By: Sam Rowley
Every MLB team needs some young talent to build the future around. Here is every AL team's best guy 25 and under.
A new generation of baseball talent is upon us. Every team seems to have a few young jewels that are projected to be or are already perennial stars. Here is one young star from each American League team: (Note: players must be 25 years old or younger)
Red Sox: Xander Bogaerts (SS)
After a rocky first year in the bigs in which Bogaerts slumped badly at the plate and was moved from his primary position of shortstop to third base, Bogaerts has exceeded expectations so far in 2015. At only 24 years of age, Bogaerts has played a stellar shortstop while hitting over .300. Expect Bogaerts to be the six man in Boston for many years to come.
Orioles: Manny Machado (3B)
Machado emerged in 2013 as one of the premier defensive third baseman in baseball. At only 23, he possesses tremendous arm strength along with an explosive power in his swing. This year he is hitting .300 with 20 HR and 50 RBI. Machado will be a regular in the Orioles lineup for the next decade as long as he can stay healthy.
Yankees: Robert Refsnyder (2B)
Refsnyder makes the list simply because of the lack of talent coming out of the Yankee farm system. However, he has produced at all levels of the Yankees farm system. An outfielder during his days at the University of Arizona where he led the wildcats to the 2012 National Championship, Refsnyder has adjusted nicely to his new position of second base. I expect Refsnyder to earn consistent playing time at the major league level in years to come.
Blue Jays: Marcus Stroman (RHP)
This is someone I am particularly high on. Only 5’8, Stroman features an explosive fastball in the mid 90’s with an unhittable, sweeping curveball as well as four other pitches in his arsenal. Stroman made his major league debut in the middle of the 2014 season and quickly became the team’s ace. His fast twitch athleticism is off the charts. Blue Jays skipper John Gibbons has even used him as a pinch runner at times and few other hurlers in the league field the position as well as Stroman. Ironically, Stroman tore his ACL while practicing bunt defense in spring training and has yet to pitch an inning for the Jays this year. If you haven’t watched his 2014 highlight video, watch it right now. It’s impressive.
Rays: Matt Moore (LHP)
Moore is one of Tampa’s premier young arms. After debuting in 2011, Moore had stellar 2012 and 2013 years and then unfortunately underwent Tommy John surgery in early 2014. Although he possesses so much talent and an arsenal of effective pitches, Moore has yet to show the same dominance in 2015 that he did in 2012 and 2013.
Tigers: Jose Iglesias (SS)
Iglesias is the top defensive shortstop in the American League and arguably the second best shortstop in the league. While his defense has never been in doubt, his offensive production has not always been there, prompting Boston to trade him to Detroit back in 2013. This year, however, Iglesias has been quite productive at the plate, hitting .321. After missing the entire 2014 season due to fractures in both shins, it looks like Tigers fans are going to be seeing a lot of Jose Iglesias for years to come as long as he can stay healthy.
Twins: Byron Buxton (OF)
The second overall pick in the 2012 draft, Buxton made his major league debut on June 14, 2015 for the second-place Twins. Buxton is one of the most touted prospects to come out of the Twins farm system in a long time. The outfielder is still refining his defensive skills but already possesses a plus arm and a sweet stroke. Twins fans will have to be patient with Buxton as he adjusts to major league pitching. He is currently recovering from a sprained thumb.
White Sox: Carlos Rodon (LHP)
Rodon was one of the most major league ready pitchers coming out of last years draft in which he was selected third overall. The 22 year old southpaw posted dominant numbers during a 3 year career at NC State and impressively made it to the big leagues in August of 2014 after only 9 minor league starts. This year Rodon is 3-2 with a 3.80 ERA. I expect Rodon to blossom into a perennial All Star in the years to come.
Indians: Francisco Lindor (SS)
Young Francisco is one of the smoothest shortstops in the game. Most 21 year olds who make it to the big league level at such a young age are exceptional defensive talents whose offensive production will improve in the years to come. Lindor is no exception. The switch hitting Lindor is batting .246 in his time in the bigs so far this year. As long as his offensive production increases in the years to come, Lindor will become one of the premier shortstops in Major League Baseball.
Royals: Yordano Ventura (RHP)
The 24 year old shined last year in his first year of Major League Baseball. Similar to Marcus Stroman, the 5’11 RHP possesses a blazing high 90’s fastball and complements it well with a devastating curveball. Ventura came up big for the Royals in Game 6 of last year’s World Series, when he tossed a 3 hitter, forcing a Game 7. However, Ventura has struggled mightily in his sophomore campaign following the $23 million contract the Royals gave him. Ventura was optioned to Class AAA Omaha where he is expected to regain form.
Astros: Carlos Correa (SS)
The 20 year-old Puerto Rican burst onto the scene this year. Major League Baseball’s first overall pick in the 2012 draft, Correa has played a stellar shortstop for the upstart Astros. With fellow young stud Jose Altuve at second base, the Correa-Altuve pairing will be a formidable duo in the middle infield for the Astros for many years to come. Unlike many other young stars, Correa has handled major league pitching very well. He is hitting .293 with 8 HR in 38 games this season.
Angels: Mike Trout (CF)
2012 AL Rookie of the Year, 2012 and 2013 AL MVP Runner up, 2014 AL MVP, Back to back all star game MVP awards at 23 years old, Mike Trout will be one of the greatest to ever play the game of Baseball.
A’s: Sonny Gray (RHP)
The 25 year old ace of the Oakland pitching staff has certainly lived up to expectations for a successful big league career. The former Vanderbilt Commodore and 2011 first round draft pick possesses dominant stuff and will continue to improve in the coming years. Through 136.3 innings of work this year, Gray has recorded 115 strikeouts and has a 2.30 ERA.
Mariners: Jesus Montero (C/1B)
Montero makes the list because of the lack of young established Major League talent in Seattle. Once a top prospect, the 25 year old has fallen well short of projections and lofty expectations. Montero posted average numbers with the Mariners in 2012 and, so far, that has been the highlight of his major league career. In 2013, Montero was suspended for 50 games for PED use, and he has struggled with his weight and has had behavioral issues since. This year however, Montero has been producing nicely in the Mariners farm system and has recently been called up to the big leagues. Perhaps Montero will finally give Mariners fans what they are waiting for.
Rangers: Rougned Odor (2B)
This kid is 21 years old and has been lighting it up at the big league level as of late. The second baseman has been sound for the Rangers defensively and thus far this year has hit .268. However in his last seven games Odor has been on fire for the third place Rangers, hitting .429 with 2 HR and 6 RBI. Although the sample size is small, Odor has the potential to become something great.
Thanks for reading. National League edition coming soon!