In the past decade, baseball has trended younger. Every Major League roster is heavily populated with young star players, many of whom eventually make their way to All-Star teams.
Rosters in 2020 should be no different, even in an abbreviated season. Every team has at least one player considered a future All-Star, and odds are he'll find his way to the Midsummer Classic sooner than later. Let's take a look at who those budding superstars are in the American League Central:
Indians: Franmil Reyes
Oscar Mercado could certainly fall in this category for the Tribe, but it’s hard to ignore the potential Reyes’ raw power presents. In his second Major League season last year, the 24-year-old slugger hit 37 homers between the Padres and Indians, but he struggled to settle in at the plate with Cleveland after arriving in a Trade Deadline deal. However, he turned up at Spring Training last month more than ready to showcase his swing, which seems perfectly suited for the Home Run Derby.
His jovial personality won over the hearts of Padres fans and has quickly done the same with the Tribe’s fanbase over the last eight months. Reyes posted a 131 OPS+ in ’18 and a 112 OPS+ in ‘19. His power alone will be enough to catch a lot of attention, but if he can also carry the type of offensive consistency he demonstrated in Arizona into the regular season, it will be a recipe for his first All-Star selection. -- Mandy Bell
Royals: Adalberto Mondesi
It has never been a question whether Mondesi, 24, will be an All-Star one day, but simply when. For years, scouts have been projecting the Royals shortstop to be MLB’s next star, a five-tool player just needing to stay healthy and gain experience to reach that stardom.
Royals fans have seen glimpses of that great potential the last two seasons. In just 75 games in 2018, Mondesi hit 14 home runs, posted an .804 OPS and stole 32 bases, fourth-most in the AL. Mondesi’s 2019 season was cut short with a left shoulder injury that required surgery. Yet Mondesi, in just 102 games, tied for the MLB lead with 10 triples and he was second in the AL with 43 stolen bases.
“He has the entire skill set,” one rival AL scout said. “You’re going to see him become an elite defender with great range and an above-average arm, an elite basestealer and baserunner, and a hitter with pop from both sides of the plate. He is going to be special.” -- Jeffrey Flanagan
Tigers: Willi Castro
Matthew Boyd seems like the Tigers’ most likely All-Star candidate this season, and outfield prospect Riley Greene is a future All-Star by most accounts. But for purposes of this discussion, we’re trying to stick with hitters who have reached the Major Leagues. That brings us to Castro, a switch-hitting shortstop who had been on an offensive tear since joining the Tigers' system in the summer of 2018 until debuting in Detroit last August. The Tigers believe he’ll hit; his biggest question has been defense, an issue he addressed in Spring Training.
It’s a crowded field at shortstop in the AL and could get more so with top prospects on the way, but Castro has the multi-faceted skill set to sneak into the field. -- Jason Beck
Twins: Mitch Garver
Garver's path to the AL All-Star team likely got a bit tougher when Yasmani Grandal joined the White Sox on a four-year, $73 million deal, but there's little question that he'll deserve a spot in the Midsummer Classic if he comes even close to replicating his offensive performance from a breakout 2019. Frankly, Garver probably earned that spot last season, when he hit .295/.375/.609 with 13 homers in the first half, but he was hurt by his lack of established name value and by not being on the ballot because Jason Castro was the Twins' Opening Day catcher.
That should no longer be a problem. Garver is the reigning AL Sliver Slugger Award winner at his position, joining Joe Mauer as the only backstops in club history to receive that honor. No other primary catcher in baseball came anywhere close to Garver's .630 slugging percentage or 155 wRC+ in 2019, and only Gary Sánchez surpassed the Twins catcher's 31 homers (with 34, in 13 more games played). -- Do-Hyoung Park
White Sox: Yoán Moncada
Moncada should have been a 2019 All-Star according to much of the White Sox fan base, but the switch-hitting third baseman will have plenty of years to earn such an honor. Even in 2018, when he struck out 217 times, Moncada maintained a veteran-like composure knowing it would take time for him to reach an elite level. All the while, he still knocked out 17 home runs and 32 doubles. That elite time came in ’19, when Moncada was worth 5.7 WAR per FanGraphs.
He moved defensively from second to a more instinctive, athletic fit at third and featured a slash line of .315/.367/.548 to go with 25 home runs, 34 doubles, 83 runs scored, 79 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. His goal for 2020 is to steal more bases, and Moncada has the skill set to hit productively anywhere from leadoff to the middle of the order. -- Scott Merkin