Thursday, May 19, 2011

Future Top 5 MLB Rankings

Each front office must manage a farm system, while also attempting to put a solid baseball team on the field every night.  That along with satisfying fans and making money makes the front office the mastermind behind winning.  No team, not even the Yankees and Red Sox, could win with 25 free agents.  Every team must grow their own players in order to succeed.  The Yankees are known for their huge free agent signings, but players like Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Bernie Williams, and Mariano Rivera were mainstays in the Yankees 1990’s dynasty.  All of these players were drafted and brought up through the Yankees minor league system.  In order for this to happen, the front office must draft extremely well, but also supplement these players with a veteran presence.  The Yankees dynasty included a bunch of older players that were able to still contribute and provide guidance to the rising stars of the league.  This all started with a great front office, and below I have comprised a list of my own top five future rankings.  This is basically a testament to how well the front office has put each team into position for the next ten years.  These five teams won’t necessarily be competing for a title this year, but they will be successful around 2015-2020. 
1.       Tampa Bay Rays
Let’s start with the Tampa Bay Rays.  According to the MLB’s top 50 prospect list, the Rays own 4 elite prospects.  Their best one is Jeremy Hellickson, who is already contributing on the Major League level.  He is 5-2 with a 3.18 ERA in his first 8 starts this season.  He is already a cog in the rotation, joining James Shields, David Price, and Wade Davis.  These four starters are a combined 18-10 with an incredible 3.10 ERA.  The best part about the four of them though is that they are all under 30 years old.  Price, Davis, and Hellickson are all 25 and younger.  They will be part of this rotation for a long time.  They have another starting pitcher, Chris Archer, in the minors who is believed to be ready to fill the 5th spot in the rotation in the next couple of years.  This coupled with the youth and timely hitting of Ben Zobrist, B.J. Upton, Sam Fuld, Matt Joyce, and Evan Longoria, this team will be competing for championships for the next ten years. 
Prospect to watch: Desmond Jennings OF – similar to Carl Crawford
2.       Kansas City Royals
The Royals have an amazing farm system right now.  They had 6 players in the MLB’s top 50, but that doesn’t even give them justice.  In the next three years, the Royals will bring up a ton of players to the big leagues and they will all be under 25 and ready to contribute.  Eric Hosmer played so well in the minor leagues that the front office HAD to bring him up.  He was batting over .350 and displaying crazy power.  He already has 3 homeruns in the majors in just 42 at bats.  On the current roster, the Royals clearly lack starting pitching, but help is on the way in the form of Mike Montgomery, John Lamb, Jake Odorizzi, Everett Teaford, Noel Arguelles, Tim Collins, Danny Duffy, Chris Dwyer, Blaine Hardy and Will Smith.  All of these pitchers are projected to be ready for the majors within the next 3-4 years.  This team’s minor league talent has Kansas City buzzing already.
3.       Cleveland Indians
The 26-14 Indians are easily baseball’s biggest surprise so far this season.  After trading away TWO Cy Young winners in the past four years, Cleveland has something to cheer about.  Travis Hafner is finally hitting again, though with his aging body, he is far from a guarantee.  The play of Michael Brantley, Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana has been outstanding and those three will outline the future of this ballclub.  Shin-Soo Choo, who has struggled this year, still has a ton of talent and is fairly young.  The oft-injured Grady Sizemore is the most talented player on the roster, if he ever finds a way on to the field.  With all of these names in the lineup every day, this team will continue to score runs now and in the future.  In the minors, Lonnie Chisenhall has shown a lot of pop in his bat and could be the next Indians third baseman.  The reason the Indians made this list has mostly to do with their major league roster and with a young ace in Justin Masterson, the Indians are legitimate. 
4.       Atlanta Braves
The Braves seem to just never go away.  Every single season they put together a solid ballclub with a mixture of up and coming stars and wily veterans still itching to play every day.  The Braves seem to be the class of the MLB, showcased through their success and consistency.  On the field right now, Jason Heyward has lived up to his hype and fellow prospects Freddie Freeman and Julio Teheran are playing in the MLB also.  Mike Minor also made his MLB debut recently, though he struggled with his command.  The Braves are on this list because of their overall young talent in the MLB.  Tommy Hanson is primed to be an ace, already with a 2.35 ERA in 53 innings this season.  That along with the 5-0 Jair Jurrjens and a back of the bullpen in Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel, the Braves have one of the best pitching staffs in the league.  If they begin to hit better, they will be compete with the talent of Philadelphia’s 4 ace staff.
5.       Colorado Rockies
The Rockies had 3 players in the Top 50 Prospects list: Wilin Rosario, Christian Friedrich, and Tyler Matzek.  These three players are expected to contribute in the big leagues within the next 2 seasons.  The Rockies also have some of the best young stars in the game today in Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, and Ubaldo Jimenez.  Jimenez has dropped back from reality after a wonderful year last season, but he has incredible power and movement in his pitches.  Tulo and CarGo are carrying this team along with Todd Helton, and have a chance at doing something special this season.  Pitching seems to be this team’s weakness, but with Matzek and Friedrich on the brink of the MLB, this team will be damn good.

Honorable Mentions: Washington Nationals, Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays

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