02/07/12 11:00 AM EST
AL East prospect talk starts with No. 1 Moore
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
Here is the American League East, with a new division coming each day through Saturday. Let's go one step further. Within the Top 20s in each division, who are the best prospects? MLB.com spoke to general managers from outside each division to get their thoughts on who the top future stars are within that division. Today, it's time to discuss the AL East all-prospect team.
Matt Moore (No. 1 on Top 100; Rays' No. 1)
Dylan Bundy (No. 10 on Top 100; Orioles' No. 2)
Manny Banuelos (No. 13 on Top 100; Yankees' No. 1)
Chris Archer (No. 74 on Top 100; Rays' No. 3)
Noah Syndergaard (No. 95 on Top 100; Blue Jays' No. 4)
Anytime you can start a rotation with the No. 1 prospect in baseball, it's a good thing. And even if you don't think Moore is No. 1 overall, there would be few who would argue about him being the No. 1 pitching prospect.
"I love Matt Moore," one GM said, speaking for any talent evaluator in baseball. "He's really good."
The rest of the rotation was not as easy to form, though the pure stuff and upside of Banuelos, Bundy and even Archer made those choices relatively easy. Settling on a No. 5, though, was more difficult for the GM. Every option was so far away, so inexperienced, it was difficult, but Syndergaard got the nod, just ahead of new Yankee Jose Campos (Yankees' No. 5) and the Rays' Taylor Guerrieri (No. 99 overall; Rays' No. 6).
Dellin Betances (No. 41 on Top 100; Yankees' No. 2)
No, the Yankees haven't made Betances a full-time reliever. But many in baseball, including the GM interviewed for this story, thinks his power stuff (not to mention his command problems) point to a bullpen role in the future.
1B: Ryan Lavarnway (No. 93 on Top 100; Red Sox's No. 4)
Lavarnway is still a catcher and has the chance to be a good one. But a dearth of first basemen in this division along with the idea that the Red Sox could move Lavarnway to first to get his bat in the lineup made this position switch make sense.
2B: Jonathan Schoop (Orioles' No. 3)
Although Schoop has played shortstop and third, along with second base, he's listed at No. 2 on the Top 10 second basemen list. It's not that he couldn't play shortstop, but Orioles fans should get excited about having a double-play combination of Schoop at second and the guy next on this list at shortstop.
SS: Manny Machado (No. 6 on Top 100; Orioles' No. 1)
This may have been the toughest call for the GM to make because there is more than one top-flight shortstop from which to choose. It came down to the Orioles' 2010 first-round pick and the Rays' Hak-Ju Lee (No. 46 in the Top 100; Rays' No. 2). In the end, it was Machado's offensive upside that may have won the day.
"That's a good one," the GM said. "I'd probably say Machado, but we like them both."
3B: Will Middlebrooks (No. 56 on Top 100; Red Sox's No. 1)
It's not a great list of hot corner prospects in the AL East. Middlebrooks is the only one in the division to land on the Top 10 third basemen list. He didn't get a ringing endorsement from the GM, though he agreed he was the best option.
"We like him, but we're not in love with him," the GM said.
C: Travis d'Arnaud (No. 25 on Top 100; Blue Jays' No. 1)
There were a few choices here, with three AL East backstops on the Top 10 catchers list. Moving Lavarnway to first created some space, but the GM would have taken d'Arnaud over him as well as Gary Sanchez, the top Yankees prospect on that catching list.
"He's playing at the same level and there's three years age difference," the GM said of taking d'Arnaud over Lavarnway. "I'd take d'Arnaud over Gary Sanchez right now, too."
Gose and Marisnick landed on the Top 10 outfielder list at Nos. 9 and 10. Williams is a bit further away. The GM had some concerns about Gose's ability to hit -- he strikes out a good amount -- at the highest level but overall liked the raw tools and upside of this group.
Good, but maybe not great, outside of Moore at the top of the rotation.
"It's pretty good," the GM said. "It's real solid. The outfield is fine. You've got some pretty good pitching. You never know about pitching, but it's pretty good."