Future MLB Stars, Part 1 The Starting Lineup

About two days after the All-Star Break I began to think “What players will take over the league and be guaranteed starters in the All-Star Game in five years?”  I began to do some research and with the help of bleacherreport.com I have compiled a group of players who stand out as the best of the youngest.  In this 3-part report, I will cover the starting lineup as well as the pitching rotation and the bench.   Here are the best 8 position players under 25 years of age.

First, here are the qualifications:

  1. The player cannot already be 25.
  2. He must have played a major league game.
  3. This includes all the players in the MLB
  4. This is based over their career, not solely 2013.

 C Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals

Perez is already one of the better catchers in the league and he is only 23 years old.  He beats out most catchers his age because he is good defensively and offensively.  Most catchers either are very stellar defensively or have a good bat, but I feel that if Perez continually puts up the type of numbers he has, than he will definitely continue to be a top-flight catcher.  Off the top of my head, I can only think of one player that has shown me this type of potential under the age of 25, and that is Buster Posey. If Salvador Perez can be half of what Posey is now, he will definitely be on his way towards a brilliant career.

Bottom Line: Already a good catcher, but definitely not in the same class as Posey or Yadier Molina.

1B Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves

This was a tough choice between Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs, Eric Hosmer of the Royals, or Freeman of the Braves, but I chose Freeman over all of them on the basis of statistics.  Overall, Freeman is the more all-around first baseman, while the others focus more on power or contact or fielding.   If you don’t believe me then look at the numbers for the three first basemen I considered:

Freeman .306 AVG 11 HRs 65 RBIs
Hosmer   .286 AVG 11 HRs 45 RBIs
Rizzo  .239 AVG 14 HRs 58 RBIs

While Rizzo has more power than both Freeman and Hosmer, he still does not have 100 hits this season, and still hasn’t proven to me that he is better than either Hosmer or Freeman.  The Braves also are a division leading team and Freeman is one of the players leading the way this season.  A player leading a winning team is (in my book) the ultimate way to get your way to the top of your class.

Bottom Line:  The crystal ball is cloudy for Freddie Freeman as he could end up being great, but he also could be a bust because he’s injured frequently.

2B Jose Altuve, Houston Astros

The new face of the Astros franchise is the absolute best U25 second baseman in the MLB.   At 23 years old he has a chance to be the equivalent, or even better then players such as Chase Utley or Robinson Cano.  He has exceeded mine and many others expectations, and is going to be the leader of an extremely young Astros team.  With a .284 batting average and 13 home runs in his career, which isn’t even a full two seasons (299 games), he has shown that he may be the next premier second baseman in the MLB.

Bottom Line:  As good as he’s been, I still want to see more out of him.  I think he can be great but he needs to put more work in.

3B Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

An obvious selection at third base is Manny Machado.  He continues to impress me in a position that he isn’t as familiar with.  Originally a shortstop, he has moved over to third base nicely and makes a lot of flashy plays at the hot corner.  He’s hitting .303 with 9 homers and 50 RBIs already this season.   Those numbers are something you’d expect from a 28-year old in the middle of his prime.  This guy is only 20-years old and he is still getting better.  He’s also carrying the Orioles towards the playoffs despite the fact they do not have a good pitching rotation.

Bottom Line: He is a rising star and he will be very exciting to watch in these next 10-15 years.

SS Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs

I’ve been a fan of this guy since his amazing 2011 season, but I realize that he is beginning to fade away. His numbers the past 3 years have gone from great, to good, to average, which is typical for many players as pitchers adjust to them.  Over the prior two seasons (2011 and 2012) he has average 192 hits and a .295 average, which is outstanding, but it seems here in 2013 he has left much to be desired.  Another player who would give Starlin Castro a fight for this starting position would be Jean Segura, who has had a better season, but has had struggles in a variety of different professional levels.

Bottom Line: At this rate, Starlin Castro may not be on a major league team in two years, but I think with his work ethic he will be able to turn it around and get back to that 2011 form.  If not, this position will definitely belong to Jean Segura next season.

LF Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins

Stanton is an absolute power machine, who hits home runs like its nothing.  Starlin Marte is having a better season but isn’t as consistent as Stanton has been.  Last season he hit .290 with 37 homers. This year he’s been fighting injuries and is still is a huge threat (and the only threat) in the Marlins lineup.  Marte has had only one stretch that he looked like a mega-star, but after that he has returned to the .270 hitter that the Pirate fans were accustomed to seeing in 2012.  Stanton on the other hand has shown stretches of greatness and possesses a bit more consistent results at the plate than Marte. He also has much more power than Marte.

Bottom Line: Marte has the fielding edge but Stanton beats Marte at the plate, and I’m looking more for a big bat in the lineup after taking Castro and Altuve.

CF Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

My next two selections are quite obvious as they both took the league by storm in 2012.  Playing next to each in my outfield would be Trout in center, and Bryce Harper in right field.  Mike Trout is having a great sophomore season and has proven that 2012 wasn’t a fluke. He is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the next 10-15 years.  Trout is on pace to match and/or beat the numbers he put up in his sensational rookie season.  He is without a doubt the best player on a team that includes Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.  Mike Trout also is probably the best five-tool player out there right now in the majors. Not bad for a 21 year old man in his second major league season.

Bottom Line: He is an absolute monster and will dominate the major leagues in the coming seasons.

RF Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

What can I say about this guy that everyone doesn’t already know about him?  He and Mike Trout, along with Manny Machado, basically hold the entire future of the MLB in their hands.  Harper and Trout both looked to be taking a step back early in the season, but by the end of May they were both back on their feet. Injuries also have slowed Bryce down this season and may be the reason he isn’t on pace to be a lot better than last season.

Bottom line: Harper is still having a great season, and he and Trout are going to dominate the majors in the next 10-15 years. Case closed.

Look for my next two parts about the starting rotation and the bench of the U25 team!

Statistics provided by MLB.com and ages of players are provided by bleacherreport.com.

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