm system is good enough to rank within MLB's top 10. That speaks to the care it's been treated with even as the Dodgers have been chasing an elusive World Series title.

    But enough about that. The real point is that Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger and Walker Buehler arguably make up the best trio of young stars in Major League Baseball.

    Assuming Seager can make a strong comeback from Tommy John surgery, the Dodgers are set to regain a 24-year-old who was an All-Star and MVP contender when healthy. Seager averaged an .867 OPS and 24 homers while playing a good shortstop in 2016 and 2017.

    Bellinger was a revelation as a rookie in 2017, posting a .933 OPS and setting a new NL rookie record with 39 homers. Even in "regressing" last year, he still managed an .814 OPS and 25 homers.

    At last check, the 24-year-old Buehler was the best pitcher on the Dodgers by a wide margin. With the help of an utterly electric repertoire, he finished the regular season with a 1.55 ERA over his final 12 starts. His final act was to throw seven shutout innings in Game 3 of the World Series.

3. Tampa Bay Rays (39 Points)

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    Willy Adames
    Willy AdamesJason Miller/Getty Images

    Lesser Stars (High WAR): 2B Daniel Robertson (2.6), SS Willy Adames (2.0), LHP Jose Alvarado (2.0)

    Key Prospects (Lists): SS Wander Franco (3), RHP Brent Honeywell (3), LHP/DH Brendan McKay (3), C Ronaldo Hernandez (3), LHP Matthew Liberatore (3), OF Jesus Sanchez (3), 2B Vidal Brujan (2), 2B Brandon Lowe (1), 1B Nate Lowe (1) RHP Shane Baz (1), SS Lucius Fox (1)


    There's plenty to say about the Tampa Bay Rays' No. 5 farm system. To choose just a couple of things: It features a dude who's trying to bring back the screwball (Brent Honeywell) and another dude (Brendan McKay) who's trying to prove that Ohtani isn't the only modern-day Babe Ruth.

    The emphasis, however, is on the underappreciated collection of young players the Rays can use right now

    Start with Willy Adames. The 23-year-old didn't stand out in 2018, but something clicked when he finished the year with an .886 OPS over 51 games. Any more of that, and the Rays will have a franchise shortstop.

    Daniel Robertson, meanwhile, quietly amassed a .797 OPS as a platoon infielder last season. Jose Alvarado used a 97.4 mph average fastball to strike out 11.3 batters per nine innings. He's set to be Tampa Bay's de facto closer in 2019, which could eventually lead him to All-Star recognition.

    If bonus points were possible, the Rays would get a bevy of them for all the youngsters who didn't warrant actual points. These include right-hander Tyler Glasnow and outfielder Austin Meadows—each of whom is a breakout candidate for 2019—as well as Yonny Chirinos, Jake Faria, Jalen Beeks and Christian Arroyo.

2. Houston Astros (41 Points)

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    Carlos Correa (L) and Alex Bregman (R)
    Carlos Correa (L) and Alex Bregman (R)Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Superstars (High WAR): 3B Alex Bregman (7.6), SS Carlos Correa (6.3)

    Lesser Stars (High WAR): RHP Roberto Osuna (2.9)

    Key Prospects (Lists): RHP Forrest Whitley (3), OF Kyle Tucker (3), RHP Josh James (3), RHP Corbin Martin (3), OF Yordan Alvarez (2), RHP J.B. Bukauskas (2)


    By our rules, the Houston Astros are the only team with more than one young superstar. 

    Alex Bregman, 24, was in the majors roughly a year after the Astros drafted him at No. 2 overall in 2015, and his path has been one of near-constant improvement. If he stays on it, the .926 OPS and 83 extra-base hits he posted in 2018 won't be his peak.

    Carlos Correa, also 24, has had ups and downs in four seasons in the majors—with the worst down being an injury-marred 2018 campaign. But if he stays healthy in 2019, he should regain the form that led to the AL Rookie of the Year in 2015 and six-WAR seasons in 2016 and 2017.

    Roberto Osuna, yet another 24-year-old, missed much of 2018 because of a 75-game suspension stemming from an assault charge. The Astros traded for him anyway, and they should get their money's worth out of him if he lives up to a track record that includes a 2.78 ERA and a 6.3 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

    The Astros also have MLB's No. 7 farm system, which is headlined by three players they can use this year: Josh James, Forrest Whitley and Kyle Tucker.

    Unlike Kopech, we chose not to count 25-year-old Lance McCullers Jr. while he recovers from Tommy John surgery. Perhaps that's not fair, but it seemed less fair to elevate the Astros to this list's top spot on the points of an established star who won't even play in 2019.

1. Atlanta Braves (45 Points)

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    Ozzie Albies (L) and Ronald Acuna Jr. (R)
    Ozzie Albies (L) and Ronald Acuna Jr. (R)Eric Espada/Getty Images

    Lesser Stars (High War): LF Ronald Acuna Jr. (4.1), 2B Ozzie Albies (3.8), INF Johan Camargo (3.7), SS Dansby Swanson (2.3)

    Key Prospects (Lists): 3B Austin Riley (3), RHP Ian Anderson (3), RHP Mike Soroka (3), RHP Kyle Wright (3), RHP Touki Toussaint (3), RHP Bryse Wilson (3), OF Drew Waters (3), OF Christian Pache (3), C William Contreras (1)


    Honestly, is anyone surprised to see the Atlanta Braves here?

    Their core of young major league talent is led by Ronald Acuna Jr., who was last seen winning the NL Rookie of the Year. If he carries over the form of a second half in which he had a 1.028 OPS and 19 homers, the NL MVP will be within his reach in 2019. And he's still only 21 years old.

    Acuna should also net one thing that Ozzie Albies, 22, already has: an All-Star selection. Albies earned his amid a sophomore campaign in 2018 that ended with a .757 OPS and 24 homers. 

    Dansby Swanson, 25, is an excellent defensive shortstop. Johan Camargo, also 25, deserves better than a utility infield role after the season he had a year ago, but it's nonetheless a role he can excel in.

    The Braves also boast a left-handed version of Craig Kimbrel in the person of A.J. Minter. The reliever hasn't had an All-Star breakout yet, but one could come as soon as this year if he closes games effectively.

    Underneath all this is the No. 2 farm system in MLB, which is more well-stocked with pitchers than your local Bed, Bath and Beyond. Mike Soroka, Kyle Wright and Touki Toussaint are three who are ready to contribute. Should Josh Donaldson falter at third base, Austin Riley will be there to take his spot.


    Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.