As we wait for pitchers and catchers to report, I thought I would delve into a creative writing exercise to pass the time. I’m sure fans of Truman Capote or even Stephen King will exclaim…”This is creative writing????” Yeah, well…this is the best I can do…here’s the exercise.
I decided to put the lineups together for the 2018 All-star game from players who have rookie eligibility (i.e. players in the minor leagues). Some players will be household names and others will not. Some will be on their current teams and some will be on new teams. You might also question…how did he come up with those estimates? Well, I made them up…but I did so hopefully in a logical and meaningful way.
In the end, I’m trying to answer the question: “What kind of player could X be in 5-years?”. To do that, I decided to take a fun (hopefully) approach to answering that basic question.
I hope you enjoy and feel free to provide me your feedback.
C: Jorge Alfaro – Texas Rangers
In his second full season in the league, Jorge Alfaro starts his first all-star game for the American League. While he serves as the clean-up hitter for the Rangers during the season, he’ll start the All-star game as the number six hitter on the power-laden AL team. After finishing second in rookie of the year honors last year, Alfaro’s power has developed more quickly than experts anticipated. After finishing the 2017 season with 22 home runs, and a .273 batting average, he’s already hit 14 bombs at the break with 10 stolen bases.
1B: Gary Sanchez – Cleveland Indians
After acquiring the Yankees top prospect in 2014 for now Chicago Cubs Justin Masterson, Gary Sanchez has flourished in his move to first base. Appearing in his first all-star game, Sanchez is on pace to hit 35 home runs as he builds on his 2017 breakout season where he posted a .270/.340/.515 with 27 home runs.
2B: Rougned Odor – Texas Rangers
The 2014 off-season trade that brought Matt Kemp to Texas for Elvis Andrus didn’t quite work out for the Rangers as Kemp could never stay healthy. However, it did allow Rougned Odor to take over at the keystone as Jurickson Profar slid over to short. Once he got his chance, the 24-year-old Venezuelan produced and produced big. Last year, he hit .305 with 18 home runs and 25 stolen bases and has even been better this year. He’ll bat in his traditional number two hole for the AL squad.
SS: Addison Russell – Oakland A’s
After earning rookie of the year honors after the 2015 season, Addison Russell is making his third appearance in the mid-summer classic but the first as the American League’s starting shortstop. Most industry experts believe Russell will eventually have to move to third base as he continues to fill out, but no matter where he plays, the production will be there. Looking to move his streak of 20/20 to 25/25 this year, Russell has become a true Superstar.
3B: Carlos Correa – Houston Astros
After winning the AL Conference Series MVP last year as the starting shortstop for the Houston Astros, Carlos Correa showed why he is a great team player – he moved to third base to start the 2018 campaign. While the Astros loved the 25 home runs and 100 RBI’s he averaged the past two years at short, they will still take that production at the hot corner if it means winning the World Series. According to CC, “Hey, Anderlton has won three gold gloves in a row. I’ll move for him any day of the week”. It all seems to be working as the Astros have the best record in major league baseball at the break.
RF: Miguel Sano – Minnesota Twins
Over the past three years, Miguel Sano has hit 114 home runs to lead the American League. As he enters the break, he has already hit 27 bombs and his second season of 40 seems like a lock. The only thing possibly stopping “Little Miggy” from a huge pay day in two years is his body. At 6-foot-4 and 275 pounds, nagging injuries could start to take their toll. But until then, the Twins will take his .615 slugging percentage despite his .245 batting average.
CF: Byron Buxton – Minnesota Twins
It took a while, but Byron Buxton is finally an all-star. The talent was clearly evident from the time he was drafted in 2012 but advanced pitching seemed to confound the Georgia native until breaking out last year. As he fills out, the Twins can’t expect him to continue to steal 50 bases per year, but they will gladly take the 25 home runs that he is on pace to hit this year. If Buxton stays on this pace, he could notch his first MVP trophy. Who could deny a player putting up 25 home runs, 50 stolen bases and a .290 average while scoring 130 runs for the Central Division champion – The Minnesota Twins.
LF: Clint Frazier – Cleveland Indians
While the Cleveland Indians colors are white, red, and navy blue, the left field seats are now orange as thousands of fans don a carrot top colored headdress to celebrate the Indians new favorite son – Clint Frazier. After blowing through the minors, Frazier made his major league debut in 2016 and immediately contributed for the Indians. With bat speed that reminds many of Gary Sheffield, his 2017 stat line of 28 home runs and 15 stolen bases with a .280 batting average is starting to look very Sheffieldian.
SP: Taijuan Walker – Seattle Mariners
Much greatness was expected from Taijuan Walker when he burst onto the major league scene with three stellar outings in September of 2013. However, the next two years were anything but stellar. Walker struggled with his command and got hit hard in the process. The light bulb went on in the second half of the 2015 season when he made tweaks to his mechanics that allowed him to get better extension of his pitches as well as an improved curve ball. The results were a Top 5 finish in the CY Young last year and the honor of starting the 2018 All-Star game.
SP: Dylan Bundy – Baltimore Orioles
When selected as the fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft, the Orioles thought they had struck gold – and they did. After winning the AL CY Young last year, Bundy has continued his domination of the American League by leading the league in strikeouts for two-years running and once again putting himself into CY Young contention. If only the Orioles had money! Rumors abound that the once again rebuilding Orioles will trade Bundy in the off-season much like they did four years ago with Seattle Mariner’s first basemen, Chris Davis and Philadelphia Phillies catcher, Matt Weiters.
SP: Tyler Glasnow – Tampa Bay Rays
The centerpiece to the 2015 off-season trade of David Price to Pittsburgh was 6-foot-7, Tyler Glasnow. While GM Andrew Friedman preached patience, fans immediately started questioning the trade as it took two years before Glasnow made his way to Tampa. Now in his second year in the majors, Glasnow is starting to fulfill his immense talent – currently tied for the strikeout crown with Dylan Bundy. Not only does he throw hard but his length, extension and occasional wildness have earned him the moniker of Tyler “RJ” Glasnow.
SP: Kohl Stewart – Minnesota Twins
When the Twins took Kohl Stewart with the fourth overall pick in the 2013 draft, they anticipated a long development process. However, Stewart’s premium athleticism enabled him to close the gap quickly; and now he has become a bona fide ace. Making his second all-star appearance in his three years in the Majors, Stewart is on pace to break his stat line of 190 IP, 180 strikeouts, and 3.05 ERA he posted last year.
SP: Henry Owens – Boston Red Sox
While still not a finished product, few in baseball have a livelier arm than lefty Henry Owens. The strikeouts have always been there as his 9.5 K/9 last year proved, but the control still comes and go. This year, he is starting to put it together with a 10-2 record, 122 strikeouts in 102.2 innings with a 2.89 ERA.
MR: Lance McCullers – Houston Astros
In high school, Lance McCullers had some of the best stuff in the country. While the plus fastball and slider have always been unhittable, the command has proven elusive. To take advantage of the arsenal and provide immediate help to the major league club, the Astros moved him to the pen in 2016 where he has become a force. Last year, in 95.2 innings, he struck out 110 batters and posted a 2.25 ERA while accumulating 43 holds. He makes his first all-star appearance this year and will likely setup the best closer in the league.
CL: Michael Foltynewicz – Houston Astros
While the star studded Houston Astros have become a force in the American League, no star shines brighter than three time all-star Mike Foltynewicz; aka Folty. Assuming he stays healthy, Folty should post his third straight 50 save season, eclipsing recently retired Jim Johnson’s streak of two in 2012 and 2013.