The name of this team comes from the official name of the transaction: to select a player's contract, i.e. add them to the 40-man roster. Teams do a lot of selecting in late November because of the Rule 5 Draft, which I explained thusly last year:
there are a couple of important stipulations: 1) Any player taken in the Rule 5 Draft has to remain on his new team's active (i.e. 25-man) roster for the entirety of the upcoming season or risk being returned to his original team. 2) Only players NOT on a team's expanded (i.e. 40-man) roster are eligible to be drafted in the proceedings. It's this second stipulation that led to more than 100 players being added to their team's respective 40-man rosters prior to last week's November 20 deadline to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft.In point of fact, this year (called the 2015 offseason, because it affects 2015 season) there were 104 players called up (i.e. had their contracts selected) since the conclusion of the 2014 World Series, most occurring on or around November 20, 2014. Coincidence? The truth is out there! Keep watching the skiis!
But first, watch this full lineup projection of the most impressive minor league players from this year's All-Selected pool.
Granted, viewing players in this light is a bit one-sided, prospect-wise, since a lot of the monster numbers come from the lower levels of the minors, and it's generally the more seasoned players who immediately make an impact on their teams' rosters. For example, the pack leader in terms of minor league swp - Washington middle infielder Wilmer Difo - put up his video game numbers (14 HR, 49 SB, .315 AVG) in Class A South Atlantic League at age 22. Let's just say it will be a while before Ian Desmond has to worry about his job. Not far behind Difo in points per game (but two years behind him in age and two levels his senior in minor league progression) Jose Peraza has the makings of a prototypical contact-and-speed leadoff hitter (.339 AVG, 60 SB, only 2 HR) and his presence at the top of the Braves farm makes a 2017 rebuild not seem so bad.
Joc Pederson is the Dodgers outfielder that everyone is talking about, but the organization's #15 prospect Scott Schebler has steadily dominated advanced A and AA in two consecutive seasons, showing tremendous skill with the bat and fine athleticism (each season featured an OPS over .900 and double digits in each type of extra base hit plus stolen bases). The runner-up in total min swp, Brandon Drury showed good traditional power (23 HR, 42 2B) and could give fellow rookie Jake Lamb (who Drury trailed by just one place on the organizational prospect list going into 2014) a run for his money for the Diamondbacks' third base job. The All-Selected team's leader in home runs (Renato Nunez with 29) has shown some promise, but third base and DH are two spots the Oakland Athletics have pretty well covered with fan favorite Josh Donaldson and newly signed country breakfast enthusiast Billy Butler.
The only member of the All-Selected team to make an appearance on MLB.com's top 100 prospects list going into 2014 was Marlins lefty starter Justin Nicolino, and when the hype corresponds to the production, there's a better chance for major league talent to emerge. Interestingly enough, of the 13 other 2014 top 100 prospects among all 104 players called up this offseason, Nicolino's 81 was the lowest. Of the three players in the top 20 - Twins infielder Miguel Sano (4), Mets starter Noah Syndergaard (11), and Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon (16), only Syndie managed to get on the field in 2014 due to injuries (I'm unofficially shortening that now in the event he becomes a star. I'm also considering Syndo or the Syndicate). Going back to the stats, keep in mind that the only one of the top five starting pitchers on this list made it as high as AAA, and that's unranked Tyler Wilson of the Orioles. The most advanced newly-selected pitchers that I could see having the best opportunity to thrive in 2015 are Alex Meyer, who pitched decently in AAA for the Twins, A.J. Cole, who could get a spot in Washington's rotation if they trade a big name pitcher as is kind of expected, and Eduardo Rodriguez, who hasn't pitched above AA, but Boston may have spent all its resources on its offense, and they didn't acquire Rodriguez from the Orioles for nothing (except they kind of did acquire him in exchange for nothing, giving up only a half season before free agency - same with Yoenis Cespedes... what I mean is they didn't acquire him for the PURPOSE of nothing).
The moral of the story is, I don't know which of these players are going to make the most impact in the major leagues next season or even many seasons from now. More than half of the players called up (58) appeared on their team's top 20 prospect list prior to 2014, so most of these are names that people are aware of. Perhaps if we look back to a similar type of lineup, taking players from the 2014 All-Selected pool but using their actual 2014 MLB production, it will tell us what we might expect.
This team actually had standouts at most positions. First the rotation: Arguably no rookie had more impressive 2014 production than NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom, who got all the first place votes except for the 4 that went to Billy Hamilton. Jesse Hahn seems to have flashed ace potential in San Diego at times (he was averaging 79 points per game at the All-Star Break). And both Tyler Matzek and Shane Greene have developed into solid workhorses. Aaron Barrett spent the majority of the year in Washington's bullpen, Pedro Baez was asked to shoulder some high-leverage innings for the Dodgers, and San Francisco's world championship run would have looked very different without Hunter Strickland's nasty fastball/slider combo.
Not to imply that deGrom had any competition for his RoY hardware, but Arizona leadoff hitter Ender "Wiggin" Inciarte has to at least be in the conversation. He should also be in the following conversation: where will he play in the outfield given the addition of the Cuban sensation Yasmany Tomas and the presence of Mark Trumbo and A.J. Pollock. Gregory Polanco has looked like he could be a star in Pittsburgh. The story of Kennys Vargas reminds me a little of a young, switch-hitting David Ortiz, which is kind of scary. Arismendy Alcantara will still be eligible at 2B next year, which fantasy owners should know, because he'll likely play more center field with all the former A's prospects clogging up the Cubs' infield picture. Speaking of infield, Detroit's Eugenio Suarez was one half of a starting shortstop for a playoff team.
These are some of the dynamic new players we enjoyed last year. Will this year's crop be at all similar? Find out in: the 2015 Baseball Season!