The American League prospect 'Dream Team'
Rangers, Twins, Astros and Royals have multiple representatives on squad
When I began to think of the American League prospect "Dream Team," I immediately considered the wealth of talent at shortstop. Any one of four players could have made my starting lineup.
When I get to that position, I am going to name those who are in the conversation to be the finest prospect shortstop in the AL. A case can be made for any of the four.
Like the National League, the AL positions are either feast or famine. Some are stronger in depth than others.
One thing is clear in reviewing all prospects: The top pitching and shortstop farmhands in the Pipeline point the way toward an exciting future for baseball.
Catcher: Jorge Alfaro, Rangers, 20
Alfaro is one of the most athletic and talented catchers I have seen since Salvador Perez of the Royals. Alfaro reminds me of Perez, having the ability to hit and play great defense with a cannon for an arm.
First Base: C.J. Cron, Angels, 24
I had the pleasure of watching Cron in the Arizona Fall League. He has improved tremendously at the plate. Cron's power will always play, but his plate discipline is what will help drive a solid batting average.
Note: Watch out for Jesus Aguilar, 23, of the Indians. He could burst on the scene with power at some point in 2014.
Second Base: Mookie Betts, Red Sox, 21
Betts is a pure athlete. He has the misfortunate of slotting behind Dustin Pedroia in the Red Sox organization. However, places are always found for guys that are grinders. That's Betts.
Shortstop: Carlos Correa, Astros, 19
I think Correa is going to have a phenomenal career. He may outgrow shortstop. Correa makes everything look so easy. A complete player, he has to be seen to be appreciated. Correa is a "wow" guy.
Any of these shortstops could have made my Dream Team:
Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox, 21
Addison Russell, Athletics, 20
Francisco Lindor, Indians, 20
Third Base: Miguel Sano, Twins, 20
The sky is the limit for this powerful guy, but I have concerns about his home park. Target Field is a tough place to hit. But Sano will dig his way through.
Outfield: Byron Buxton, Twins, 20
Buxton is a complete player with five tools that show in almost every game he plays. He's the type of guy a team can build around. Buxton will hit the Target Field gaps and play outstanding defense. He runs well, too.
Outfield: George Springer, Astros, 24
Springer has a big swing, and he may miss a lot of pitches. But when he connects, I've seen the damage. Springer can be lethal. Astros fans will love him.
Outfield: Michael Choice, Rangers, 24
Choice is underrated in my book. I've seen the power. Once he becomes more selective and learns how to hit big league pitching with a greater confidence and comfort level, he will turn some heads with that power -- especially in his home park with Texas.
Pitcher: Taijuan Walker, Mariners, 21
Walker should make the rotation this season. Safeco Field is a great place for him. Look for Walker's confidence to build as the season progresses, as he has a big, big arm.
Pitcher: Mark Appel, Astros, 22
Appel comes home to Houston to build his career. He has some work to do on command, but the repertoire is there. Appel just needs some refinement.
Pitcher: Aaron Sanchez, Blue Jays, 21
Sanchez has all the pitches but needs to repeat his delivery to get the most from his ability. If he gets out of sync, he has to recover quickly. I love Sanchez's mound demeanor and stuff.
Pitcher: Kyle Zimmer, Royals, 22
Zimmer could easily become the best of the lot with the movement on his pitches. If he throws strikes consistently, his ceiling is top-of-the-rotation, All-Star-quality starter.
Pitcher: Yordano Ventura, Royals, 22
Ventura has one of the power arms that just won't quit. If he can find the plate with consistency, he can win plenty of games. I'd like to see Ventura bring the 97 mph heater down a bit to get more movement.
And now, my Major League Baseball Prospect Dream Team (both leagues):
Catcher: Austin Hedges, Padres
First Base: Cron, Angels
Second Base: Kolten Wong, Cardinals
Shortstop: Correa, Astros
Third Base: Sano, Twins
Designated Hitter: Javier Baez, Cubs
Outfield: Oscar Taveras, Cardinals
Outfield: Buxton, Twins
Outfield: Springer, Astros
Pitcher: Archie Bradley, D-backs
Pitcher: Noah Syndergaard, Mets
Pitcher: Walker, Mariners
Pitcher: Jamison Taillon, Pirates
Pitcher: Appel, Astros