With that in mind, here’s the squad.
Rutschman, the No. 1 pick in last June’s draft, is the best catching prospect in the minors. He has a chance to graduate with four plus or better tools — meaning, in layman terms, he could become a middle-of-the-order hitter and an asset behind the plate who frames and throws well. Add in how Rutschman is polished enough to reach the majors in 2021, and we feel good about his chances.
- Adley Rutschman, Baltimore Orioles
With less than a month remaining before everyone’s calendar flips to 2020, we’ve spent the week reliving and reviewing the decade that was. Today, we’re doing something a little different: projecting what will happen over the next 10 years by assembling an All-Decade team for the 2020s.
- Pete Alonso, New York Mets
We mentioned how Trout is younger than his achievements may suggest he is. Ditto for Bellinger, the reigning NL MVP who won’t turn 25 until next July. Through 450 career games, he has a 144 OPS+. How good is that? Barry Bonds had a 133 OPS+ through his age-25 season. Factor in Bellinger’s athleticism, versatility, and ability to make adjustments and we think he’s going to remain good. (Sorry, Jasson Dominguez and fans.)
- Gavin Lux, Los Angeles Dodgers
One of Trout’s future teammates, Adell has the physical traits required to become an impact-level player. He’s not too far off from debuting in the majors, either, and would likely be known as the top prospect in the game were it not for Franco. (You can sub in Ronald Acuna Jr. or whomever else you prefer here without any argument on our end.)
- Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres
For as much as Nick Madrigal and Ozzie Albies intrigue us, we’re giving the nod to Lux, who will enter 2020 as one of the favorites to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award. Lux hit .347/.421/.607 with 26 home runs in the minors last season. Even if those numbers were inflated by the altered baseball and some favorable hitting environments, he looks like he should be a quality player for a long time.
- Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays
Franco is the best prospect in baseball. If all goes well, he’ll be a middle-of-the-order hitter who can also remain at shortstop. That’s a dang good player — perhaps the best in baseball at his peak. He’ll turn 19 in March. He’s, at once, somehow among the safer and more volatile members of the team.
- Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
Again, we’re cheating a bit by limiting our team to three relievers, but c’mon. Mize has the potential to be a No. 2 starter — we’re listing him here due to his injury concerns and we’re hoping that he remains in the rotation; Garcia is small and will probably end up in relief as a result; Puk’s fastball-slider combination could make him lethal out of the bullpen if he’s returned there down the road.
- Jo Adell, Los Angeles Angels
We’re cheating a little by going with just four starters instead of five, but lord knows there are an endless amount of viable candidates for the pitching staffs. To run through our choices here: Buehler is athletic and has big-time stuff as well as ample early career success; Soroka doesn’t rack up strikeouts like many of his contemporaries, and he’s had some injury woes, but if he stays healthy he’s going to remain good; Gore and Manning are prospects we’re high on — both should debut in the majors sometime over the next 12 to 18 months.
- Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers
You can’t make one of these lists without including Trout. For all he’s accomplished — and he’s on pace to be the most productive player in the sport’s history — he won’t turn 29 until next August. He’s been worth at least six wins in every full season of his career; even if he declines a bit each year over the next 10 years, he’s going to end up with a fruitful decade.
- Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays
Before getting to the team, let’s go over some ground rules. Most importantly, this is primarily an entertainment exercise. It’s hard to predict what will happen in baseball over a single year, let alone 10. As such, you’re going to see some familiar names here. You’re also going to see some surprises, because that’s just how baseball works.
- Walker Buehler, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Mike Soroka, Atlanta Braves
- MacKenzie Gore, San Diego Padres
- Matt Manning, Detroit Tigers
It says a lot about Guerrero that he finished his age-20 season with a 106 OPS+ and nobody was satisfied. So, he wasn’t one of the game’s best hitters out of the gate as expected. But we’re not going to give up on him just yet. We do think he’ll end up moving off third base over the next three to five years. More importantly, we think he’s going to hit, hit, then hit some more.
- Casey Mize, Detroit Tigers
- Deivi Garcia, New York Yankees
- A.J. Puk, Oakland Athletics
Tatis already looked like one of the best players in baseball when he was healthy last season. The only catches were … well, his health, and also his defense at shortstop. We’re not insulting him by projecting a move to third base sometime over the next decade — rather, we’re projecting this as part of other infield shuffling by the Padres that includes Manny Machado sliding to first base and CJ Abrams taking over at short. (OK, and we just wanted to include Tatis because he’s one of the game’s most exciting talents.)