Every MLB Team's Most Promising Young Star of the Future

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2020

Every MLB Team's Most Promising Young Star of the Future

0 of 30

    G Fiume/Getty Images

    Each MLB roster has at least one player who can be identified as an integral piece of the club's long-term plans.

    Whether you want to call them cornerstones or franchise building blocks, these are the players teams have penciled in to their spots on the roster for the foreseeable future.

    So let's identify the players.

    As we sought each team's most promising young building block, the following criteria helped narrow the search:

    • Age: Since we're talking about "young" players, the first step was to establish an age range. We went with everyone who will be 27 or younger on Opening Day (March 26) this year.
    • Control: If a player is going to be a building block, it stands to reason that he needs to be under team control for at least a few years, so only players with at least three remaining years of control were considered.
    • MLB experience: Tempting as it was to call Adley Rutschman, Casey Mize and Joey Bart the building blocks for their teams, let's wait until they make their MLB debuts before we anoint them as franchise cornerstones.

    Simple enough, right?

    Let's get started.

Arizona Diamondbacks: CF/2B Ketel Marte

1 of 30

    Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

    Age: 26

    Contract: Signed through 2024

    A strong finish to the 2018 season made Ketel Marte a popular breakout candidate heading into 2019, and he did not disappoint.

    He hit .329/.389/.592 for a 149 OPS+ with 36 doubles, nine triples and 32 home runs in a 6.9 WAR season to finish fourth in National League MVP voting.

    Originally a prospect in the Mariners farm system, he was acquired in the five-player deal that sent Mitch Haniger and Jean Segura to Seattle. He signed a five-year, $24 million extension that includes a pair of club options prior to the 2018 season and will be asked to shoulder a big chunk of the offensive load in the years to come.

         

    Honorable Mentions

    SP Zac Gallen (24), C Carson Kelly (25), SP Luke Weaver (26)

Atlanta Braves: CF Ronald Acuna Jr.

2 of 30

    Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

    Age: 22

    Contract: Signed through 2028

    The Atlanta Braves have an excellent young core already in place at the MLB level and a deep farm system that promises to produce more impact contributors in the years to come.

    The emergence of Mike Soroka as the ace of the staff was a major development in 2019, and Ozzie Albies had another solid season, but it's hard to make a case for anyone but Ronald Acuna Jr. He followed his NL Rookie of the Year performance with a 40-40 run, finishing with 41 home runs and 37 steals in a 5.5 WAR season.

    He signed an eight-year, $100 million extension in April, setting a record for the largest deal ever given to a player with less than one year of MLB service time. With a pair of $17 million options tacked on the end, he is controllable through the 2028 season.

          

    Honorable Mentions

    2B Ozzie Albies (23), SP Max Fried (26), SP Mike Soroka (22)

Baltimore Orioles: SP John Means

3 of 30

    Mark Cunningham/Getty Images

    Age: 26

    Contract: Pre-arbitration, under control through 2024

    One of the few bright spots for the 108-loss Baltimore Orioles, left-hander John Means quietly pitched his way to a second-place finish in AL Rookie of the Year voting.

    An 11th-round pick in the 2014 draft, Means posted a 3.60 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 121 strikeouts in 155 innings, earning a spot on the American League All-Star team.

    His 4.41 FIP and lack of swing-and-miss stuff limit his upside, but there's no reason to believe he can't be a solid rotation options for the foreseeable future.

         

    Honorable Mentions

    CF Austin Hays (24)

Boston Red Sox: 3B Rafael Devers

4 of 30

    Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

    Age: 23

    Contract: Pre-arbitration, under control through 2023

    Rafael Devers already had two MLB seasons under his belt before the 2019 season, so it was easy to forget he was still just 22 years old.

    After posting a middling 94 OPS+ with 21 home runs during his first full season in the majors, he reminded everyone why he was widely regarded as one of baseball's top prospects during his time in the Boston Red Sox farm system with a breakout season.

    He hit .311/.361/.555 for a 133 OPS+ and tallied 54 doubles and 32 home runs en route to leading the majors with 359 total bases. He also made modest strides in the field, improving his 2018 metrics (-13 DRS, -5.2 UZR/150) but still grading out below average (-6 DRS, 2.4 UZR/150).

         

    Honorable Mentions

    LF Andrew Benintendi (25)

Chicago Cubs: C Willson Contreras

5 of 30

    Quinn Harris/Getty Images

    Age: 27

    Contract: Arbitration-eligible, under control through 2022

    Javier Baez and Kris Bryant have just two years of team control remaining, and Nico Hoerner has just 20 MLB games under his belt, so there was only one answer for the Chicago Cubs.

    Despite hearing his name pop up in trade rumors this offseason, Willson Contreras is still on the roster, and he is 27 with three years of club control remaining.

    While his defensive game is still a work-in-progress, he made strides in that area last season and remains one of the sport's elite offensive backstops. An All-Star for the second year in a row in 2019, he set career highs in OPS+ (125) and home runs (24), despite playing in just 105 games while battling a leg injury.

            

    Honorable Mentions

    SP Adbert Alzolay (25), 2B/SS Nico Hoerner (22)

Chicago White Sox: SP Lucas Giolito

6 of 30

    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Age: 25

    Contract: Pre-arbitration, under control through 2023

    There's a case to be made for several Chicago White Sox players. Yoan Moncada posted a 141 OPS+ with 64 extra-base hits and 4.6 WAR in a breakout season, Tim Anderson won the AL batting title with a .335 average, and Eloy Jimenez socked 31 home runs as a rookie.

    However, with Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Cease struggling to find consistency, Carlos Rodon unable to stay healthy and Michael Kopech recovering from Tommy John surgery, the emergence of Lucas Giolito as a bona fide ace had a far greater impact on the franchise.

    Giolito took his lumps in 2018, struggling to a 6.13 ERA in 173.1 innings. He was a different pitcher last season, though, posting a 3.41 ERA and 1.06 WHIP with 228 strikeouts in 176.2 innings to finish sixth in AL Cy Young Award voting. He threw three complete games and two shutouts, proving virtually unhittable when everything was clicking.

         

    Honorable Mentions

    SS Tim Anderson (26), LF Eloy Jimenez (23), 3B Yoan Moncada (24)

Cincinnati Reds: SP Luis Castillo

7 of 30

    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Age: 27

    Contract: Pre-arbitration, under control through 2023

    Aristides Aquino and Nick Senzel still have something to prove, and Jesse Winker profiles more as a solid complementary piece than a face of the franchise. So, Luis Castillo got the nod for the Cincinnati Reds heading into his age-27 season.

    Traded twice before he made his MLB debut, Castillo showed flashes during his first two seasons in the majors before breaking out in 2019. The right-hander posted a 3.40 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 226 strikeouts in 190.2 innings, earning a spot on the NL All-Star team.

    He'll once again be asked to anchor the starting staff alongside Sonny Gray for a team eyeing contention.

         

    Honorable Mentions

    RF Aristides Aquino (25), CF Nick Senzel (24), LF Jesse Winker (26)

Cleveland Indians: SP Shane Bieber

8 of 30

    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    Age: 24

    Contract: Pre-arbitration, under control through 2024

    With Francisco Lindor two years away from free agency and Jose Ramirez coming off an up-and-down season, breakout pitcher Shane Bieber looks like the most obvious young building block on the Cleveland Indians roster.

    There were signs of bigger things to come during a forgettable rookie season in 2018. Behind his 4.55 ERA was a 3.23 FIP and an excellent 118-to-23 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 114.2 innings. Sure enough, those peripherals proved to be an accurate predictor.

    The right-hander posted a 3.28 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 259 strikeouts in 214.1 innings to finish fourth in AL Cy Young Award balloting. He led the league in walk rate (1.7 BB/9) and tied for the lead in complete games (three) and shutouts (two), and with Corey Kluber gone, he profiles as the ace of the staff.

        

    Honorable Mentions

    3B Jose Ramirez (27)

Colorado Rockies: SP German Marquez

9 of 30

    Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

    Age: 24

    Contract: Signed through 2024

    Shortstop Trevor Story has just two years of control remaining, and after the Colorado Rockies spent big to extend Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado, it remains to be seen if they will have the money to lock him up long-term.

    Top prospect Brendan Rodgers has yet to establish himself at the MLB level, left-hander Kyle Freeland took a huge step backward after a stellar 2018 season, and All-Star outfielder David Dahl was worth just 0.4 WAR in 2019.

    That leaves German Marquez as the closest thing to a building block. The Rockies gave him a five-year, $43 million extension last April, and while he failed to match his 2018 success, he was still a quality starter with a 109 ERA+ and 175 strikeouts in 174 innings who turned in a 3.5 WAR season.

         

    Honorable Mentions

    OF David Dahl (25)

Detroit Tigers: SP Spencer Turnbull

10 of 30

    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    Age: 27

    Contract: Pre-arbitration, under control through 2024

    Here's a side-by-side comparison:

    Pitcher A is Matthew Boyd, who was one of the more popular names on the summer trade market. He has swing-and-miss stuff with 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings, but he also fell off dramatically down the stretch while allowing an AL-high 39 home runs.

    Pitcher B is Spencer Turnbull, whom most casual baseball fans have probably never heard of. He uses a heavy mid-90s fastball to induce a lot of ground balls while also missing his fair share of bats.

    Boyd is already 28 years old, so he was not eligible for inclusion, but it's still an interesting comparison of one pitcher who is talked about often and another who has flown under the radar.

         

    Honorable Mentions

    None

Houston Astros: 3B Alex Bregman

11 of 30

    Elsa/Getty Images

    Age: 25

    Contract: Signed through 2024

    The Houston Astros gave Alex Bregman a five-year, $100 million extension in March after he posted a 152 OPS+ with 51 doubles and 31 home runs during a breakout 6.9 WAR season in 2018.

    Turns out the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 draft was just getting started. In 2019, he hit .296/.423/.592 for a 162 OPS+ while launching 41 home runs and tallying more walks (119) than strikeouts (83) for the second straight year on his way to 8.4 WAR.

    Simply put, Bregman is one of the game's brightest young stars, and while the Astros have some big decisions to make in the years to come regarding key pieces such as George Springer and Carlos Correa, Bregman is not going anywhere.

         

    Honorable Mentions

    DH Yordan Alvarez (22)

Kansas City Royals: SS Adalberto Mondesi

12 of 30

    Ed Zurga/Getty Images

    Age: 24

    Contract: Pre-arbitration, under control through 2023

    The Kansas City Royals have built a strong farm system led by shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. and former collegiate standouts Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar and Daniel Lynch, and the future looks bright for the small market squad.

    They are sorely lacking in young, controllable pieces at the MLB level, however.

    Speedy shortstop Adalberto Mondesi is the closest thing they have to a building block who fits within the age parameters. His 43 steals and 10 triples speak to his game-changing wheels, and he played a solid shortstop (10 DRS, 11.7 UZR/150), but his .291 on-base percentage and 29.8 percent strikeout rate will need to improve.

         

    Honorable Mentions

    SP Brad Keller (24)

Los Angeles Angels: DH/SP Shohei Ohtani

13 of 30

    Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

    Age: 25

    Contract: Pre-arbitration, under control through 2023

    While he hasn't thrown an MLB pitch since Sept. 2, 2018, Shohei Ohtani has still established himself as an impact player at the plate for the Los Angeles Angels.

    In 792 plate appearances over the past two seasons, he's hit .286/.351/.532 for a 135 OPS+ with 40 home runs and 22 steals, posting 5.2 WAR from his designated hitter role.

    The two-way phenom is expected to return to the mound in 2020, and after he posted a 3.31 ERA with 63 strikeouts in 51.2 innings as a rookie, it's clear he's capable of being a game-changing player alongside established superstars Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon.

         

    Honorable Mentions

    SP Griffin Canning (23), 3B/2B David Fletcher (25)

Los Angeles Dodgers: SP Walker Buehler

14 of 30

    Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    Age: 25

    Contract: Pre-arbitration, under control through 2024

    The easy pick would be reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger, who is fresh off a 9.0 WAR season in which he posted a 169 OPS+ with 47 home runs while also establishing himself as a Gold Glove right fielder.

    Budding ace Walker Buehler, however, might be the more important long-term piece. Clayton Kershaw is 31 years old and hasn't reached 200 innings since 2015. Hyun-Jin Ryu is gone. Rich Hill is gone. Kenta Maeda does not have a clearly defined role. Julio Urias and Dustin May have a ton of potential—and a lot to prove.

    Meanwhile, Buehler followed a brilliant rookie season with another strong showing, raising his strikeout rate (9.9 to 10.6 K/9) and lowering his walk rate (2.4 to 1.8 BB/9) while posting a 3.26 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 215 strikeouts in 182.1 innings to finish ninth in NL Cy Young Award voting.

         

    Honorable Mentions

    RF Cody Bellinger (24), C Will Smith (24), LHP Julio Urias (23), CF Alex Verdugo (23)

Miami Marlins: 3B/RF Brian Anderson

15 of 30

    Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

    Age: 26

    Contract: Pre-arbitration, under control through 2023

    With strong on-base skills, decent pop and the defensive versatility to effectively man third base or a corner outfield spot, Brian Anderson has already proved to be a valuable player for the rebuilding Miami Marlins.

    He's been worth 7.7 WAR during his first two full seasons in the majors and showed a nice uptick in his power production last season, raising his home run total from 11 to 20 and spiking his slugging percentage from .400 to .468.

    After the front office blew things up and traded a number of veteran pieces, Anderson is also one of the few homegrown players remaining. The Marlins selected him in the third round of the 2014 draft.

         

    Honorable Mentions

    SP Sandy Alcantara (24), C Jorge Alfaro (26)

Milwaukee Brewers: 2B Keston Hiura

16 of 30

    Quinn Harris/Getty Images

    Age: 23

    Contract: Pre-arbitration, under control through 2025

    Keston Hiura was called up for good June 28 last season, and by August he was hitting cleanup for the contending Milwaukee Brewers.

    While there are still some questions about his defense, he can flat-out hit.

    Along with a .329/.407/.681 line and 19 home runs in 57 games at Triple-A, he hit .303/.368/.570 for a 138 OPS+ with 23 doubles and 19 home runs over 348 plate appearances in MLB. A full season of Hiura and a healthy Christian Yelich could give the Brewers one of the more productive offensive duos in baseball in 2020.

         

    Honorable Mentions

    RP Josh Hader (25), SP Brandon Woodruff (27)

Minnesota Twins: SP Jose Berrios

17 of 30

    Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    Age: 25

    Contract: Pre-arbitration, under control through 2022

    Entering his age-26 season, Jose Berrios is the unquestioned ace of the Minnesota Twins, and that's enough to push him ahead of Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco for the title of top building block on the roster.

    An AL All-Star in each of the past two seasons, Berrios posted a 3.68 ERA and 1.22 WHIP with 195 strikeouts in a career-high 200.1 innings in 2019.

    As the No. 32 overall pick in the 2012 draft, he is the highest-drafted pitcher ever out of Puerto Rico, and in the early stages of his MLB career he has lived up to the hype. For a team that is stacked on offense and light on pitching, he looks like a prime candidate for early extension talks.

         

    Honorable Mentions

    IF/OF Luis Arraez (22), OF Max Kepler (27), SS Jorge Polanco (26)

New York Mets: 1B Pete Alonso

18 of 30

    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Age: 25

    Contract: Pre-arbitration, under control through 2024

    All due respect to Jeff McNeil, who is a .321/.383/.513 career hitter over 815 plate appearances, but there's really no debate.

    By slugging a rookie-record 53 home runs in 2019 while hitting .260/.358/.583 for a 148 OPS+, Pete Alonso established himself as the new face of the New York Mets, at least at the plate.

    He faces a tall order trying to live up to the bar he set, and his 183 strikeouts and 26.4 percent strikeout rate could be an issue as pitchers come up with better game plans on how to attack him. The power is for real, though, and he should be a perennial threat for 40-plus long balls.

         

    Honorable Mentions

    2B/OF Jeff McNeil (27), CF Brandon Nimmo (26), SS Amed Rosario (24)

New York Yankees: SS Gleyber Torres

19 of 30

    Elsa/Getty Images

    Age: 23

    Contract: Pre-arbitration, under control through 2024

    Aaron Judge is still eligible for this list as he enters his age-28 season with three remaining years of team control.

    Between the time he's missed to injury over the past two seasons and the departure of Didi Gregorius, however, a more compelling case can be made that Gleyber Torres is the team's most important young building block.

    After bouncing between second base and shortstop in his first two seasons, Torres will take over as the full-time shortstop, which only adds to his impact. He's still so young, and after he posted a 128 OPS+ with 38 home runs in a 3.9 WAR season in 2019, there's room for more.

         

    Honorable Mentions

    RF Aaron Judge (27), SP Luis Severino (26)

Oakland Athletics: 3B Matt Chapman

20 of 30

    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Age: 26

    Contract: Pre-arbitration, under control through 2023

    Still one of the most underappreciated players in baseball, Matt Chapman has piled up 14.8 WAR over the past two seasons while helping lead the Oakland Athletics to back-to-back postseason appearances.

    On the strength of his defense alone he would be an impact player. He won his second straight Gold Glove last season, and he's already tallied 66 DRS in his brief time in the big leagues.

    He's also no slouch at the plate, as evidenced by his 126 OPS+ and career-high 36 home runs in 2019. And he continued to grow as a hitter with modest improvements to his walk rate (9.4 to 10.9 BB%) and strikeout rate (23.7 to 21.9%).

         

    Honorable Mentions

    CF Ramon Laureano (25), C Sean Murphy (25), 1B Matt Olson (25)

Philadelphia Phillies: SP Aaron Nola

21 of 30

    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    Age: 26

    Contract: Signed through 2023

    After a 10.5 WAR season in 2018, Aaron Nola signed a four-year, $45 million extension with the Philadelphia Phillies that includes a $16 million club option for 2023.

    He didn't come close to matching his 2018 numbers, but he was still far and away the best pitcher on a shaky staff, posting a 3.87 ERA and 1.27 WHIP with 229 strikeouts in 202.1 innings.

    If he can land somewhere in the middle of those two seasons, he'll be well worth that extension and an integral part of the Phillies' efforts to contend in a stacked NL East.

         

    Honorable Mentions

    RF Bryce Harper (27), 1B Rhys Hoskins (27), CF/3B Scott Kingery (25)

Pittsburgh Pirates: 1B Josh Bell

22 of 30

    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Age: 27

    Contract: Arbitration-eligible, under control through 2022

    While little went right for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2019, Josh Bell was one of the few bright spots with a breakout season at the plate.

    The 6'4", 240-pound first baseman finally turned his tantalizing raw power into in-game production, launching 37 home runs after hitting just 38 in 1,203 plate appearances during his first two seasons as an everyday player.

    He's a poor defender and a below-average baserunner, so the entirety of his value is tied to his offensive production. That said, another 143 OPS+ season would more than make up for those shortcomings—and could make him a hot commodity on the trade market.

         

    Honorable Mentions

    SP Joe Musgrove (27), SS Kevin Newman (26), LF Bryan Reynolds (25)

San Diego Padres: SS Fernando Tatis Jr.

23 of 30

    Rob Leiter/Getty Images

    Age: 21

    Contract: Pre-arbitration, under control through 2024

    Fernando Tatis Jr. played just 84 games during an injury-marred rookie season, but that was more than enough time for him to establish himself as one of the most exciting young players in baseball.

    Just 20 years and 85 days old when he made his MLB debut on Opening Day, Tatis hit .317/.379/.590 for a 152 OPS+ with 22 home runs and 16 steals to rack up 4.2 WAR.

    Aside from his obvious offensive tools, he also showed the instincts and athleticism necessary to be a standout defender at shortstop. He's going to be a special player for a long time, and a healthy season would go a long way in helping the San Diego Padres push back toward contention.

         

    Honorable Mentions

    SP Dinelson Lamet (27), SP Joey Lucchesi (26), SP Chris Paddack (24)

San Francisco Giants: 2B/SS Mauricio Dubon

24 of 30

    Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

    Age: 25

    Contract: Pre-arbitration, under control through 2025

    The San Francisco Giants turned a free-agent flier on Drew Pomeranz into their potential second baseman of the future when they acquired Mauricio Dubon from the Milwaukee Brewers in a deadline trade.

    Playing regularly for the MLB squad down the stretch, Dubon hit .279/.312/.442 for a 99 OPS+ with five doubles, four home runs and three steals in 109 plate appearances.

    With the ability to play on both sides of second base and enough offensive game to hit .302/.345/.477 with 26 doubles and 20 home runs in 123 games at Triple-A last year, he looks like a solid pickup in the early stages of a full-scale rebuild.

         

    Honorable Mentions

    SP/RP Shaun Anderson (25), SP Tyler Beede (26), SP Logan Webb (23)

Seattle Mariners: LF Kyle Lewis

25 of 30

    G Fiume/Getty Images

    Age: 24

    Contract: Pre-arbitration, under control through 2025

    The Seattle Mariners have one of the most improved farm systems in baseball, and guys such as Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodriguez, Evan White and Logan Gilbert all have a chance to be stars. However, the MLB roster is thin on young, controllable talent.

    Kyle Lewis made his MLB debut last September and posted a 132 OPS+ with six home runs and 13 RBI in 75 plate appearances, which should be enough to secure him a starting spot in the 2020 outfield.

    Injuries have kept the No. 11 overall pick of the 2016 draft from moving as quickly through the minors as some expected, but now that he's arrived, he has a chance to be a middle-of-the-order producer for years.

              

    Honorable Mentions

    None

St. Louis Cardinals: SP Jack Flaherty

26 of 30

    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Age: 24

    Contract: Pre-arbitration, under control through 2023

    Jack Flaherty finished the 2019 season among the NL leaders in ERA (2.75, fourth), WHIP (0.97, first), strikeouts (231, sixth) and innings (196.1, eighth), which netted him a fourth-place finish in NL Cy Young Award voting.

    Those numbers don't tell the whole story, though.

    After scuffling to a 4.90 ERA in his first 17 starts, Flaherty was arguably the best pitcher in baseball during the second half of the season. He posted a microscopic 0.93 ERA with a .139 opponents' batting average and 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings in 106.1 frames over his final 16 starts, and he'll begin the 2020 season as the unquestioned ace of the St. Louis Cardinals.

         

    Honorable Mentions

    SS Paul DeJong (26), 3B/2B Tommy Edman (24)

Tampa Bay Rays: RF/LF Austin Meadows

27 of 30

    Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images

    Age: 24

    Contract: Pre-arbitration, under control through 2024

    The deal that sent Chris Archer to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow and Shane Baz could go down as the best trade in Tampa Bay Rays history.

    In his first full season in the majors in 2019, Meadows was an All-Star and a key contributor for a playoff team.

    He hit .291/.364/.558 for a 143 OPS+ and led a team that won 96 games in home runs (33), RBI (89), runs (83) and total bases (296). A top prospect throughout his time in the Pirates organization, Meadows figures to be a key run producer for the Rays for years to come.

         

    Honorable Mentions

    SS Willy Adames (24), SP Yonny Chirinos (26), SP Tyler Glasnow (26), 2B Brandon Lowe (25), SP Blake Snell (27)

Texas Rangers: OF Joey Gallo

28 of 30

    Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    Age: 26

    Contract: Arbitration-eligible, under control through 2022

    After back-to-back 40-homer seasons, Joey Gallo was limited to just 70 games in 2019 because of a strained left oblique and a broken hamate bone in his right wrist.

    Despite his aggressive swing-and-miss tendencies, he remains an impact player, and he was on his way to a breakout season before the injuries derailed things.

    He finished the year with a .253/.389/.598 line in 297 plate appearances, slugging 22 home runs and posting a 145 OPS+ with a 38.4 percent strikeout rate. He remains a tough player to peg in terms of overall value, but his 8.0 WAR over the past three seasons hasn't come by accident.

         

    Honorable Mentions

    LF Willie Calhoun (25), RP Jose Leclerc (26), 2B Nick Solak (25)

Toronto Blue Jays: 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

29 of 30

    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Age: 21

    Contract: Pre-arbitration, under control through 2025

    While Bo Bichette (144 OPS+), Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (127 OPS+) and Cavan Biggio (113 OPS+) all had more productive seasons in 2019, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. remains a potential once-in-a-generation player for the Toronto Blue Jays.

    He finished his rookie season with a modest .272/.339/.433 line, good for a 106 OPS+, and he tallied 26 doubles and 15 home runs in 514 plate appearances.

    He hit .293/.349/.452 after the All-Star break as he started to show signs of settling in, and big things could be forthcoming in his second full season in the big leagues.

         

    Honorable Mentions

    SS Bo Bichette (22), 2B Cavan Biggio (24), LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (26)

Washington Nationals: LF Juan Soto

30 of 30

    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    Age: 21

    Contract: Pre-arbitration, under control through 2024

    Juan Soto might be the most talented offensive player on this list.

    He played the 2019 regular season at the age of 20 and finished with a .282/.401/.548 line for a 138 OPS+ with 32 doubles, 34 home runs and 110 RBI. His 108 walks speak to his elite plate discipline, which will serve him well as opposing hurlers begin to pitch around him more.

    Not many teams could handle losing Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon in back-to-back offseasons, but Soto's emergence has helped cushion the blow for the Washington Nationals.

         

    Honorable Mentions

    CF Victor Robles (22), SS Trea Turner (26)

         

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.


X