Minors | General | 9/10/2014

2014 PG Minor League All-Stars

Matt Rodriguez        

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 Corey Dickerson, who has connected for over 20 home runs with the Rockies this season, Javier Baez, a recent call-up for the Cubs, and George Springer, who has shown serious power with the Astros, and Byron Buxton, who remains baseball’s top prospect.

Like last year, 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. Justin Nicolino and Daniel Norris were second round selections, while Mookie Betts was a fifth round pick. The Athletics, Dodgers, and Red Sox each have two players on the first team. The Dodgers, Nationals, and Red Sox each have three players mentioned, while the Blue Jays, Brewers, and Mets each have two.

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

Starting Lineup

CF Mookie Betts (Red Sox)
Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the fifth round of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft, the No. 306 ranked high school prospect in the class of 2011 has exceeded everyone’s expectations early on and made a seamless transition from second base, where he was mentioned on this list last year, to center field and has put the pressure on Jackie Bradley Jr. to step it up. The speedy center fielder has soared through the minor leagues, moving up from full season A to Triple-A since the beginning of 2013. Betts excelled at the minor league levels and fits in our lineup as an ideal leadoff hitter. With at least 300 minor league at-bats this season between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket, the 5-foot-9 outfielder tallied a .346 batting average (138-for-399), a .431 on-base percentage (a key statistic for a leadoff hitter) with 46 extra-base hits and 33 stolen bases. His exceptional play, combined with the struggles of the Red Sox outfielders, led Betts to his Major League debut in late June and he has been up and down the system ever since. Impressing in Boston with the bat and the glove through 33 games played, Betts isn’t far off from landing a full-time gig in the Majors.

RF Joc Pederson (Dodgers)
The 6-foot-1 lefty has been on the prospect radar for quite some time now, and with the season he put together this year with Triple-A Albuquerque it’s obvious why. He improved in just about every statistical batting category from a year ago and saw a lot of last year’s doubles clear the fence for home runs this season. The No. 95 ranked high school prospect in 2010 has shown continuous growth and honed his skills to be just about Major League-ready. The 22-year-old corner outfielder turned in 10 games with three hits or more this season, with his big day coming back in April against El Paso. Pederson went 4-for-4 with a double, two home runs, and five RBI, leaving Dodgers fans anxious to get him in the Dodger-blue uniform. He was the recipient of a September call-up and is getting his opportunity to earn a spot on the Dodgers roster next Spring. With a .303 batting average, a .435 on-base percentage, 106 runs, 33 home runs, and 30 stolen bases, Pederson is a multi-dimensional offensive weapon with above-average speed and plus-power, making him a perfect fit for second in the lineup just in front of the true power hitters. Pederson is ranked No. 17 in the Baseball Prospectus Top 50 prospect rankings compiled back in July.

3B Kris Bryant* (Cubs)
This year’s Minor League Player of the Year makes the perfect candidate for the prime spot in the Perfect Game Minor League All-Star lineup. The second overall pick out of the University of San Diego in the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft has not only lived up to the hype, but has crushed that hype out of the yard for a Minor League-leading 43 home runs in 2014. A 2009 Perfect Game All-American and the No. 39 ranked prospect in the 2010 high school class, Bryant put up eye-popping numbers at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa, combining for a .325 batting average, .438 on-base percentage, 118 runs, 78 extra-base hits, and an incredible .661 slugging percentage. Bryant’s highlight game came in early May with the Tennessee Smokies when he went 3-for-4 with a double, two home runs, six RBI, and four runs scored. With the numbers and accolades Bryant earned at the high Minor League levels, he’ll surely get his chance to make the 25-man roster in the Spring. Bryant is ranked No. 3 in the Baseball Prospectus Top 50 prospect rankings.

DH Joey Gallo* (Rangers)
Monster power numbers in the Arizona League and South Atlantic League last year got him a mention on last year’s PG All-Star squad, but what he did this year earned him the cleanup spot in the lineup. Taken in the first round of the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Bishop Gorman High School, Gallo already find himself in Double-A Frisco excelling at the dish. Spending the 2014 campaign at High-A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Frisco, Gallo finished just behind Bryant with 42 home runs and 106 RBI. He also collected an impressive 97 runs and tallied a .615 slugging percentage. Gallo’s power can change the dynamics of a ballgame very quickly. He had multiple home runs in five games this year with Myrtle Beach. In late April, Gallo went 3-for-4 with three home runs, six RBI, three walks, and four runs, leaving Rangers fans in disbelief. Three weeks later, he went 4-for-4 with another three home runs, five RBI, and four more runs, leaving Rangers fan impatient at that point. His incredible numbers make it hard to believe that just three years ago the 20-year-old was a Perfect Game All-American and the No. 6 ranked prospect in the 2012 high school class. His numbers should very easily explain the reasoning for putting him in the four hole. Don’t be surprised to see Gallo get his chance in Arlington at some point in his 2015 campaign if his numbers stay consistent. Gallo is ranked No. 13 in Baseball Prospectus’ Midseason rankings.

1B Matt Olson (Athletics)
Taken in the first round of the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Parkview High School in Georgia, the 20-year-old first baseman put up impressive power numbers at High-A Stockton while also displaying the ability to consistently get on base. The lefthanded hitting first baseman crushed 37 home runs during his 2014 campaign while tallying a .404 on-base percentage and collecting 97 RBI. He also showed the ability to make things happen on the base paths, not necessarily with speed but with awareness, scoring 111 runs. Power on top of power on top of power makes the 3-4-5 spots of this lineup very dangerous. Pitchers have to be very careful, even starting with Pederson, or these hitters will make them pay quick. Olson’s big game came in the middle of June when he went 5-for-6 with a double, two home runs, five RBI, and three runs against the Bakersfield Blaze in the California League. Still very young, Olson offers the potential to eventually make a splash in Oakland in the future if he can keep his on-base percentage up and his power numbers stay consistent.

SS Corey Seager* (Dodgers)
To say that Seager had a strong 2014 campaign at High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Chattanooga would be an understatement. Drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first round of the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft, the 20-year-old shortstop has been on the prospect radar ever since. Although he still had solid numbers in 2013, his 2014 season has solidified his spot among the most highly anticipated prospects to make a splash in the Majors. The 2011 Perfect Game All-American registered a .349 batting average (166-for-475), a .402 on-base percentage, along with 75 extra-base hits, including 20 home runs, 97 RBI, and 89 runs. Seager’s lefthanded hit tool is well above average for shortstops, making him an enticing prospect and an easy choice to put him in our starting lineup. Ranked No. 24 in the 2012 high school class, Seager has backed up all high expectations. He collected five four-hit ballgames, including a performance in July in which he went 4-for-6 with two home runs, six RBI, a walk, and two runs. Yes, the Dodgers do have a star shortstop in Hanley Ramirez, but Corey Seager will get his call when the time is right and will make the post-Hanley days easy to move past. Seager is ranked No. 19 in Baseball Prospectus’ Midseason rankings.

LF Michael Taylor (Nationals)
The 23-year-old outfield prospect of the Nationals, Taylor gets the nod for left field after seeing improvements in his power and average from a year ago. The 6-foot-3 righthanded hitter usually roams center field, but slides over to make room for Betts on this team. After spending most of his 2014 campaign in Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse, his phenomenal numbers earned him a nod to Washington on August 12th, where he’s seen a fair share of time. Taylor hit .304 (130-for-428) with 23 home runs and a very respectable 37 stolen bases, showing his ability to hit for power and hold down the gas pedal when he needs to. The game Nats fans are holding on to was Taylor’s late April performance in Harrisburg when he went 3-for-4 with three home runs, four RBI, and four runs against the Bowie Baysox. Watch out for Taylor’s impact at the next level, as he’s shown he can change the game in various ways.

Scott Schebler (Dodgers) was highly considered for the nod in a corner outfield spot after another solid campaign. Making the starting lineup a year ago in right field, Schebler will follow Taylor in left this time around. His numbers remained very consistent, for the most part. In Double-A Chattanooga, Schebler collected a very impressive 65 extra-base hits, including 28 home runs, giving him a .556 slugging percentage. After hitting 27 home runs a year ago, Schebler has shown he’s good for a consistent 25-plus home runs per season.

C Clint Coulter (Brewers)
At just 21-years-old, Coulter is putting together impressive campaigns. Drafted in the first round of the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of high school, the Brewers may be able to accelerate Coulter's development path with news of their plans to move him out from behind the dish starting in 2015. Coulter finished with a .287 batting average (123-for-429), a .410 on-base percentage, 53 extra-base hits (including 22 home runs), 89 RBI, 84 runs, and a strong .520 slugging percentage after a full year in the Single-A Midwest League. The righthanded hitter had three multi-home run games for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, including a 3-for-4 performance with two home runs, five RBI, and two runs at Peoria in early August.

2B Daniel Robertson* (Athletics)
Rounding out the starting nine is another excellent shortstop, who will move over to second base here to give Seager his natural position. After the 20-year-old put together an impressive season at High-A Stockton in the California League, Athletics fans can feel a little better about giving up their prized shortstop prospect Addison Russell. A Perfect Game All-American just three years ago, Robertson hit .310 (170-for-548) with 15 home runs, 60 RBI, 110 runs, and a solid .402 on-base percentage through 132 games. The No. 47 ranked high school prospect in the class of 2012 had his most impressive game in early August when he went 5-for-5 with a double, a walk, and four runs. He could very easily make Athletics fans forget about Russell if he keeps producing like he did this year. Having him in the nine spot in the lineup makes this a dangerous lineup to face from top to bottom.

Pitching Staff

LHP Ryan Merritt (Indians)
Anchoring the starting rotation is southpaw Ryan Merritt, who had a phenomenal 2014 season for High-A Carolina in the Carolina League. The lean 6-foot lefty compiled a 13-3 record through 25 starts and 160 1/3 innings of work, earning a 2.58 earned run average and impressive 0.95 WHIP (walks/hits per innings pitched). Command was not an issue for Merritt, who collected 127 strikeouts compared to just 25 walks. The 22-year-old turned in quality starts in 16 of his 25 games, including an eight-inning gem in June in which he gave up just one earned run off of three hits and a walk while collecting five strikeouts to earn the win against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. His solid campaign earned him a spot atop the staff and leaves the Cleveland fans optimistic about their future rotation.

LHP Justin Nicolino (Marlins)
Just 22-years-old, southpaw Justin Nicolino is providing Marlins fans with hope of a dominant pitching staff in the near future with a healthy Jose Fernandez. Spending the 2014 season in Double-A Jacksonville in the Southern League, the 6-foot-3 lefty compiled a 14-4 record through 28 starts and 170 1/3 innings of work. The second round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2010 MLB Draft put together a solid season with a 2.85 earned run average, a 1.07 WHIP, and collected two complete game shutouts. The No. 122 ranked high school prospect in 2010 tallied 16 quality starts, including a nine-inning shutout in June against the Birmingham Barons in which he surrendered just five hits while collecting four strikeouts in the win. Nicolino’s consistency and advanced stuff has him high on most prospect lists.

LHP Daniel Norris* (Blue Jays)
The third starter of the four-man rotation is Toronto Blue Jays prospect Daniel Norris, who was a Perfect Game All-American and National Showcase participant in 2010. Ranked No. 2 in the 2011 high school class, Norris has lived up to expectations and flew through Minor League levels in 2014, starting at High-A Dunedin, moving to Double-A New Hampshire, then to Triple-A Buffalo, and finally earning a September call-up with Toronto. The southpaw appeared in 26 games in the Minor Leagues this year, making 25 starts and throwing 124 2/3 innings. The 6-foot-2 lefty put together a 12-2 record with a 2.53 earned run average and 1.11 WHIP, striking out 163 batters in the process. He collected four double-digit strikeout games, including a 13-strikeout performance in August with Triple-A Buffalo. He hasn’t shown the ability to work deep into games as a starter, so it remains to be seen whether or not he will remain in the rotation or be a bullpen guy at the next level. One thing is clear, however, his stuff is nasty. Norris is ranked No. 33 in the Baseball Prospectus Top 50 prospect rankings

LHP Henry Owens* (Red Sox)
For the second year in a row, 2010 Perfect Game All-American Henry Owens fills out the starting rotation. Just 21-years-old, Owens has already established himself as one of the best Minor League pitching prospects after spending 2014 in Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket. The 6-foot-6 southpaw finished the campaign with a Minor League-best 17 wins, going 17-5 through 26 starts and 159 innings pitched. The first round pick of the Boston Red Sox in the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft compiled a 2.94 earned run average and a 1.13 WHIP, with a dominant 170 strikeouts and two complete game shutouts to go with it. The No. 9 ranked high school prospect in 2011 and former Most Valuable Pitcher of the 2009 WWBA World Championship turned in 15 quality starts and pitched into the seventh inning in almost half of his starts. The Boston rotation may appear to be pretty depleted for the time being, but help is on the way. Owens is ranked No. 40 in the Baseball Prospectus Top 50 prospect rankings

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:

Staff 2:
RHP Jose Berrios (Twins)

RHP John Gant (Mets)

RHP Austin Kubitza (Tigers)

RHP Tyler Wagner (Brewers)

Staff 3:
LHP Brian Johnson (Red Sox)

RHP Taylor Hill (Nationals)

LHP Rob Kaminsky* (Cardinals)

RHP A.J. Cole * (Nationals)

CL – RHP Akeel Morris (Mets)
Spending his 2014 season in Single-A with the Savannah Sand Gnats, the 21-year-old righthander from the Virgin Islands was way too much to handle for opposing hitters. Appearing in 41 games, Morris compiled a 4-1 record with 16 saves, a 0.63 earned run average, and a 0.72 WHIP through 57 innings of work. Morris also collected 89 strikeouts to just 19 hits and 22 walks surrendered. In a game in early April, Morris threw three innings of relief in which he struck out nine batters and walked just one. He has the dominant stuff of a good closer and Mets fans should be excited about what he can do.

Arik Sikula (Blue Jays) also received consideration for the relief role, posting a 3-1 record with a 2.01 earned run average and an impressive 1.06 WHIP with High-A Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire. He also tallied 31 saves and 80 strikeouts to just 12 walks through 58 1/3 innings.

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