MLB

Rest in Peace Jose Fernandez

Honestly, yesterday sucked so bad on so many levels for everyone in the sports world. As we mourn the loss of Marlins ace José Fernandez, who was tragically killed in a boating accident Sunday morning Fernandez was just 24 years old. 

I have no words to explain how much my heart breaks knowing we won’t get to see him on the mound again. It goes without saying that he was one of the best pitchers in the game he had a career record of 38-17 with 2.58 ERA and a two time all-star putting his stamp on the game of baseball quickly, unfortunately he won’t be able to add to these incredible numbers.

I tuned  into almost every one of his starts because it was a no hitter waiting to happen, but also because of his incredible attitude and an infectious smile he brought to every day he lived. It just made me feel better every time I saw him on TV in the dugout or on the mound. He was a guy that was living the American dream he defected from Cuba was successful in his fifth attempt at the age of 15 showing perseverance and bravery from the very beginning.

He lived every day to the fullest and never took anything for granted and just positively influenced every life that he came across in person or through baseball and the millions of fans that were able to watch him pitch will never forget what a treat it was to watch number 16 take the mound.

Every death has an impact, but this is felt across the world, baseball, and Cuba there will be a lifelong void that will never be filled with the passing of Fernandez. He just meant so much to so many people, especially the Marlins community as many of are Cuban and had an idol to look up to and a centerpiece to the Marlins organization and he will never be replaced.

The only thing we learn from this tragic situation is life makes no sense and I wish we could turn back time to prevent this unthinkable tragedy. My condolences to his family, friends and Marlins teammate’s! Rest in peace José Fernandez God got their Ace just a Way too soon!

 

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MLB, Top 10 List

Top Ten Starting Pitchers Right Now

Starting pitching is like gold in baseball can’t ever have enough of it. It’s the most important aspect of a team because while the goal is to score more runs than the opponent run prevention is just as key so your offense has a chance to put runs on the board. Today major league baseball has a ton of quality starting pitcher’s littered from coast-to-coast.

Pitchers that hitters may ask out of the lineup because they have a slight soreness or “cold” when in reality they just don’t want to have to face the nasty stuff of that night’s starter. In 2016 baseballs ace pitchers have stepped up to another level. Who knows where some of these teams would be if they didn’t have the ace stopper on the team. There are many great choices, but here are my top 10 starting pitchers right now!

  1. Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw is not only the best pitcher currently in the game, but he has become a once in a generation type player that will be talked about for decades. Kershaw is already in the Hall of Fame discussion just eight years into his illustrious career. He has put unthinkable numbers making baseball look way too easy.

He has a career record of 125-57 with a microscopic 2.37 ERA, numbers that will be hard to duplicate on a videogame. Absolutely incredible he is a magician on the mound continuously making his opponents look silly start after start. It’s hard to believe that Kershaw a five-time All-Star, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, and an NL MVP can improve but that’s the case for Kershaw in 2016.

The season he has taken his game to another level he has had 11-1 record with 1.82 ERA! To put this historic season in perspective here some numbers he has walked just eight batters the entire season. Additionally, he has six starts with 10+ strikeouts and no walks. The Dodgers would be sunk this season and many others without the dominance of Kershaw the team is 14-2 with him on the mound.

Unfortunately, Kershaw has been sidelined with a herniated disc in his back since June 30 and it’s unknown if he will return in 2016. Which is a massive blow to the Dodgers playoff hopes, however the team has stayed afloat with an 18-10 record and currently hold the top wild card spot.

That being said I don’t see the Dodgers going very far in October even if they land a top-flight starter in the next 17 hours because Kershaw is on another planet from every other starter and is irreplaceable. Additionally, their starters just keep dropping like flies and I don’t think they have the depth and trust in their healthy pitchers. We’ll see what happens, I just don’t see the Dodgers making it very far without the best pitcher in baseball.

 

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2.    Madison Bumgarner

The San Francisco Giants are one of the most consistent teams in baseball in World Series contention year after year. A big reason why is the staff ace Madison Bumgarner since making his debut in 2009, he is a three-time World Series champion and has become one of the most reliable starters in the big league right now. In just seven seasons Bumgarner has become one of the best lefties to ever take the mound in the big leagues. He is 95-64 with 2.93 ERA. Those numbers prove he’s an amazing pitcher and is constantly baffling hitters.

However, the moment the baseball world really appreciated and understood how good Bumgarner is was the 2014 World Series when he put his team on his back and single-handedly won the championship. He a rubber armed bulldog on the mound pitching a record 52 2/3 innings posting a ridiculous 0.25 silencing the Kansas City Royals to win the teams third World Series in the last six years. This performance supplanted Bumgarner’s legacy no matter what the rest of his career holds.

He’s continued great success in 2016 with a 10-6 with a microscopic ERA of 2.25 ERA, which he continues to improve year after year. The mark of a legendary hurler is they are never satisfied with themselves and look to improve in every aspect of their game and that is Madison Bumgarner in a nutshell is a big reason I put him at number two on this list.

 

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3. Stephen Strasburg

The perceived Savior of the Washington Nationals has finally become what everyone expected him to be coming out of San Diego State in 2010. It made be a slight shock to people that he ranks this high because of his injury history. However, the reality is he’s having a breakout season and should be recognized for his historic work in 2016 and overall he’s been pretty darn good throughout his career.

A big reason for Strasburg’s success in 2016 I believe is the new leadership in the Nationals dugout. Manager Dusty Baker has brought a calming influence to everybody, including Strasburg telling him to smile more and enjoy going to the mound every fifth day. I think he’s taken that to heart he has a 15-1 record with a 2.63 ERA thus far in 2016.

It’s amazing, especially in baseball considering you might not have your A+ stuff every time you go out on the mound. Despite that Strasburg has given his team a chance to win every time out. Strasburg is proving the Nationals right and giving him the seven-year contract extension as he is finally reaching the potential everybody expected. I think he is finally trusting that he is fully healthy and can just focus on pitching without the fear of something flaring up.

His confidence is at all time high 2016 could be the start of something very special for Strasburg and the Washington Nationals. Strasburg looks to have figured it out and that is not a good thing for the rest of baseball.

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4.   Chris Sale

Chris Sale drafted 13th overall pick in the 2010 draft out of Florida Gulf Coast University. In his six years he has quickly become one of the most dominant left-handed pitchers in baseball. He is an astounding 71-43 with 2.95 ERA. What he has been able to do is absolutely amazing because the majority of his work has been done against the American League with the DH.

Additionally, he pitches in a bandbox of a home ballpark at US cellular Field making these numbers even more remarkable. He has continued his dominance in 2016 posting a 14-5 record with a 3.12 ERA witch makes him the leading candidate for the American League’s sister CY Young award despite the teams’ struggles.

The White Sox might have to sell this deadline, but Sale better stay put because he is a franchise player and they need someone to build around dominant lefties like him don’t grow on trees. As a baseball fan, I hope the White Sox will be able to contend soon so I can watch Sale in a position that he deserves because he is too talented not to experience postseason play.

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5  José Fernandez

Major league baseball has seen an influx of young flamethrowers that have made the game very exciting to watch. The Miami Marlins have one of those in 23-year-old José Fernandez. In his three years he has shown us what an ace looks like, but also how to have fun while doing your job. It’s refreshing to see a young guy have success and tip his cap when he gets beat.

He is getting the last laugh the majority of the time. He is 34-14 with a 2.52 ERA with a remarkable 25-2 record at Marlins Park. It’s crazy that Fernandez has just three years of experience he  looks like a grizzled veteran. If he’s able to stay healthy many records will get broken by Fernandez while on the mound.

The great success has continued in 2016 he is 12-6 with 2.87 ERA making it a very long day for opponents in the batters box. He is a strikeout machine recording over 500 strikeouts in just a little over 400 innings. I know strikeouts are just another out and don’t matter in the game of baseball anymore to hitters, but it’s insane the pace that Fernandez is on. He is also the first pitcher to record multiple 14 strikeout games. Putting that in perspective that is 4 1/2 innings without contact and no contact means no runs, giving Fernandez and the team an amazing chance to win every time he toes the mound.

The Marlins are very lucky to have found him, but they better take advantage of this playoff situation that they currently find themselves in because I honestly doubt Fernandez will be a Marlin for life because he is a client of Scott Boras and that usually means testing the free-agent market.

That being said, the Marlins need to do everything they can to reach the playoffs while they have this horse on their staff because it might not last. Fernandez is an incredible pitcher and starting pitching is like gold and every team would welcome a pitcher of his caliber. I’m saying the marlins better not waste this chance and talent. Fernandez has brought new energy to the pitcher’s mound and he is fun to watch.

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6. Jake Arrieta

The Chicago Cubs are relevant again because of their young studs and their staff ace Jake Arrieta. The journey to the top Arrieta was a roller coaster ride. Prior to finding the magic in the Windy City he pitched for the Baltimore Orioles, whom he struggled to find consistency because they tried to change his mechanics and take away his cutter, which made his performance mediocre.

This resulted in a trade to the Cubs where Arrieta found his footing becoming an NL CY Young award winner and the leader of the staff as they try to break the curse that is Chicago Cubs baseball. Last year’s second half was historic as he posted 0.82 ERA and was compared to greats like Bob Gibson and Greg Maddux. He ended 2015 with 22-6, record with an untouchable 1.77 ERA a feat that is hard to accomplish in video games let alone real life with the best baseball players in the world.

He’s backed it up quite nicely in 2016 with a 12-5 record with a 2.75 and a no hitter thrown in. He is a little farther down than he would’ve been except he’s struggled a little bit in the second half with consistency and sometimes throwing too many strikes and some opponents have taken advantage.

However, I think he and the team have righted the ship and are best equipped for a long postseason run in October so long as they stay healthy. Arrieta is a story of perseverance and a lesson for teams if a guy has talent don’t try to change them, let them show you what got them to that position in the first place. Be patient you might be able to mold Cy Young winner and a perennial All-Star.

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7. Johnny Cueto

Once again the San Francisco Giants struck gold with the off-season signing of Johnny Cueto to a six-year $130 million contract. Which to this point looks like one of the biggest steals because the Giants have formed a deadly one-two punch at the top of the rotation that has them poised to make another World Series run in an even year.

Cueto is just coming off the World Series championship with the Kansas City Royals. He was the brilliant ace they needed to put them over the top as he threw two complete games to help them secure their first World Series title since 1985. He’s carried that momentum out West posting a 13-3 record with a 2.73 ERA. Cueto is one of the most imaginative pitchers in baseball with an array of wind ups constantly keeping opponents off balance.

That is a unique quality in a pitcher because traditionally a pitcher has one set of mechanics and if they get out of wack struggles will likely happen. That is not an issue for Cueto because he changes his approach mid hitter depending on situation giving him an edge against opponents.

I believe the trade to the Royals was a great thing for Cueto to experience postseason pressure and success because I think he got in a bit of a rut with the Reds. Now with renewed confidence he has once again become one of the most reliable pitchers in baseball. Setting up the Giants for a long postseason run as they try to continue the even year magic.

 8. J.A Happ

The Toronto Blue Jays are currently in a dogfight for the AL East crown as they sit ½ a game back of the Baltimore Orioles. The Blue Jays have relied heavily on their offense to get in their current position. However, this year they’ve had a little bit more consistency in their rotation with a breakout year for left-hander J.A Happ.

Happ has finally put it all together in his second tenure with the Blue Jays posting a 14-3 record with a 3.18 ERA putting Happ him right in the middle of CY Young award conversations. An amazing feat considering his home ballpark is a launching pad and normally a pitcher’s nightmare. However, that has not been the case for Happ in 2016, he is 9-1 with 3.02 ERA, proving you can have success in hitter friendly ballparks.

It’s really great to see a journeyman type player have great success after some mediocre seasons recently for Happ. As for the organization this is one of the biggest bargains of the off-season as they signed Happ to a three-year $36 million deal. He’s gone from a great veteran presence to deepen their rotation to a prime CY Young candidate.

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9. Cole Hamels

The Texas Rangers currently sit atop the AL West by 6 games over the Houston Astros led by the forgotten ace Cole Hamels. Hamels was dealt to the Rangers at the deadline last July and hasn’t missed a beat the former world champion has put together a quiet 12-2 record with a 2.84 ERA putting him in Cy Young conversation.

Hamels has been one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball for 10 years being the ace for two different clubs and helps lead the Phillies to a championship in 2008 as I mentioned. Since putting on the Rangers uniform he is 19-3 and amazingly he hasn’t been talked about as much as he should because he is out West.

I think that’s been a great benefit for Hamels because although he is the ace he is not “the guy” as he was in the latter part of his Phillies career. Therefore he is not putting as much pressure on himself and is just pitching free and easy. Additionally he is closer to his family, which is also a benefit for any athlete.

He looks very comfortable in a Ranger uniform and the production continues to get better just like a fine wine. A great quality Hamels possesses is the fact he is an innings eater averaging 195 innings per season preserving the bullpen a manager’s dream. Showing that he’s a bulldog on the mound and will fight tooth and nail to stay in the game.

Hamels helped lead the Rangers to a playoff berth in 2015 he looks to do the same this season with a ring at the end of this year. Also he still has two years left on his contract with an option in 2019. It’s a dream situation for both the Rangers and Hamels.

 

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10.                          Chris Tillman

The Baltimore Orioles are in a dogfight for the AL East crown they currently sit half a game of the Blue Jays with the Red Sox nipping at their heels as well. They’ve used the long ball and a breakout year from  right- hander Chris Tillman. This is another guy that has come out of nowhere and become the ace of the rotation. He is 14-3 with a 3.46 ERA.

This is an incredibly impressive season, Tillman is putting together considering he is pitching in what I think is the toughest division in baseball and a bandbox of a home ballpark in Camden Yards. I think Tillman has been the MVP of the Orioles this season, I struggle to imagine what their season would look like without him in the rotation because there is been quite a bit of inconsistency and injury that they’ve had to deal with. Tillman has saved the Orioles and the rest of the rotation as collectively the other four starters have amassed just 14 wins combined.

This breakout year from Tillman is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Orioles because without him I don’t think they are anywhere near the top of the division without the breakout year from Tillman. Tillman has spent his entire 9-year career in Baltimore and has had a pretty consistent career with 70-45 record with a respectable 4.06 ERA. He is a guy that you don’t hear much about because he’s not one of the big names in baseball, but in 2016 he is forcing people to notice him.

If the Baltimore Orioles want to have success in October Tillman must continue to pitch well and they must hit home runs if that happens, they will be a contender in the postseason as they have the best setup-closer combination in baseball with Brad Bach and Zach Britton if they are able to get the lead late in the game anything can happen in postseason baseball.

 

These are my top 10 starting pitchers right now! This list is one of the reasons I love baseball you can be an ace from the beginning of your career or you can go from mediocrity to greatness with perseverance and hard work. This list has a great mixture of those stories. Do you agree?

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Atlanta Braves, MLB

Top Storylines for Each NL East Team to start the season

The MLB season is just two away an exciting time for fans and everyone involved with the game! Every team has a reason for optimism when the season starts because there is a clean slate and anything can happen because games aren’t played on paper. I thought it would be interesting to go through each division and give each team’s top story line to begin the year. I’m going to start with my team’s division the NL East.

The National League East is probably going to be a two horse race once again between the Washington Nationals and the New York Mets. To be honest it’s probably the weakest division around baseball with the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies hitting the reset button and trying to rebuild into a perennial contender once again.

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The Washington Nationals : Will they get along?

There’s no question the Washington Nationals have great talent on their roster and play on the field is not really a question its team chemistry because there are a ton of big personalities in the clubhouse and that was their undoing down the stretch of last season.

The turning point of their season is when GM Mike Rizzo decided to trade for hotheaded closer Jonathan Papellbon. It was a head-scratching move at the time because their current closer Drew Storen had an All-Star first half and the Nationals were primed to win the division. However, Papelbon said wherever he was traded he had to be the closer. I believe that threw Storen’s rhythm off and he struggled the rest of the season and it was downhill from there for the entire team.

There’s a saying in sports sometimes the best trade is the one you don’t make and I firmly believe if the Nationals wouldn’t have acquired Papelbon their season could’ve had a different ending. Chemistry and camaraderie are huge and sports and especially baseball because it’s such a long season, it’s important to have good relationships with all teammates. When Jonathan Papellbon choked Bryce Harper it was clear the chemistry wasn’t where it needed to be to make a run at the playoffs.

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This off-season it was obvious the leadership needed to change in the dugout and the Nationals hired veteran manager Dusty Baker who had been out of baseball since 2011. I think this is the perfect hire because Baker has great experience in dealing with huge personalities that included Barry Bonds. Baker understands how to handle hostility and shaken chemistry in a clubhouse. With that being said, I don’t think he will tolerate Bryce Harper dogging it at times or hostile confrontations in the dugout. He is a very smart baseball man and will put the Washington Nationals in the best position to win every game on and off the field.

Chemistry was the dagger to the Nationals playoff hopes last season, hopefully for their sake a new voice and leadership style will prevent clubhouse tension and just focus on winning baseball games. The fact is they have all the talent in the world to make a long playoff run.

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New York Mets: Matt Harvey’s Health

This year and the New York Mets look to build off of the National League Championship and the World Series loss to the Kansas City Royals. It’s no secret how they did it dominant starting pitching led by Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Zach Wheeler who is coming off Tommy John surgery.

They live and die with these young studs because their offense has been pretty inconsistent even with the addition of Yoenis Céspedes who can carry a team for a three-week stretch, but also can go ice cold for that same period of time. However, with this starting rotation you don’t really have to score a lot of runs to have a great chance to win games.

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Unfortunately, Harvey’s opening-day status is uncertain as he deals with kidney issues. Injuries are something you can’t control, but certainly can derail a career. A quality-starting pitcher like Matt Harvey doesn’t grow on trees so the Mets must be absolutely sure he is 100% healthy. The Mets have had a history of being very cautious with the young guys because young fireball pitchers are like precious jewels and must be put in the best situation for them and the organization to succeed.

For Matt Harvey he is extremely important to the Met’s success this season so if he must miss a few starts in April to get this kidney situation under control that’s much better than a longer-term injury popping up in the heat of a pennant race. Harvey the bell cow of this rotation and if he misses any significant time it will throw the other young starters out of whack because a lot of them haven’t pitched over 200 innings yet in their careers. The Mets success is predicated on the starting rotation health and especially Matt Harvey if they want to battle for a World Series title again.

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MiaMi Marlins : Can the Team Stay Healthy ?

The Miami Marlins have an opportunity to be very pesky and annoying to play throughout the 2016 season. The biggest key for them throughout the season will be the overall team health. Slugger Giancarlo Stanton and Ace José Fernandez headline that list. Stanton is one of major league baseball’s most prolific home run hitters hitting absolute moon shots. However, he’s had terrible luck with the injury bug he’s been hit in the face and the wrist that have cost him the bulk of the last two seasons.

As we’ve seen the team has suffered mightily when Stanton is absent because the fear factor is nowhere to be found for pitchers and opponents. If Stanton could stay on the field 150+ games his numbers would be absolutely ridiculous and the Marlins lineup would stay scary all season. Stanton has averaged 30 home runs in his first six seasons and was on a record pace last season with 27 home runs in just 74 games.

The Marlins lineup features Dee Gordon leading off wreaking havoc on the base paths distracting pitchers along with Christian Yelich who can be a hit machine when healthy. The reality is a Stanton can stay on the field everyone on the Marlins gets better and have more opportunities on the offenses side of the ball.

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The other player they can’t afford to miss significant time again is ace pitcher José Fernandez. His 2015 season was cut short due to Tommy John surgery, prior to the injury he was 6-1 with 2.92 ERA on his way to a very impressive season. After the injury the starting rotation suffered understandably and Stanton was injured shortly after derailing the rest of the season.

Fernandez has a bubbly personality and has fun doing his job something that irks his opponents, but he is one of the best pitchers in the league so he’s allowed to have some fun. Overall he is an astounding 22-9 with a 2.40 ERA and has yet to lose in his home ballpark at 17-0. Amazing numbers for a guy that is just 23 years of age with a lot of innings left on his arm, assuming the Marlins will be judicious with his innings and preserve him for the long-term. If they’re able to keep the core on the field the team will have a chance to make a playoff push year after year.

MLB: Atlanta Braves-Spring Training Workouts

Atlanta Braves: The Pitching Staff

The Atlanta Braves are in the middle of a massive rebuilding project that is seen 24 transactions involving 86 players since the start of the 2014 season. It’s probably going to be a very long year, but the future is very bright for this organization. As for the 2016 season the biggest question is who is going to get opponents out. There are just two days before the games count and the Braves still have so many roster questions involving the pitching staff.

The final decisions on the rotation have been made Williams Perez will be in the fourth spot and Jhoulys Chacín will be called up on April 12 once the team needs a fifth starter. A major concern in the bullpen is the fact we are only carrying one left-handed pitcher, but the reality is that there wasn’t anybody pitching well enough to add to the roster.

2016 Starting Rotation

  1. Julio Teheran
  2. Bud Norris
  3. Matt Wisler
  4. Williams Perez
  5. Jhoulys Chacín

This rotation is not one that will scare a lot of people off when looking at it on paper, but games aren’t played on paper, we will just have to see how it goes when the games really count. On a positive note, all of these guys had a strong ending to a roller coaster spring for all of them. Williams Perez struggled a little bit against the Astros, but proved that he was healthy and able to give all he’s got while on the mound. I’m not saying I’m not concerned because we went 6-20-6 in the spring and a handful of those games we blew late leads, but let’s just see what happens while we wait for the young guys in our system to develop.

The key phrase I will use while watching the season play out is trust the process and Rome wasn’t built in a day. Just remember we are way ahead of the pace last year our farm system was ranked 29th now it is rated top three in baseball some have it ranked number one overall so there is reason for optimism. This season might just be a little difficult to watch, but we all know that so it shouldn’t be a surprise. Hopefully the pitching staff and the team shock the world!

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Philadelphia Phillies: Maikel Franco

The Philadelphia Phillies are also involved in a massive rebuilding project, but they have definitely found their third baseman for a long time.23-year-old Maikel Franco has taken Major League Baseball by storm, in just 304 at-bats during his rookie season he hit 14 homers and had 50 runs batted in before his season was cut short due to a wrist injury.

This spring training, he picked up right where you left off hitting an MLB leading nine homers and driving in 23. This kid is going to be special for a long time, especially in that bandbox of a home ballpark.

The Phillies like the Braves might not have a lot to look forward to in 2016, but the Phillies get to watch this guy for an entire season and continue to watch him become a star in the big leagues.

Conclusion

The National League East might not be the powerhouse division in baseball but there certainly a lot of intriguing storylines to watch play out. It’s perceived and probably will be a two-team race between the Washington Nationals and the New York Mets

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MLB

All 25 and Under National League Team

Major league baseball has had an influx of youth come up through the ranks that have made an impact on their teams win loss record. This year’s All-Star game had young guys all over the place there were 20 players age 25 and under on each of the rosters. There were also 31 first time All-Stars at this year’s game. That just shows you that baseball is in great hands for many years to come. Here are my all 25 and under squad for the National League do you agree?

Catcher– Kyle Schwarber Chicago Cubs

MLB: Chicago Cubs-Photo Day

The Chicago Cubs continue to build on their philosophy drafting young position players and they are finally seeing results of their patience sooner and sooner. Kyle Schwarber was drafted 4th overall out of Indiana and was thought to be the best pure hitter in that draft. He is proving the experts right and proving the Cubs made a great choice in just a handful of at-bats in the majors he is hitting .410 (16 for 39) three home run and ten RBIs. At just 22 years of age he is proving that he can swing the bat.

The big question is can he be an everyday catcher at the major-league level, nobody knows the answer until he gets continued starts to see how he works with his pitchers blocking balls in the dirt. He has a great veteran in David Ross show him the ropes and help him develop. There is  no question that his bat will play in the major leagues is just a question of where he fits in defensively  trust me they will find a spot this kid is going to be good.

1st Base – Anthony Rizzo Chicago Cubs

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Anthony Rizzo is another critical piece to the Chicago Cubs success in the 25 years of age; he has become a critical leader for a roster that just keeps getting younger and younger. He is just entering the prime of his career and he is one of the best middle of the order hitters in the game right now. In 2015 he has put it all together with a .294 average with 16 home runs and 51 RBIs.

Rizzo is a rare breed of hitter these days because of the fact with two strikes, he chokes up on the bat and those around in the batters box something that definitely should happen more, but today’s hitters are stuck in their routine causing a record number of throughout Major league baseball. Rizzo has only struck out 50 times this season and walked 48 an amazing accomplishment considering the mindset of many saying that a strikeout is just an out. He is very impressive in every aspect of his game and the Cubs are in good hands for many years to come at first base.

2nd base Joe Panik San Francisco Giants

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Joe Panik at just 24 years of age has already become one of the most underrated players in baseball. Panik was drafted 29th overall in the 2011 draft and I can think of a few teams that would like to redo that, it just 161 games in the majors he has a career .310 batting average, 15 homers and 84 RBIs. He was an integral part of their world championship in 2014 hitting .273 one home run and eight RBIs driven in during their postseason run. He has also helped solidify the middle of the diamond with shortstop Brandon Crawford turning double play after double play a pitcher’s best friend.

As I said,  Panik and Brandon Crawford are a great double-play tandem Panik, has only committed 10 errors at second base that is definitely someone a pitcher can trust. So not only has he put up solid offensive numbers he can flash the leather. To say the least second base is taken care of for many years in San Francisco and he will become more known nationally as he continues to develop.

Shortstop– Starlin Castro Chicago Cubs

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Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro is in his age 25 season this year notwithstanding, as he is just hitting, 241 with five home runs and 39 runs batted in. In his five-year career he is a three-time All-Star with a career average of .280 with 333 runs batted in is pretty darn good. Although he has had some mental lapses throughout his career that I put him in the doghouse, but he is one of the better players at shortstop in the majors since coming in and he is still developing.

The Cubs have suffered through countless losing seasons but it is starting to pay off with their high draft picks and patience. Starlin Castro is just another of those young position players that have helped the Cubs get to where they are today. They are just beginning to see the results of their rebuild. As a baseball fan it is great to see because the overall game is better when teams like the Cubs Pirates and Astros are relevant.

3rd Base-Nolan Arenado Colorado  Rockies

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Once again, I could’ve gone with Kris Bryant the Chicago Cubs third baseman that leads rookies in RBIs, but I am going to go with a lesser known and under appreciated player in Nolan Arenado. Arenado is just 24 years of age and he plays like a grizzly old veteran on both sides of the ball,not just because his home ballpark is in Colorado. He is hitting .287 with 24 home runs and 72 RBIs this is definitely his coming out party showing people he is pretty good at baseball. There however is a reputation hitters get when they playing Colorado because it is such a good place to hit Arenado   is a good hitter, though matter where it is, on the road he is hitting .272 with 15 of his 24 home runs and 33 of his 72 RBIs. So as you can see it does not matter where he is hitting he’s just a good baseball player.

The crazy thing is you could argue that he is a better defensive player making a highlight reel on a nightly basis. He has made 10 errors which may be a little high for him at this point in the season, but it is a good number for a third baseman and with the number of runs he has saved for his pitchers. He made his first All-Star  appearance this year I have feeling he will be a regular participant in the years to come. The hot corner is solidified for the Rockies for years to come!

Left Field-Bryce Harper Washington Nationals

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Bryce Harper is the player that you love to have on your own team, but opponents can’t stand him! He might have a swagger that annoys opponents, but he is one heck of a baseball player! This year he is breaking out to the superstar everyone expected! He is just 22 years of age and he is one of the most feared hitters in baseball. He has battled injuries to start his career because of what some have termed too much hustle, but this year he has put all together.

He is hitting .331 with 27 home runs and 64 runs batted in there is no question NL MVP at this point in the season. He might rub fans and opponents the wrong way, but he is fun to watch play baseball, I just wish as a Braves fan he was in a different division. Defensively he has a knack for breaking hitters hearts as well, making highlight reel plays. He has made just eight errors in his time in left field. He can do it all the Washington Nationals definitely struck gold with this draft pick. He is going to be a thorn in opposing sides for many years to come.

Center Fielder- Joc Peterson Los Angeles Dodgers

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Joc Peterson was in an 11th round draft pick in 2010 by the Dodgers. This off-season the Dodgers traded away Matt Kemp and his huge contract to open up a spot for this highly touted prospect. It’s been a pretty good year for Peterson he made the All-Star team and was runner-up to the Cincinnati Reds third  baseman Todd Frazier in the Home run Derby. At the plate in regular-season games he does one of three things he either hits a home run strikes out or walks  the stats show that.

He has 20 home runs, 40 RBIs and 59 walks this is all out of the lead-off spot so that’s pretty good, but like many of the young players he needs to make more contact so he can become more of a complete player and show off his abilities on the base paths. He was a 30-30 man in the minors last year a rare feat for a player nowadays. He is proving the Dodgers made the right decision with the plays that he has made in the outfield this season have been jaw-dropping he has made just three errors thus far in 2015.

He is just 23 years old and still has a very high ceiling of what he can become I think the Dodgers found somewhat of a diamond in the rough and I don’t really understand how he lasted to the 11th round,but the Dodgers are happy with their choice!

Right Fielder Giancarlo Stanton Miami Marlins

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Giancarlo Stanton is the richest man in major league baseball after signing a $325 million contract this off-season. He has definitely earned that money this season he is hitting .265 with 27 home runs and 67 runs batted in, a pretty stout start to that contract proving that he is worth every penny. In his five-year career he is hitting .270 with 181 home runs most of them moon shots and 466 runs batted in. This guy has stupid power it doesn’t matter where you pitch him he can take you deep no matter who you are. It’s really mind-boggling to me how he slipped to the second round 76 overall in the 2007 draft trust me every single one of those teams that passed on him would love to redo that decision.

The one major concern for Stanton and the Marlins is just the bad luck injuries that he suffered over the last year. Last September he was struck in the face with a Mike Fires fastball that set him back for a little while, but he was able to come back stronger than ever.  This season on just a harmless swing he fractured his wrist having him to miss 4 to 6 weeks he has just been cleared for baseball activities, but is not expected back until mid-August. If he can avoid the freak injuries  he will be the leader for the Miami Marlins for years to come. At 25 he is entering the prime of his career the sky is the limit for this him, who knows we could be talking about him breaking the Home run record.

As you can see, baseball just keeps getting younger and younger it’s fun to see how these players have developed into All-Stars! For many of them it  has happened overnight  and changing the complexion of many franchises. These are just the position players, the young pitching these days is absolutely incredible and I couldn’t choose just one so I will do another one just focused on the pitchers. I love baseball so much and seeing the teams develop and stars born is so exciting for me a diehard baseball fan I hope you guys agree!!!

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