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General : : Crack The Bat
PG Minor League All-Star Team
Patrick Ebert        
Published: Thursday, September 23, 2010

Every year I compile a list of minor league all-stars represented by players who previously have attended a Perfect Game showcase or tournament event.

 

Last year’s list included Jeremy Hellickson (who is again listed this year, his third year in a row), Jason Heyward, Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Travis Wood and Sean Rodriguez, all of whom have made significant contributions to playoff aspiring big-league ballclubs this year.

 

The Tigers may not be competing for the playoffs, at least they haven’t been for several months, but Austin Jackson has performed very well since being handed the everyday job in CF to open this season.  As part of a three-team trade last offseason, Jackson was essentially swapped for Curtis Granderson, now with the Yankees.

 

It looks as though the Pirates will finish with the worse record in all of baseball this year, but Pedro Alvarez cemented his role in the middle of the Pirates lineup for years to come.  Should the Pirates ever crawl out of the cellar, Alvarez will be looked upon to play a big role in that turnaround.

 

The success of players that have graced this list in previous years could be very good news for Royals fans, as their three best prospects are the heart and soul of the middle of this projected lineup.  They won’t be complementing an already strong team like many of the players listed above once they make it to Kansas City, they will be defining it.

 

Mike Stanton, who spent 53 games in AA before getting the call up for the Marlins, put up big enough numbers to be considered, but established himself far too quickly as a big-leaguer to get the nod for this list.

 

Similar to past years, I like stacking up this team how they would look one-through-nine (well, actually one-through-eight since I’m not picking a designated hitter), followed by a trio of pitchers and a potential closer.

 

Mike Trout - CF (Angels)

 

Trout put up incredible numbers for the Cedar Rapids Kernels before getting the bump up to high-A mid-way through the minor league season.  He was named the Midwest League’s MVP despite playing only 81 games, and overall hit .341/.428/.490 between two levels with 56 stolen bases in 71 attempts.  Midwest League teams couldn’t stop him from getting on base, and when he did, they also couldn’t stop him from stealing bases at will.  His production slowed upon his promotion to Rancho Cucamonga in the Cal League, but he still batted .306 with 15 extra-base hits in 50 games, and certainly appears to be on the fast-track for the Angels.

 

Brett Jackson - LF (Cubs)

 

Jackson also enjoyed a fine season between two levels, splitting his season between Dayton in the Florida State League and Tennessee in the Southern League at the AA level.  He showed the ability to hit for both average (.297) and power (.493 SLG), with 32 doubles, 14 triples and 12 home runs.  His variety of extra-base hits is telling of his speed, as were his 30 stolen bases on the year.  He is one of two Cubs prospects (Chris Archer) on this list getting closer and closer to big-league consideration, although he is somewhat blocked by Alfonso Soriano and his albatross contract in left field.  While Jackson is athletic enough to play any outfield position, his arm is best suited in left.

 

Wil Myers - C (Royals)

 

In a recurring theme at the top of this list, Myers also hit very well between two levels, and he actually hit better after his promotion to Wilmington in the Eastern League (.346) than he did in his stint with Burlington in the Midwest League (.289).  Myers is one of the best overall hitters in the minors, with an extremely disciplined approach for a player his age, walking almost as many times as he struck out (85 to 94).  He got on base 43% of the time, and showed both gap and over the fence power.  He has improved behind the plate defensively and is starting to quiet some speculation that he may have to move to another position.

 

Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia, who was rewarded for his big season with a big-league callup, also enjoyed a big year at the plate.

 

Mike Moustakas - 3B (Royals)

 

If nothing else, Moustakas will be the answer to a good trivia question:  Who is the last player to hit a home run at Rosenblatt?  He blasted 36 homers between both AA and AAA this season, one step ahead of Hosmer as listed below and two ahead of Myers, while hitting .322/.369/.630 overall, adding 41 doubles and 124 RBI to his impressive stat line.  He more than silenced his critics coming off of a mediocre season last year, and will likely head to spring training in contention for a regular spot in the Royals lineup to open the 2011 season.

 

Eric Hosmer - 1B (Royals)

 

Royals fans haven’t had too much to cheer about in recent years, but that could begin to change once Myers, Moustakas and Hosmer assume their position in the everyday lineup for Kansas City in the not-to-distant future.  Hosmer had the most competition for this nomination, with Freddie Freeman and Brandon Belt also enjoying big years as first baseman.  He edged those two out by hitting .338/.406/.571, again, between the high-A and AA levels, blasting 43 doubles, 9 triples and 20 home runs.  Similar to his Royals prospect-mates, he also did a good job managing the strike zone (59 walks, 66 strikeouts), particularly for his age relative to the level he was playing at.

 

Dominic Brown - RF (Phillies)

 

With a 6-foot-5, 200-pound frame, everyone knew there was more power to Brown’s swing, who has steadily progressed the last four years since being drafted in the 20th round of the 2006 draft.  His home runs have climbed from nine to 14 to 20 in his last three seasons while also setting a career high in average (.327).  He too enjoyed success at two levels before getting a call-up to the big-league club as the Phillies march confidently towards the postseason.  Brown profiles well in right field, where he may replace free-agent-to-be Jayson Werth to open the 2011 season.

 

Grant Green - SS (Athletics)

 

Since Green’s professional debut for Stockton a year ago lasted only five games, he returned to the same team this year and remained with the club all season, hitting an impressive .318/.363/.520 with some gaudy extra-base hit numbers:  39 doubles, 6 triples and 20 home runs.  The A’s may be more aggressive with Green next year as he ascends towards Oakland, although he will need to improve his defense (37 errors) to rid himself of speculation that he may be better suited at third base.

 

Nick Franklin (Mariners) was a close second after posting big numbers during his first full professional season as a 19-year old in the Midwest League.

 

Brett Lawrie - 2B (Brewers)

 

In only his second professional season, Lawrie was one of the youngest players in the Southern League, as he has been placed aggressively by the Brewers since they took him 16th overall in the 2008 draft.  After starting the season slow, he acclimated himself to AA pitching and finished the year with a very respectable .285/.346/.451 line.  You can get a sense for his tools set by looking at some of his others numbers:  36 doubles, 16 triples, 8 homers and 30 stolen bases, clearly living up to his reputation as an offensive-minded player.  He still may be suited at a different position long-term, but he also continues to garner comparisons to a young Jeff Kent.

 

If you’re an AL fan, take any of the players that just missed the cut (Freddie Freeman, Brandon Belt, Nick Franklin or even Mike Stanton) to plug in as the team’s designated hitter to give this lineup nine hitters.

 

Jeremy Hellickson - SP (Rays)

 

As noted above, this is the third consecutive year that Hellickson has appeared on this list.  Year after year he went out and posted very good numbers, pitching much bigger than his smallish, 6-foot-1, 185-pound listed frame.  He went 12-3 with a 2.72 ERA this summer in 22 appearances before getting the call to the big-leagues where his success has continued with the playoff bound Rays.  Hellickson spent six seasons in the minors, going 49-16 with a 2.72 ERA before making his debut at 23-years of age.  As a native of Iowa, Hellickson remains a favorite among the Perfect Game staff.

 

Kyle Drabek - SP (Blue Jays)

 

Drabek appeared on this list a year ago as an honorable mention, and he bested the season he had last year with another strong year at the same level, although with a new organization.  Drabek of course was the key cog that allowed the Phillies to acquire Roy Halladay from the Toronto Blue Jays, and he recently made his big-league debut.  After going 14-9 this season with a 2.94 ERA, he has now tossed nearly 260 innings in the AA Eastern League with a 3.21 ERA between this year and last, and may be polished enough to stick in Toronto for good.  Should he continue a more patient path, similar to Hellickson, he may return to AAA to open next season for his final tune-up.

 

Chris Archer - SP (Cubs)

 

Being traded to the Cubs from the Indians as part of a deal for Mark DeRosa was the best thing that happened to Archer’s baseball career, as he immediately turned his fortunes around starting a year ago, and continued to get better this year.  Similar to both Hellickson and Drabek, he’s not the most physically imposing figure on the mound, but he has an electric arm, and after going 7-1 with a 2.86 ERA in the Florida State League, he went 8-2 with a 1.80 ERA in the Southern League.  Missing bats has never been a problem for him, and a little more polish next year should help iron out some command issues.

 

Zach Britton (Orioles), John Lamb (Royals) and Robbie Erlin (Rangers) deserve an honorable mention.

 

Billy Bullock - CL (Twins)

 

It’s no surprise that the final member of this team enjoyed enough success to be promoted one step closer to the big-leagues at the midseason point, beginning the year in the Florida State League before joining the Twins AA affiliate in the Eastern League.  Collectively he posted 27 saves, as Bullock was drafted in the second round last year with the intent on fast-tracking him to Minnesota as a short reliever and potential closer.  He has the size and stuff to compete with anyone, striking out 105 batters in 74 innings of work, although he will need to continue to hone his control after walking 43 batters.  He already has 38 professional saves under his belt, and could be knocking at the big-league door well before this point next year.

 

The thoughts and opinions listed here do not necessarily reflect those of Perfect Game USA.  Patrick Ebert is affiliated with both Perfect Game USA and 5 Tool Talk, and can be contacted via email at pebert@5tooltalk.com.