In baseball, landing a coveted free agent is all and good for the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and other high-dollar teams.
But, to feel truly blessed as a general manager, developing an elite all-star player feels much better.
Bryce Harper went to the Washington Nationals with all the glitz and glamour of a seasoned veteran. So far, he’s played out perfectly for the team, developing into a five-tool player.
Mike Trout didn’t get the money Josh Hamilton or Albert Pujols did when he joined the Los Angeles Angels. Instead, he rose quickly through the minor league system to become an MVP runner-up.
So, who could be the next great prospect to prosper on the diamond? Let’s take a look at a few options.
Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
The only thing keeping Taveras from the majors is the crowded outfield the Cardinals currently have.
Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran occupy two slots and are still strong players. However, an injury to either could get Taveras a call up.
Also, the Cards like to save money when they can, and Beltran’s age is creeping closer to 40 than 30, so next year could definitely be the year for “Oscar the Great.”
Gerrit Cole, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Again this year, the Pirates are off to a good start, but the best could be yet to come.
Cole is an elite pitching prospect, and Pittsburgh also has Jameson Tallion in the minors awaiting a call up.
Cole, though, is the future ace and leader of the staff. The more time he has in the minors will allow him to correct a few minor flaws that are coming up.
Taijuan Walker, SP, Seattle Mariners
Could you imagine a pitching rotation with two Felix Hernandez-like starters at the top?
Well, the M’s might have that in Walker, as the rising star is averaging over a strikeout per inning in the minors right now.
Add in Danny Hultzen, and Seattle has the makings of an Atlanta Braves rotation from years past going forward.
Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
It’s nice to be a surprising team early in the year as the Indians have been.
However, the depth the minor league system offers for Terry Francona to think about could have played a major role in his decision to return to the bench.
Take Lindor for instance, as the 19-year-old looks to be built in a ready-for-Sunday role. He has speed, an excellent glove at shortstop, and could easily develop mid-tier power.