Contributing: Dan Edwards
For the past few years Perfect Game has compiled a Minor League All-Star team made up of former Perfect Game participants. The teams are always filled with impressive talent recognizable to baseball fans across the country. This year's team includes a starting lineup that includes the DH position, a four-man starting rotation, and a closer. Other players who had standout seasons are also mentioned in the article, along with two additional four-man pitching rotations.
Last year’s team included current Major League players like speedster Billy Hamilton, Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, and Rays catalyst Wil Myers in the starting lineup. Last year’s pitching rotations including current MLB starter and probable National League Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins, as well as Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole and New York Mets hurler Zack Wheeler.
It comes as no surprise that six of the 14 players named to the first team were first round draft picks, while three more were taken in the top five rounds. Jake Barrett was a third round selection, Garin Cecchini a fourth-rounder, and Gregory Bird a fifth round selection. Byron Buxton, Javier Baez, and Archie Bradley are all the top prospects of their respective organizations. The Rockies, Red Sox, and Diamondbacks each have two players on the first team. The Red Sox have four players mentioned, while the Braves and Diamondbacks each have three.
Like past years, all players mentioned have previously attended a Perfect Game event. The lineup was constructed based on the players’ strengths and in an order that could easily mirror a professional All-Star lineup in the future.
All prospect rankings courtesy of Baseball Prospectus
* Indicates the player is a former Perfect Game All-American
CF Byron Buxton (Twins)
Coming out of high School as the second overall pick in the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft, Buxton had high expectations to meet. To say he has met those expectations would be an understatement, as he’s excelled in his first full season as a professional baseball player. Buxton was ranked eighth on the Baseball Prospectus Top 101 Prospects list to start the year and will likely move up after his performance this season. He collected a .334 batting average with 49 extra-base hits, including an eye-popping 18 triples. He showed game-changing speed with 55 stolen bases, along with power (.520 slugging percentage), and the ability to get on base (.424 on-base percentage) and make things happen (109 runs scored). The 19-year-old drew comparisons to what Mike Trout did in the minors, not to mention they both spent some time patrolling the outfield for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. His numbers speak loudly as a hitter, but if there were a category for flashiest plays in the outfield, Buxton would be leading that too. We have him in the leadoff spot because of the impact he was on changing a game every time he gets on base.
2B Devon Travis (Tigers)
A 13th round pick in the 2012 draft out of Florida State University, Travis showed the Tigers organization the Midwest League would be just a brief vacation through his minor league career, posting a .352 average (102-for-290) to go along with a .430 on-base percentage. He proved that the high-A Florida State League wasn’t really much different, hitting .350 in 55 games. In fact, he started to flash more power after the promotion, raising his slugging percentage from .486 in the Midwest League to .561 in Florida, where he hit 10 home runs. In a game against the Dunedin Blue Jays on August 7, Travis went 4-for-5 with two home runs, seven RBI, and three runs scored. You could say he finished the season leaving both the organization and fans excited for the future at second base in Detroit.
Mookie Betts (Red Sox) and Tommy La Stella (Braves) were also considered for the second base position. Betts hit .314 (145-for-462) between the South Atlantic League and Carolina League. He tallied a .417 on-base percentage with 55 extra-base hits. La Stella hit an impressive .356 (108-for-303) between the Carolina League and Southern league. He showed excellent plate discipline, finishing the year with a .444 on-base percentage.
SS Javier Baez* (Cubs)
This Cubs shortstop prospect earned our spot as the power guy in our lineup based on the monstrous numbers he put up this season, slugging an impressive 37 home runs this year between high-A and AA, while tallying 111 RBI. He also collected 34 doubles, bringing his extra-base hit total to 75. A shortstop with a .578 slugging percentage? Yeah, he’s got some pop in his bat. If the Cubs first-round pick in the 2011 draft continues to produce next year, he isn’t far off from landing in Chicago. His 4-for-4 showing on June 10 with the Daytona Cubs kept fans talking for the remainder of the season. He hit four home runs and collected seven RBI and four runs scored in that game alone. This came just nine days after he had a 5-for-6 showing with three doubles, a home run, and six RBI. The power-hitting shortstop was ranked 20th by Baseball Prospectus coming into the season and will likely emerge as the Cubs Top Prospect.
Carlos Correa* (Astros) was considered for the shortstop position after having an impressive season in the Midwest League, hitting .320 (144-for-450) with 45 extra-base hits and 86 RBI. The former Perfect Game All-American and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft also posted an .405 on-base percentage, very impressive numbers considering the Puerto Rican shortstop is only 18-years-old.
DH George Springer (Astros)
If you saw the PG Minor League All-Star team last year, then this name would look familiar. Springer has made the squad two straight years; only this time we are putting him in the cleanup spot. After impressing scouts while at UConn, Springer was taken 11th overall in the 2011 draft. Springer flashed the power tool a fair amount in his first full season last year, hitting 22 home runs in the high-A California League. This year he blew that mark out of the water, connecting for 37 home runs and 108 RBI between the AA Texas League and AAA Pacific Coast League. He has more than just the power tool though, as he tallied an impressive .411 on-base percentage, hit for a .303 average and gave pitchers something to think about on the bases, swiping 45 bags (85-percent stolen base success rate). Posting All-Star numbers at 23-years-old at the AAA level, Springer may be the closest prospect on the list to reaching the majors. Typically a center fielder, Springer is placed in the lineup as DH due to the emergence of Buxton. He was ranked 55th by Baseball Prospectus heading into the season.
LF Corey Dickerson (Rockies)
After spending two years at Meridian (Miss.) Community College, the Colorado Rockies took Dickerson in the eighth round of the 2010 draft. He hit a jaw-dropping .371 (117-for-315) in the AAA Pacific Coast League with a .632 slugging percentage (21 doubles, 14 triples, 11 home runs). On May 11 against the Omaha Storm Chasers, Dickerson fell a single shy of hitting for the cycle, going 4-for-5 with two doubles, a triple, a home run, five RBI, and three runs scored. The 24-year-old showed the Rockies that after three full seasons in the farm system he is Major League-ready. A regular starter in the Rockies lineup since the end of July, Dickerson has made an impression, hitting .290 (42-for-145) with 19 extra-base hits and a .335 on-base percentage, which should earn Dickerson a spot on the Rockies Opening Day roster next season.
Zach Borenstein (Angels) was considered highly for the nod in left field. Spending the season in the high-A California League, Borenstein hit .337 (137-for-407) with 57 extra-base hits, including an impressive 28 home runs and 95 RBI. With an on-base percentage above .400 and a slugging percentage of .631, the decision for left field was very tough.
RF Scott Schebler (Dodgers)
Another potential star outfielder in the Dodgers organization, the 22-year-old out of Des Moines Area (Iowa) Community College improved his numbers in his second full minor league season, this season at the high-A level. Schebler showed corner outfield-type power in 125 games with Rancho Cucamonga, hitting 27 home runs and collecting 91 RBI. The left-handed hitter also posted a .581 slugging percentage with 69 extra-base hits, a .296 average (141-for-477) to go along with a .360 on-base percentage. The 26th round pick for the Dodgers in the 2010 draft has made the most of his opportunities and will continue to rise through the farm system as his numbers do.
1B Gregory Bird (Yankees)
The fifth-round selection by the Yankees in the 2011 draft out of Grandview High School in Aurora, Colorado, Bird had an outstanding season in the South Atlantic League. The 6-foot-3 left-handed slugger connected for 20 home runs and 34 doubles while collecting 84 RBI. While hitting .288 (132-for-458) with a .511 slugging percentage is great, the .428 on-base percentage shows that the first baseman has power along with plate discipline. The first baseman showed Yankees fans what he could do with the bat when he went 4-for-5 with three home runs and seven RBI on July 19 against the Greensboro Grasshoppers.
3B Garin Cecchini (Red Sox)
After missing his entire high school senior season with a torn ACL, the Red Sox took a chance on him anyway and drafted him in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. Initially he showed the Red Sox he could be a productive third baseman until he was struck on the wrist by a pitch and missed most of the 2011 campaign. He returned healthy in 2012 and played a full season in the South Atlantic League. This past season has been most impressive for the 22-year-old. Between high-A Salem and AA Portland, Cecchini hit .322 (146-for-454) with 33 doubles. He showed the ability to consistently get on base, with 94 walks and a .443 on-base percentage. If the seventh-ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization can remain healthy, he is not far off from finding a spot on the Boston roster.
Joey Gallo* (Rangers) put up monster power numbers in the Arizona League and South Atlantic League this year, hitting an incredible 40 home runs for a .623 slugging percentage. We’ve known about his power potential for a while now, after he hit a 442-foot home run off a 94 mph fastball in the 2011 Perfect Game All-American Classic, the 10th longest home run hit at Petco Park. He was named MVP of the Classic and was a first-round selection by the Texas Rangers in the 2012 draft.
C Michael Ohlman (Orioles)
Ohlman spent the season in high-A with the Frederick Keys, where he gave fans a very good reason to come out to the ballpark. In 100 games in the Carolina League, Ohlman hit .313 (113-for-361) with 46 extra-base hits, giving him a .524 slugging percentage. He sported a .410 on-base percentage and scored 61 runs for the Keys. An 11th round pick by the Baltimore Orioles in the 2009 draft out of high school, Ohlman wrapped up his second straight year hitting .300 or better. After a stellar 2013 campaign, Ohlman will likely make a splash on both the overall top prospect list and the Orioles top prospect list.
RHP Archie Bradley* (Diamondbacks)
After a stellar 2013 minor league campaign, the Diamondbacks have to be anxious to have Bradley join their club, which could happen as soon as next Spring. Taken by Arizona with the seventh overall selection in the 2011 draft out of Broken Arrow High School in Oklahoma, he was the 31st ranked prospect coming into the season and will likely break the top ten for next year. Spending his most recent season between the California League and the Southern League, Bradley compiled a 14-5 record with a remarkable 1.84 earned run average (31 earned runs in 152 innings pitched) while collecting 162 strikeouts. With a fastball that routinely registers 95 mph, Bradley projects to have one of the better fastballs out of all starters in Major League Baseball. Bradley started the 2010 Perfect Game All-American Classic for the West Squad, pitching on the same team as Henry Owens (below). This is Bradley’s second straight year being named to this team.
RHP Dylan Floro (Rays)
Drafted out of high school in 2009 by the Tampa Bay Rays, Floro passed that up to go play ball for Cal State Fullerton. Three years later the Rays drafted and this time signed Floro to a deal. The 22-year-old ace split the season between the Midwest League and Florida State League, collecting an 11-2 record with a 1.77 ERA (27 earned runs in 137.1 innings pitched) in 23 starts. Floro finished the season on a high note, throwing a complete game on August 13 while giving up just one earned run.
RHP Eddie Butler (Rockies)
Colorado’s first-round pick in the 2012 draft out of Radford University, Butler flew through the minor league levels this season with outstanding performances on the mound. Starting the season in the South Atlantic League, Butler made a brief stint in the California League (high-A) before finishing the season in the Texas League (AA). He combined for a 9-5 record with a 1.80 ERA (30 earned runs in 149.2 innings pitched) and a WHIP (walks/hits per innings pitched) of 0.989. He compiled 143 strikeouts and averaged 8.6 strikeouts for every nine innings pitched. Through his outstanding season, Butler will likely break the top prospect list before the 2014 campaign begins.
LHP Henry Owens* (Red Sox)
Taken out of high school by the Boston Red Sox in the first round of the 2011 draft, former Perfect Game All-American Henry Owens joins 2010 Classic participants Archie Bradley and Javier Baez on the Perfect Game Minor League All-Star team. Owens is the lone southpaw on this staff, compiling impressive numbers this season in the Carolina League and Eastern League (AA). Owens was 11-6 with a 2.67 ERA and was a strikeout machine, getting 169 punchouts in 135 innings. Owens is ranked seventh in the Red Sox organization.
Starting pitcher is the most difficult to select each and every year, as we went three teams deep when deciding who should be among the four-man rotation. Here are the other two rotations:
RHP C.J. Edwards (Rangers)
RHP Keyvius Sampson* (Padres)
RHP Gus Schlosser (Braves)
RHP Lucas Sims* (Braves)
LHP Brian Flynn (Marlins)
LHP David Holmberg (Diamondbacks)
RHP Anthony Ranaudo (Red Sox)
RHP Robert Stephenson* (Reds)
CL – RHP Jake Barrett (Diamondbacks)
A third round selection by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2012 draft, Barrett has taken his role as a closer to a whole new level. Spending the season between high-A and AA, Barrett combined for 29 saves and a 1.21 ERA (7 earned runs in 52 innings pitched). He struck out 59 batters while walking just 12 and compiled a 0.981 WHIP.
CJ Riefenhauser (Rays) also received consideration for the relief role, posting a 6-1 record with a 1.22 ERA (10 earned runs in 73.2 innings pitched) and an impressive 0.828 WHIP for his AA and AAA clubs. He also tallied 70 strikeouts to just 19 walks.