Major League Baseball teams are similar to roller coasters, one moment you can experience the highest of highs, and the next you can experience the lowest of lows. This cycle is more than common to happen. In a few years, current top tier-teams will be trending downwards and will enter the “rebuilding” phase. While, current teams in the “rebuilding” phase, could experience big success in the near future.
Here are five teams that headline the future of baseball and could end up with a World Series in hand:
Tampa Bay Rays – The Tampa Bay Rays may have pulled off the most imbalanced trade in Major League Baseball history with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Rays shipped off a down-trending Chris Archer and in return received franchise pieces Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows and Shane Baz. Glasnow and Baz add to an elite pitching staff while Meadows’ bat includes him in a strong lineup.
Besides Glasnow and Baz, the Rays have a plethora of impact arms. Former Cy Young Blake Snell and Charlie Morton round out the top starting pitching arms. Highly rated pitching prospects include the two-way Brendan McKay and the lights-out Brent Honeywell. Tampa Bay often utilizes the “opener” to start off games. Ryan Yarbrough and Yonny Chirinos are most commonly used in this role. In the back end of the innings, manager Kevin Cash often calls upon right hander Diego Castillo and Colin Poche to slam the door.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Rays have talent up and down their lineup. Potentially headlined by the number one overall prospect Wander Franco, the Rays could be opposing teams kryptonite. The explosive Ji-Man Choi and Brandon Lowe take up first and second base while on the other side of the diamond, Yandy Diaz takes third and Wander Franco grabs shortstop. This elite infield can do damage in baseball for a long time to come. In the outfield, the Rays have a team of gold glover in Kevin Kiermaier, Austin Meadows and Hunter Renfroe. Don’t count that trio out.
When all the pieces come together, the Rays will be a serious contender in the American League. Teams should take note of the generational talent in Wander Franco. When right, the Tampa Bay pitching staff can be elite.
Chicago White Sox – The White Sox haven’t made the playoffs since 2008, but with the highly regarded talent headed to the South Side of Chicago, the White Sox could make an impact in the sooner rather than later. The loaded farm system currently ranks atop of all lists with standout names including pitching prospects Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease. Kopech’s electric fastball paired with Cease’s strong consistency could be the next great 1-2 punch in Chicago.
On the offensive side of the ball, the White Sox should have smooth sailing in the future years. Former top-5 pick Nick Madrigal and the flashy Tim Anderson will be an up-the-middle duo like no other. The highly regarded Yoan Moncada could very well make a splash at third base. Uprising outfielders in Luis Robert and Blake Rutherford could be franchise players in the corners of the outfield. Behind the plate, the recent signing of Yasmani Grandal solidifies a forceful veteran bat to the Chicago lineup.
The combination of elite prospects mixed with experienced veterans makes the Chicago White Sox a threat to the American League for years to come. If all pans out, the South Side of Chicago could have an MVP in Yoan Moncada and a Cy Young in Michael Kopech, on the same roster.
Toronto Blue Jays – Headlined by the trio of Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio, the Blue Jays are going to be a threat in the American League for a long time. Bichette and Vlad Jr. are cornerstone franchise pieces on the left side of the infield while the young Jordan Groshans and Cavan Biggio will take the right side of the diamond.
The Blue Jays have strong foundational players in the outfield as well. The recently drafted Austin Martin, who was arguably the best overall player in the draft, will undoubtedly be a franchise player for the Jays. Other future trustworthy gloves in the outfield include Lourdes Guirrel Jr. and power catalyst Griffin Conine.
Although the Blue Jays do not have the strongest selection of arms in the bullpen, the light tower potential in the rotation is visible. Top prospect Nate Pearson and Anthony Kay will most likely round out the 1-2 combination in the opening innings. Prospects Alek Manoah and Trent Thorton could also be in the starting pitching mix.
All in all, the team north of the border has sky-high potential in arms and at the plate. The Blue Jays will cause some trouble in the American League and hopefully come out with some hardware in upcoming years.
San Diego Padres – With one of the top farm systems in baseball, the San Diego Padres are set up with elite talent in the coming years. Headlined by All-Star Manny Machado and the rising sensation Fernando Tatis Jr., the talent is endless. Top ranked prospects Taylor Trammell and CJ Abrams are soon to make an impact on a big league roster. The power bat of Eric Hosmer adds a veteran player into the lineup. Tommy Pham, Wil Myers and Trent Grisham round out a strong outfield for San Diego.
San Diego’s pitching staff improves by the year. The best talent is still yet to come with 4th ranked overall prospect MacKenzie Gore and left-hander Luis Patino. Gore and Patino foreshadows San Diego perfectly with franchise arms. The young Chris Paddack rounds out the rotation along with Zach Davies.
The talent in the pitching staff takes a step upwards regarding talented arms in the back end of games. Top ranked closer Kirby Yates leads the way along with set up man Emilio Pagan. The list doesn’t end there as impactful arms include veteran Drew Pomeranz and Craig Stammen. The thunderous Matt Strahm often gets called upon in tough situations.
Manager Andy Green and co. are set up to near perfection in the future. Highly ranked prospects mixed with proven veterans makes San Diego a team to watch for a long time to come.
Atlanta Braves – The Atlanta Braves have arguably the best player in baseball with the electric Ronald Acuña Jr. The perennial MVP paired with young stars such as shortstop Dansby Swanson, second baseman Ozzie Albies and the jaw-dropping outfield prospect in Christian Pache will do damage in the National League. Some scouts claim that Pache is the best defensive outfield prospect in all of baseball. Pair him up with Acuña and gold glove Ender Incierate, and you could have the best outfield in baseball.
Brother of All-Star Willson Contreras, William Contreras could easily surpass his older brother. The phenomenal catching prospect is putting up astronomical numbers in Single-A and High-A. Many estimate his arrival to be in 2021 or even early 2022. Some say he has the talent to be a top of the order hitter and even a gold glover behind the plate.
On the rubber, the Braves are loaded with pitching prospects. The Rookie of the Year runner-up, Mike Soroka headlines a dominant staff including Mike Foltynewicz, Max Fried, Sean Newcomb along with prospects Touki Toussaint and Kyle Wright. The depth in the Atlanta pitching staff is like no other and will be a scary sight for opposing teams.
The mixture of current and future talent blends perfectly to formulate an undoubted top tier team in baseball. Atlanta is equipped with the one of the best lineups and pitching staff in the game. Surely, they will make a deep playoff run sooner rather than later.
Honorable Mentions: Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals
Photo: Tampa Bay Times