AL West continues trend of strong arms on farm
Each team represented in division's all-prospect rotation
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com | 02/11/12 11:00 AM EST
Who are the best prospects in each organization? Which Minor Leaguers should you get the most excited about seeing on your favorite team? Now it's just a click away, with the rankings of the Top 20 prospects for each organization being unveiled on Prospect Watch this week.
The final entry is the American League West. Let's go one step further. Within the Top 20s in each division, who are the best prospects? MLB.com spoke to general managers from outside each division to get their thoughts on who the top future stars are within that division. Today, it's time to discuss the AL West all-prospect team.
Danny Hultzen (No. 16 on Top 100; Mariners' No. 2)
Taijuan Walker (No. 18 on Top 100; Mariners' No. 3)
Jarrod Parker (No. 26 on Top 100; A's No. 1)
Martin Perez (No. 29 on Top 100; Rangers' No. 2)
Garrett Richards (No. 67 on Top 100; Angels' No. 3)
Throughout this exercise, the pitching has stood out, and it's no different in the AL West. Each team is represented, with the newly acquired Parker giving the A's a representative in the rotation.
"We love Taijuan Walker," the general manager interviewed for this story said. "We would probably take him at the top of the list of all those guys."
There was some talk about the No. 5 spot in the rotation with other new A's like A.J. Cole and Brad Peacock being mentioned, as well as Mariners lefty James Paxton. (It should be noted that the Rangers' Yu Darvish is not considered a prospect for these purposes.)
Tanner Scheppers (Rangers' No. 10)
There could be some options in terms of starters who could be turned into relievers down the road who might rank higher, but Scheppers has already made the transition. If he can stay healthy, he can take his 9.7 strikeouts-per-nine-innings stuff and be extremely effective in short relief.
1B: C.J. Cron (Angels' No. 4)
Unless you're still a believer in the potential of the A's Chris Carter, Cron was the clear choice. Assuming health -- he had knee surgery during the offseason and had a shoulder issue coming out of college -- the 2011 first-round pick is an advanced bat that shouldn't take too long to further clog the first-base position for the Angels.
2B: Jean Segura (No. 55 on Top 100; Angels' No. 2)
There was no real second-base choice in the division, so it came down to picking a shortstop who could move over to second. The choice came between the Mariners' Nick Franklin, who many see as a future second baseman, and Segura, who has played second previously but is moving over to shortstop now because of his plus arm.
"There is some risk there [because of injury]," the GM said. "But when he does play, we like Segura a tick above Franklin."
SS: Jurickson Profar (No. 7 on Top 100; Rangers' No. 1)
While Franklin and Segura are both on the Top 10 shortstops list, there was no question at all that Profar, No. 2 on that positional ranking, was the slam-dunk selection here. His combination of tools, maturity and instincts makes him one of the more interesting prospects in baseball.
3B: Mike Olt (No. 43 on Top 100; Rangers' No. 3)
Especially after his Arizona Fall League season, in which he nearly broke the home run and RBI records, Olt was another no-brainer. Assuming he continues to improve his approach at the plate, the power and run production numbers will continue to accrue.
C: Jesus Montero (No. 12 on Top 100; Mariners' No. 1)
He's definitively the top prospect listed at this position, but the debate continues over whether he can actually stay behind the plate. Several teams think he'll be passable in a Javy Lopez/Mike Piazza way. The GM wasn't necessarily one of those people, though, and he's not alone. He'd likely take the A's Derek Norris if Montero wasn't a catcher.
Mike Trout (No. 3 on Top 100; Angels' No. 1)
Michael Choice (No. 59 on Top 100; A's No. 2)
Leonys Martin (No. 89 on Top 100; Rangers' No. 4)
After Trout, there's a big drop-off in talent here, which the GM felt was unexpected. Choice belongs, though, with his legitimate power potential. Martin wasn't as clear a pick, but sifting through the other possibilities, he made more sense than anyone else, with perhaps the A's Grant Green being the only other viable candidate.
"We don't love Martin, but there aren't a ton of choices there," the GM said. "I'm surprised there aren't more options to choose from."
Once again, the stars, and depth, are on the mound. It goes more than five deep, providing as deep a staff as any division. There are a couple of impact bats, and offseason trades has changed the landscape quite a bit.
"There are a lot of new guys in the division," the GM said. "The starting pitching stands out. Profar and Trout of the position guys stand above the rest. The other outfielders aren't an impressive collection."