02/09/12 11:00 AM EST
Lindor, Starling bring star potential to AL Central
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
Next up is the American League Central, 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 Central all-prospect team.
Jacob Turner (No. 15 on Top 100; Tigers' No. 1)
Mike Montgomery (No. 31 on Top 100; Royals' No. 3)
Jake Odorizzi (No. 47 on Top 100; Royals' No. 4)
Drew Smyly (No. 82 on Top 100; Tigers' No. 3)
Nestor Molina (White Sox No. 2)
It's a solid list of starters, with the top four in the Top 100 rankings. There was a drop-off for the No. 5 guy in the rotation getting a slight nod over arms like the Tigers' Andy Oliver or Indians 2011 draftee Dillon Howard.
"There are some quality guys there," the GM interviewed for this story said. "You've got some guys who are upper-level guys, too. That's pretty good. "
Addison Reed (No. 100 on Top 100; White Sox No. 1)
There was no need to contemplate taking a starter and moving him to the bullpen here. Reed could be closing for the White Sox this season, and the GM agreed that it could be easily argued that he's the best relief prospect in the game right now.
1B: Chris Parmelee (Twins' No. 7)
This was not a good pool from which to draw, with the only other first basemen in team Top 20s being the White Sox Andy Wilkins and the Tigers' Aaron Westlake. Parmelee, by virtue of his successful big league debut last September, got the nod.
2B: Christian Colon (Royals' No. 9)
Once again, this proves to be one of the more difficult positions to fill, unless a shortstop is moved over. Even though the GM was not a huge fan of Colon, he did admit that he will play in the big leagues at second base.
SS: Francisco Lindor (No. 32 on Top 100; Indians' No. 1)
The easiest no-brainer in the division. There is consensus in baseball, and particularly with this general manager, that Lindor has the chance to be a special impact player at a premium position once he gets to the big leagues.
3B: Miguel Sano (No. 23 on Top 100; Twins' No. 1)
Most divisions didn't have depth at the hot corner to consider, but in the AL Central, there was more than one legitimate candidate. Both Sano and the Tigers' Nick Castellanos are Top 100 (Castellanos at No. 51) players and are at, or near the top, of their organizational rankings. One might be a slightly safer bet, but the GM went with who he felt had the higher ceiling.
"I think I would take Sano," the GM said. "I think Castellanos has a greater probability of being in the big leagues, but I'll take the upside."
C: Rob Brantly (Tigers' No. 16)
There is no catching depth in this division, with the general manager wishing the Royals' Salvador Perez still qualified. But because he doesn't, Brantly seemed the best option from a weak group. The White Sox have some catching in their Top 20, as do the Indians, but they didn't quite measure up.
Bubba Starling (No. 17 on Top 100; Royals' No. 1)
Wil Myers (No. 19 on Top 100; Royals' No. 2)
Aaron Hicks (No. 72 on Top 100; Twins' No. 2)
There was no hesitation in taking the two Royals' prospects, who rank among the top outfield prospects in all of baseball, not just the AL Central. The third spot was not a slam dunk, with the GM voicing concerns about Hicks' ability to hit at the higher levels. Still, given the lack of a clear-cut choice, he agreed his tools made him the selection for the final slot.
"I think the first two guys are clear," the GM said. "I'm not a huge Hicks fan, but I'd probably go with that."
There's some good pitching, maybe not in the elite category, but many guys close to being big league ready. And the hitters, outside of two, don't present that formidable of a lineup.
"Positionally, Lindor and Starling are the only guys there that I think have a high likelihood of being impact players," the GM said.
Beyond that, the construction of this all-prospect team provided signs of what the future holds for the AL Central. It's one the GM felt doesn't look so bright for several teams right now.
"The Indians, Twins and White Sox are not in great shape," the GM said. "Detroit's got a great big league club with some young guys. You're going to have to be better long term than Kansas City or better short term than Detroit. I'm not sure those teams can do either. That would be the challenge."