Minors | General | 9/22/2017

2017 PG Minor League All-Stars

Patrick Ebert        
Photo: Perfect Game

The 2017 Perfect Game Minor League All-Star Team is the 12th of its kind, starting back in 2006 which has essentially served as a preview of the players ready to make their impact at the Major League level. The team collects the best annual performers in the minor leagues, players that attended a Perfect Game event while in high school. Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Clayton Kershaw, Mike Trout, Paul Goldschmidt, Anthony Rizzo, Mookie Betts, Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Joey Votto, and Gerrit Cole have been honored during that time and are among the game's brightest stars.

Here are the links to the previous teams, which began in 2006:

2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016

Similar to past years we will name a player at each position (lined up as a projected batting order) as well as a designated hitter (generally the best hitter at any other position), a five-man starting pitching staff and a reliever. This year’s team has two repeat honorees from last year’s First Team, first baseman Rhys Hoskins of the Phillies and starting pitcher Chance Adams of the Yankees. Dominic Smith graduated from the Second Team a year ago, Eloy Jimenez returns to the Second Team, while Mitch Keller, Jimmy Herget and Jimmie Sherfy were all mentioned among the pitchers.

The Phillies, Blue Jays and Brewers each have two first-teamers. The Astros and White Sox have the most total players mentioned with three each, while the Reds, Red Sox and Braves join the Phillies, Blue Jays and Brewers with two players recognized.

What is especially interesting about this year's team is the number of players who have already spent time in the big leagues, with several of them currently on an MLB roster, with a handful sprinkled in on playoff teams. Among the players listed on the First Team below, five have already seen time in the majors, with nine others that also received the call up at some point in 2017.

* Indicates the player is a former Perfect Game All-American

Starting Lineup

Scott Kingery, 2B (Phillies)
The future of the Phillies right side of the infield looks promising, with Kingery and first baseman Rhys Hoskins hoping they can come close to matching the productivity Chase Utley and Ryan Howard did in Philadelphia together for nearly 15 years. Kingery split the season between the organization’s Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, cumulatively hitting an eye-popping .304/.359/.530 with 29 doubles, eight triples and 26 home runs to go along with 29 stolen bases in 132 minor league games.

Bo Bichette, SS (Blue Jays)
Bichette was one of the biggest storylines in the minor leagues this season, and was named to 11 All-Tournament Teams during his high school career at Perfect Game events. The production was significant for the son of the former big leaguer (Dante), who hit .362/.423/.565 with 41 doubles, four triples and 14 homers with 22 stolen bases in his first full season of professional baseball. He appears to be on the fast track to the big leagues after being taken in the second round of the 2016 MLB Draft.

Austin Hays, RF (Orioles)
Hays was rewarded for putting up huge numbers this year with a September callup, and so far he has continued to hit the ball extremely well. The numbers before that call occurred were pretty remarkable: .329/.365/.593 with 32 doubles and 32 home runs, to go along with five triples and 95 runs driven in. This is especially significant considering it was his first, full year as a professional, playing in only 38 games last summer after the Orioles took him in the third round of the 2016 draft.

Kyle Tucker*, LF (Astros)
In case the Astros offense wasn’t lethal enough, Kyle Tucker, the team’s second of two premium first-round picks in 2015 (Alex Bregman went three picks earlier), is nearly knocking at the door ready to make his mark. He spent more than half the year at the Double-A level, hitting .274/.346/.528 overall with 33 doubles, five triples and 25 home runs. He drove in 90 and even swiped 21 bases, spending time at all three outfield positions. Tucker was a PG All-American during the summer of 2014, and was considered was the safest bets to continue to hit in the 2015 draft.

Rhys Hoskins, 1B (Phillies)
Hoskins made this squad a year ago, and the only reason his numbers aren’t more gaudy is that the Phillies called him up to the big leagues. There he has hit nearly 20 dingers, and before that he hit 24 doubles and 29 home runs with 91 RBI in 115 minor league games with a .284/.385/.581 triple slash. A fifth round draft pick in 2014 out of Sacramento State, Hoskins’ power, size and procurement background are oddly similar to that of Howard’s, a fifth rounder out of Missouri State in 2001.

Nick Senzel, 3B (Reds)
While his ascent to the big leagues hasn’t been quite as rapid, the similarities between Senzel and the Nationals Ryan Zimmerman at a similar stage of his career are significant. Senzel is now hitting .315 in 187 minor league games, with 64 doubles and 21 home runs. Forty of those doubles and 14 of those homers came this season, hitting .321 across two levels while showing a mastery of the strike zone. He also committed only 14 errors at the hot corner during that time, proving to be more than just a one-trick pony.

Dominic Smith*, DH (Mets)
Smith made the second team a year ago, as a first baseman, and only slides over to DH on this team due to the presence of Rhys Hoskins. Mets fans remains excited about Smith’s future, who has improved steadily as he moved up the ladder upon entering the organization as the team’s first round pick in 2013. He was one of the most polished hitters in that year’s draft, and he’s done nothing to disprove that notion, reaching career highs in batting (.330), doubles (34), homers (16) and slugging (.519) in what appears to be his last taste of the minors.

Danny Jansen, C (Blue Jays)
Jansen enjoyed a huge breakout season in the Blue Jays system, nearly doubling the number of games he played this year from his previous career best. He showed the ability to hit for average (.323) and power (37 extra-base hits including 10 home runs) while playing a premium position, and moved up from Advanced-A ball to Triple-A over the course of the season. Now Jansen is in position to get his first taste of the big leagues, an impressive development from the Blue Jays’ 16th-round pick in the 2013 MLB Draft.

Lewis Brinson, CF (Brewers)
On the cusp of becoming a star at the big league level, Brinson may not have found his way in the big leagues yet – batting .106 so far in 21 games this season – he has thrived in the minors, raking at the Triple-A level ever since he was acquired from the Rangers as part of the trade for Jonathan Lucroy. He kept on hitting this year, batting .331/.400/.562, and also shows the signs of being a dynamic center fielder. The tune up appears to be close to being over, now it’s simply a matter of Brinson earning a spot with the big league club out of spring training.

The second team is comprised of the following players:

C – Victor Caratini (Cubs)
1B – Peter Alonso (Mets)
2B – Willie Calhoun (Rangers)
3B – Michael Chavis* (Red Sox)
SS – Brendan Rodgers* (Rockies)
OF – Derek Fisher (Astros)
OF – Eloy Jimenez (White Sox)
OF – Chris Shaw (Giants)
DH – Rafael Devers (Red Sox)

Pitching Staff

Jon Duplantier, RHP (Diamondbacks)
Professional baseball seems to fit Duplantier well, dominating two levels of A ball this season after the D-Backs selected him with their third round pick in 2016. Duplantier always showed considerable promise and the pieces seemed to have clicked, splitting the year between the team’s Low-A and Advanced-A levels while collectively going 12-3 with a 1.39 ERA in 25 games, 24 of which were starts. He accumulated 136 innings during that time, allowing just 91 base hits and 42 walks while fanning 165 batters. Duplantier appears to be on the fast track to Arizona.

Jack Flaherty*, RHP (Cardinals)
Flaherty started the 2013 Perfect Game All-American Classic as a third baseman for the West squad and was drafted in the first round by the Cardinals 10 months later as a pitcher. His success was rewarded this year with a late call-up to the big leagues after going 14-4 with a 2.18 ERA at the Double-A and Triple-A levels. Despite being a two-way talent in high school Flaherty has moved quickly with a great deal of success, going 29-17 overall with a 2.77 ERA in four seasons as a professional.

Corbin Burnes, RHP (Brewers)
The Brewers fourth-round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, Burnes acclimated himself well to professional baseball, and quickly, splitting each of the last two summers at two levels of the minor leagues, finishing this past year at the Double-A level. In 26 starts this summer Burnes went 8-3 with a 1.85 ERA, carving up opposing hitters by allowing just 103 base hits and 36 walks in 145 2/3 innings while striking out 140. He too appears to be poised to make his mark at the Major League level very soon.

Zack Littell, RHP (Twins)
Nineteen wins is a pretty rare feat these days at the Major League level, and Littell went 19-1 this past season in just 27 games in the minors, 25 of which were starts. He was traded to the Twins in late July from the Yankees as part of the package for Jaime Garcia and went 5-0 in August as a member of the Twins organization. He also posted a 2.12 ERA in 157 innings, striking out 142 during that time, and now appears to be a short, final tune-up away from getting the call to the big leagues.

Chance Adams, RHP (Yankees)
Adams followed up his 2016 season, in which he went 13-1 with a 2.33 ERA across two levels, with another dominant year, going 15-5 with a 2.45 ERA, again across two levels. That success has led to him being selected for the PG Minor League All-Star Team each of the last two years, and now he’s poised to earn a spot in the Yankees’ starting rotation at some point next season, if not out of spring training. That would be quite the quick study for the team’s fifth-round pick in 2015.

Similar to past years, given the number of starting pitchers that put up big numbers year after year, here are two more staffs just as deserving of mention as the first teamers:

Staff 2:
Alec Hansen, RHP (White Sox)
Michael Kopech*, RHP (White Sox)
Tyler Mahle, RHP (Reds)
Triston McKenzie*, RHP (Indians)
Brent Honeywell, RHP (Rays)

Staff 3:
Forrest Whitley, RHP (Astros)
Joey Wentz, LHP (Braves)
Kolby Allard*, LHP (Braves)
Mitch Keller, RHP (Pirates)
Walker Buehler, RHP (Dodgers)

Jimmy Herget, RHP (Reds)
A talented starter at South Florida prior to being drafted by the Reds in the sixth round of the 2015 draft, Herget’s lower arm slot maks him a better fit coming out of the ‘pen. And so far, so good for the young hurler as he makes the First Team this year after being mentioned in last year’s edition, recording 25 saves in 52 relief appearances, striking out 72 in 62 innings of work in the upper levels of the Reds minor league system. Look for Herget to come out of the Reds big league bullpen at some point in 2018.

You could easily round out the bullpen with a trio of hard-throwing righties in John Curtiss (Twins), Dillon Maples (Cubs) and Jimmie Sherfy (Diamondbacks), as well as a pair of lefties in Richard Lovelady (Royals) and Colin Poche (Diamondbacks) to make things even more difficult for opposing teams late in games. That quintet combined to record a 1.91 ERA with 65 saves in 2017, striking out 387 in 278 2/3 collective innings.

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