With it being minor league award season I thought it would be a fun exercise to come up with a minor league All Star team. Except that’s not enough since everyone else has minor league All Star lists and too many good players would be left off the list.
So I thought about some ideas to expand on it, until I came up with one that seemed the most interesting to both me and the readers. I decided to come up with rosters for a fictional minor league All Star game between the American League prospects and National League prospects.
This fictional All Star game would be picked just as though a big league one would be done. Every position will be selected along with a designated hitter, and each spot will get a backup. The pitching staffs will go ten deep per league, and a minimum of three relievers for each league.
That takes us to 18 hitters and 10 pitchers per league for 28 players. I’ll then save two additional spots for making sure every team gets at least one representative, labeled below as "XP", just like the big leagues do. If I don’t need those extra spots to make sure every team is involved, then the best remaining player gets the selection, but because the hitter to pitcher ratio is 18/10 pitchers will get priority unless there is a bat too good to leave off the list.
The requirements to make it are mostly based on 2017 performance. Other factors will have some weight, such as the level of play(Triple A production is more valuable than Low A) and a guy’s prospect status. Player usage is also a factor, as 250 AB isn’t as valuable as 500 AB- so it’s tough for shortseason guys to make this team, but not impossible.
To be eligible a player must have be rookie eligible at this time, so Rafael Devers isn’t eligible. I’m also going to remove guys who will be a sure thing to go past rookie status this year, like Ozzie Albies, Yoan Moncada, Amed Rosario, Dom Smith, and Rhys Hoskins. A guy who spent the year between two leagues, like Eloy Jimenez, will be counted with their entire year’s stats for the league they currently play in.
Position wise I’m keeping players at the spot they played most in 2017, unless they saw significant time at multiple positions. This means that while I see Bo Bichette as a second baseman longterm, he’s listed at shortstop as he saw the majority of his playing time there. The lone exception is the outfield, which I’m considering interchangeable.
So lets see what these imaginary rosters would look like.
Francisco Mejia has arguably the best hit tool for a catching prospect in years, which has led to him showing up in the big leagues already. But that wasn’t before he hit .297/.346/.490 with 21 doubles and 14 homers in Double A. Danny Jansen made the list with a breakout between High A, Double A, and Triple A. The 22 year old hit .323/.400/.484 with 25 doubles and 10 homers in 104 games.
1B: Starter-Bobby Bradley, Cleveland Indians, Backup-Matt Thaiss, Los Angeles Angels
Bobby Bradley was an easy choice here after he spent the year in Double A hitting .251/.331/.465 with 25 doubles and 23 homers. Matt Thaiss is a 2016 top pick who has already reached Double A and hit .274/.375/.395 with 27 doubles, four triples, nine homers, and even eight steals.
Willie Calhoun was the only Ranger after playing 29 of his 128 Triple A games with the Rangers after coming over from the Dodgers for Yu Darvish. Combined he hit .300/.355/.572 with 27 doubles, six triples, and 31 homers. Max Schrock was the lone Oakland A as both AJ Puk and Franklin Barreto were near misses. In Double A Schrock hit .321/.379/.422 with 19 doubles and seven homers. Yoan Moncada only missed because he is about to use up his prospect eligibility.
3B: Starter-Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays, Backup-Michael Chavis, Boston Red Sox
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. couldn’t have done much more. The 18 year old dominated Low A and then moved to the pitcher friendly Florida State League of High A while only improving his numbers. Combined he hit .323/.425/.485 with 28 doubles, 13 homers, and eight steals. Not only that but he walked more times(76) than he struck out(62). Former first round pick Michael Chavis has struggled with performance and injury until a breakout this year. Chavis hit .282/.347/.563 with 35 doubles and 31 homers while making it up to Double A.
SS: Starter-Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays, Backup-Willy Adames, Tampa Bay Rays
Bo Bichette was right with Vladdy Jr every step of the way in levels and production at the age of 19. He hit a combined .362/.423/.565 with 41 doubles, four triples, 14 homers, and 22 steals. Willy Adames got off to a slow start in Triple A but still ended up hitting .277/.360/.415 with 30 doubles, five triples, 10 homers, and 11 steals.
LF: Starter-Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros, Backup-Jesus Sanchez, Tampa Bay Rays
Kyle Tucker played well over half of his 120 games in Double A this year on his way to hitting .274/.346/.528. He made the 20/20 club with 25 homers and 21 steals in addition to 33 doubles and five triples. Jesus Sanchez had his breakout as a 19 year old in Low A as he hit .305/.348/.478 to go with 29 doubles, four triples, 15 homers, and seven steals.
Austin Hays hit .329/.365/.593 with 32 doubles, five triples, 32 homers and 95 RBI in his first full pro season on a trip that’s already taken him to the big leagues. Estevan Florial broke out as a 19 year old in Low A, but has been promoted to High A to play 19 of his 110 games. Combined he hit .298/.372/.479 with 23 doubles, seven triples, 13 homers, and 23 steals.
RF: Starter-Eloy Jimenez, Chicago White Sox, Backup-Jahmai Jones, Los Angeles Angels
Injuries limited Eloy Jimenez to 89 games between the Cubs and White Sox, but the 20 year old finished the season with a short stint in Double A after a .312/.379/.568 year with 22 doubles, three triples, and 19 homers. Jahmai Jones was in his age 20 season and reached as far as High A while hitting .282/.348/.446 with 29 doubles, seven triples, 14 homers, and 27 steals.
DH: Starter-Jeimer Candelario, Detroit Tigers, Backup-Miguel Andujar, New York Yankees
Jeimer Candelario was an extra base hit machine in 110 games at Triple A, mostly with the Cubs. Overall he hit .265/.343/.484 with 36 doubles, four triples, and 15 homers. Miguel Andujar got the last spot for hitters as he hit .315/.352/.498 with 36 doubles, two triples, 16 homers, and five steals between Double A and Triple A.
P: Michael Kopech, RHP, Chicago White Sox
Michael Kopech finally got to pitch a full season this year and in his 134.1 innings he had a 2.88 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 172 strikeouts. Most importantly he cut his walk rate down to just 65 as he reached Triple A.
P: Brent Honeywell, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
After two Double A starts Brent Honeywell spent the rest of his season in Triple A. Overall he threw 136.2 innings, going 13-9 with a 3.49 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and 172 strikeouts.
P: Chance Adams, RHP, New York Yankees
After six dominant starts in Double A, Chance Adams threw the bulk of his 150.1 innings in Triple A. Overall he went 15-5 with a 2.45 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 135 strikeouts.
P: Zack Littell, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Zack Littell was acquired from the Yankees for the rental of Jaime Garcia about a week after the Twins traded for Garcia. Splitting his time between High A and a pair of Double A stops he recorded a crazy 19-1 win/loss record with a 2.12 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 142 strikeouts in 157 innings.
P: Triston McKenzie, RHP, Cleveland Indians
Triston McKenzie is the third Indian on the list and pitched 143 innings in High A, going 12-6 with a 3.46 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 186 strikeouts.
P: Forrest Whitley, RHP, Houston Astros
Forrest Whitley is a 19 year old 2016 draftee who moved from Low A to High A to Double A in his first full pro season. Whitley threw 92.1 innings with a 2.83 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 143 strikeouts.
P: Alec Hansen, RHP, Chicago White Sox
In 141.1 innings Alec Hansen posted a 2.80 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and more strikeouts than Michael Kopech(he had 191). Not bad for a 2016 draftee in Double A.
RP: John Curtiss, RHP, Minnesota Twins
John Curtiss is the second and final Twin on the list after I couldn’t find room for Nick Gordon and couldn’t justify Brusdar Graterol. Curtiss had an amazing year in 39 appearances covering 49.1 innings as he recorded 19 saves with a 1.28 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, and 68 strikeouts before making it to the big leagues.
RP: Giovanny Gallegos, RHP, New York Yankees
Giovanny Gallegos becomes the fourth Yankee on the list after a dominant year where he went 43.1 innings over 28 Triple A appearances. He recorded five saves while posting a 2.08 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and 69 strikeouts. Though he hasn’t been as successful in 11 big league games.
RP: Richard Lovelady, LHP, Kansas City Royals
The Royals spot went to lefty reliever Richard Lovelady, a 2016 10th round pick who split his 66.2 innings evenly between High A and Double A. Combined Lovelady went 4-2, 10 saves, 1.62 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 77 strikeouts to 17 walks.
XP: Ryan Borucki, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays
Ryan Borucki was the last pitcher to make it and gives the Jays four prospects to tie the Yankees for the lead. He was mostly in High A before a handful of Double A starts and then one Triple A start. Overall he threw 150.1 innings while going 8-8 with a 2.93 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 157 strikeouts.
XP: Andrew Moore, RHP, Seattle Mariners
Andrew Moore is the lone Mariner on the list after he went 4-6 with a 3.04 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 99 strikeouts in 109.2 innings between Double A and Triple A. He’s made seven big league starts as well.
C: Starter-Victor Caratini, Chicago Cubs, Backup: Keibert Ruiz, Los Angeles Dodgers
The Cubs got Victor Caratini from the Braves back in 2014 for Emilio Bonifacio and James Russell, though the 2013 2nd round pick didn’t break out until this year. Caratini only played 83 games in the minors, all in Triple A, and hit .342/.393/.558 with 27 doubles, three triples, and 10 homers. Keibert Ruiz also broke out and the 19 year old has moved up to High A this year after a strong start in Low A. Combined this year he hit .316/.361/.452 with 23 doubles and eight homers. Carson Kelly was considered but played even less games than Caratini, while Tyler Stephenson and Alex Jackson didn’t do quite enough to make it.
Ryan McMahon saw his prospect stock drop last year with a disappointing season, but he was very successful in Double and Triple A eventually getting a look in the big leagues. His minor league numbers are just crazy- .355/.403/.583 with 39 doubles, four triples, 20 homers, and even 11 steals. Alonso made the list because his future Met teammate Dom Smith is going to use his prospect eligibility, as is Rhys Hoskins. The second rounder from 2016 spent the bulk of his 93 games in the High A Florida State League, but did make it to Double A late in the year. Overall he hit .289/.359/.524 with 27 doubles and 18 homers. Alonso is the lone Met, though Smith and Amed Rosario would have made it if eligible. Edwin Rios was also considered.
Scott Kingery had a power breakout that no one saw coming out of college this year between Double A and Triple A. The numbers are slightly inflated by an extreme hitter friendly park in Double A Reading, but his Triple A numbers remained strong as he split time at the two levels almost evenly. Overall he hit .304/.359/.530 with 29 doubles, eight triples, 26 homers, and 29 steals. Shed Long broke out last year and continued his breakout this year, splitting time between High A and Double A. Overall he played in 104 games and hit .281/.358/.477 with 22 doubles, three triples, 16 homers, and nine steals. Had he been eligible, this spot would have gone to Ozzie Albies.
3B: Starter-Nick Senzel, Cincinnati Reds, Backup-Brian Anderson, Miami Marlins
Nick Senzel is a fairly obvious choice after splitting time fairly equally between High A and Double A. I’m not fully buying the Double A power breakout as it appears to be a product of his home park, but his year is still very impressive. On the year he hit .321/.391/.514 with 40 doubles, three triples, 14 homers, and 14 steals. The lone Marlin to make the list is Brian Anderson, who was strong in Double A before a huge showing in Triple A and finally a big league call up. In the minors all he did was hit .275/.361/.492 with 21 doubles and 22 homers.
SS: Starter-Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres, Backup-Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies
Surprisingly Fernando Tatis Jr. was one of just two Padres to make the list as Michel Baez didn’t throw enough innings and Cal Quantrill struggled in Double A. Tatis played all but 14 games in Low A before a late promotion to Double A. He started slow but made adjustments and ended up having a huge season at age 18- the same age as Vladdy Jr. Overall Tatis hit .278/.379/.498 with 27 doubles and seven triples. Just like Ronald Acuña, Tatis joined the 20/20 club as he hit 22 homers and stole 32 bases. He even added an extremely impressive 77 walks. Brendan Rodgers made the list despite playing in just 89 games and the fact his Double A stats were fairly ordinary. His stats were definitely boosted by the California League, but he did hit .336/.373/.567 with 26 doubles, three triples, and 18 homers. Amed Rosario would have had a spot if he was eligible and Carter Kieboom didn’t have enough games.
While he only played in 76 games and they were in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League, Lewis Brinson was big this year. He hit .331/.400/.562 with 22 doubles, four triples, 13 homers, and 11 steals. Tyler O’Neill spent his whole season in the Pacific Coast League, though most of it was as a Mariner prior to being dealt to the Cardinals in exchange for Marco Gonzales around the trade deadline. O’Neill hit .246/.321/.499 with 26 doubles, three triples, 31 homers, and 14 steals.
CF: Starter-Ronald Acuña, Atlanta Braves, Backup-Taylor Trammell, Cincinnati Reds
It should be a surprise to no one that the guy cleaning up minor league awards is on the list. Ronald Acuña was just special this year from three different levels, and hit .325/.374/.522 with 31 doubles and eight triples. He also joined the 20/40 club with 21 homers and 44 steals in addition to leading all of minor league baseball in base hits. Taylor Trammell is the third Reds hitter to make the list after a huge first full year as a pro. In Low A he hit .281/.368/.450 with 24 doubles, 10 triples, 13 homers, and 41 steals. He also drew 71 walks, showing why he was a first round pick last year.
RF: Starter-Victor Robles, Washington Nationals, Backup-DJ Peters, Los Angeles Dodgers
After a strong season in High A, Victor Robles got an extended look in Double A before getting called up once rosters expanded in September. Robles hit .300/.382/.493 with 37 doubles, eight triples, 10 homers, and 27 steals. DJ Peters gets this spot because Alex Verdugo got the starting DH spot instead. The Dodgers fourth round pick last year was aided by the California League but still hit .276/.372/.514 with 29 doubles, five triples, and 27 homers.
DH: Starter-Alex Verdugo, Los Angeles Dodgers, Backup-Chris Shaw, San Francisco Giants
Alex Verdugo is the third Dodgers bat on the list after he hit .314/.389/.436 with 27 doubles, four triples, six homers, and nine steals. Verdugo had a strong year in Triple A and even walked more times(52) than he struck out(50) before a recent call up. Chris Shaw is the Giants representative after starting in Double A and then spending the bulk of the year in Triple A. Overall the slugger hit .292/.346/.525 with 35 doubles and 24 homers.
P: Jon Duplantier, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
This may have been one of the easiest picks as the 2016 3rd round pick out of Rice dominated in both Low A and High A(California League). He threw 136 innings combined, going 12-3 with a 1.39 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 165 strikeouts.
P: Mitch Keller, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Mitch Keller is the lone Pirate, and after 15 High A starts, six more after being promoted to Double A, and four rehab innings in the New York/Penn League, he proved himself as one of the top pitching prospects in the game. Keller went 116 innings, going 8-5 with a 3.03 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 116 strikeouts.
P: Jack Flaherty, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
Man that Harvard Westlake High School 2012 rotation was an all time great one. Lucas Giolito and Max Fried were both first round picks that year, while Jack Flaherty joined them in 2014, and all three have already reached the big leagues. How could any prep hitters handle that group? Flaherty may have had the best year of all of them this year after 10 dominant starts in Double A and then 15 strong starts in Triple A. Combined he pitched 148.2 innings, going 14-4 with a 2.18 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 147 strikeouts.
P: Mike Soroka, RHP, Atlanta Braves
Mike Soroka spent his age-19 season in Double A and all he did there was go 11-8 with a 2.75 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. Soroka threw 153.2 innings with 125 strikeouts to just 34 walks. He edged out fellow Braves arms Kolby Allard, Joey Wentz, and Bryse Wilson for this spot as only one could make the list due to such a deep list of National League arms to pick from.
P: Walker Buehler, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers fourth representative is Walker Buehler, who threw 88.2 innings in 19 starts and nine relief appearances between High A, Double A, and Triple A. He only saw that time in relief as the Dodgers were getting him ready to add him into their bullpen for the pennant race, and his future remains as a starter. Overall he went 3-3 with a 3.35 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 125 strikeouts to 31 walks.
P: Tyler Mahle, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
The fourth Red to make the list is Tyler Mahle, which gives them the most in the National League along with the Dodgers, and ties the Yankees and Blue Jays for the most overall. Mahle had a huge year with 14 dominating starts in Double A followed by 10 very good starts in Triple A before a big league call up. In the minors Mahle went 10-7 while throwing 144.1 innings with a 2.06 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 138 strikeouts to just 30 walks.
P: Corbin Burnes, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
A fourth round pick in 2016, Corbin Burnes has already reached Double A and was dominant in 145.2 innings between there and High A. Combined he went 8-3 with a 1.67 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 140 strikeouts. If there is any pitcher who could challenge Jon Duplantier for the minors best pitcher in 2017, it’s definitely this guy.
RP: Jimmie Sherfy, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Jimmie Sherfy had a big year as the closer in Triple A Reno, saving 20 games with a 3.12 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. Sherfy was dominant, as he recorded 61 strikeouts to just 10 walks over his 49 innings pitched and holding opponents to a .211 batting average against.
RP: Dillon Maples, RHP, Chicago Cubs
Dillon Maples becomes the second Cub to make the list after a big year between High A, Double A, and Triple A. Overall he threw 63.1 innings, saving 13 games and going 6-3 with a 2.27 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. Hitters didn’t have much of a chance as he struck out 100 batters and held opponents to a .192 batting average. If he was able to cut down on the walks a little- he walked 37- he would have been absolutely dominant.
RP: Colin Poche, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
The DBacks landed a second reliever on the list with 2016 14th round pick Colin Poche. The lefty was split evenly between Low A and High A, pitching 50.1 innings with a dominant 1.25 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 14.5 K/9, and tiny 5.4 BB/9.
XP: Luiz Gohara, LHP, Atlanta Braves
Luiz Gohara becomes the third Brave on the list, and like Acuña he accumulated his stats at three levels. Unlike Acuña his journey that started in High A didn’t end in Triple A, as Gohara made his big league debut after rosters expanded in September. In the minors he went 7-4 with a 2.62 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 147 strikeouts in 123.2 innings.
XP: Joey Lucchesi, LHP, San Diego Padres
The final spot goes to Joey Lucchesi, after the 24 year old fourth round pick from 2016 dominated High A getting even better in Double A, after escaping the California League. On the year he went 11-7 with a 2.20 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 148 strikeouts in 139 innings Lucchesi only allowed 102 hits over those 139 innings with just 33 walks, as he did a great job of keeping runners from getting on base. A slew of Braves arms, Sixto Sanchez, and Michel Baez were the guys strongly considered for this last spot.