25 And Under Team
Thanks to The Card Swap group member Steve Mangini, he asked the question "If you had to start a franchise with one player under 25 years old, who would it be and why?". I was surprised to find out how many great young players the game already has. I also found a bunch of impact players at age 26, so I will mention them in the "Too Old" section in each position. Here's how the 25 and under team would look:
Note: All players mentioned played at least 40% of the time at the position they are listed in. Why 40%? If not, it would have omitted players like Cody Bellinger and Yoan Moncada due to playing multiple positions.
Catcher: Will Smith, Francisco Mejia, Danny Jansen
Too Old: Sean Murphy
I was not surprised that this list was relatively small. For catchers, you think of Yadier Molina and Buster Posey, both at the end of their careers. The young talent coming up shows promise. Will Smith has the honor of playing for the Dodgers, and most likely is the impact player of this group. Mejia has yet to find a solid spot on a team after being traded between Cleveland, the Padres, and now the Rays. Jansen in 2019 was one of the more consistent catchers ranking 4th among catchers in fielding percentage.
First Base: Cody Bellinger, Dominic Smith, Rowdy Tellez
Too Old: Pete Alonso
This position features all lefties. Cody Bellinger is the premier smasher of players 25 and under, having the most home runs (123). Dominic Smith had more hype around him than his teammate Pete Alonso, but with him breaking the home run rookie record, that delayed his ascent. No, I'm not putting Rowdy in here just because I like him, he's actually a decent hitter (.797 career OPS).
Second Base: Gleyber Torres, Ozzie Albies, Yoan Moncada
Too Old: Brandon Lowe
Gleyber Torres has bounced around the Yankees infield, thanks to players like Miguel Andujar, DJ LeMahieu, and Gio Urshella. Because of his offensive talent (38 homers in 2019), he's always found a way to be in the Yankees lineup. Ozzie Albies was once more hyped than his center field buddy Ronald Acuña Jr, but is still a top tier second basemen already. Moncada has split time between second and third, but I couldn't believe he is still 25.
Third Base: Rafael Devers, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Alec Bohm
Too Old: Miguel Andjuar
Rafael Devers' defense has been a question at third, but is getting better. His bat (54 doubles in 2019) keeps him in the lineup. Vlad Jr features untapped raw power with a great eye for the plate. Much like Devers, defense is improving. Alec Bohm burst onto the scene last year, and batted .338 narrowly missing out on Rookie of the Year honors to Devin Williams.
Shortstop: Fernando Tatis Jr, Willy Adames, Adalberto Mondesi
Too Old: Carlos Correa
Tatis Jr just signed a 14 year deal with the Padres, and rightfully so. He was on pace for a 30/30 season last year, and plays shortstop at a Gold Glove level. We take a dip to Willy Adames, but he's not to be overlooked. Adames is good for 20 home runs and features possibly the strongest arm out of all of the infielders. Mondesi is known for his speed, leading the league in triples in 2019 and stolen bases last year.
Center Field: Ronald Acuña Jr, Kyle Lewis, Trent Grisham, (Luis Robert)
Too Old: Ian Happ, Ramon Lauerano
Acuña Jr's game is above average in every aspect. From stolen bases, to home runs, Acuña Jr ranks in the top five for this group. Kyle Lewis won Rookie of the Year last year over Luis Robert, barely out hitting him (.801 OPS to .738). Trent Grisham was one of the best defensive center fielders last year, winning a Gold Glove. He's another player on the 30/30 watch. I have to mention Luis Robert as well, because I couldn't leave one out of the Robert/Grisham/Lewis combo. LuBob's physical makeup is Trout-esque. He should garner MVP buzz much like Acuña Jr.
Left Field: Juan Soto, Eloy Jimenez, Kyle Tucker
Too Old: Andrew Benintendi
Juan Soto could be the player to break records. He's only 22 years old, but already has three years of experience. He lead the league last year in all of the traditional splits with a slash line of .351/.490/.6951.185 and a league leading 212 OPS+. Eloy is another home run hitter, with a career OPS of .848 that keeps him in the top of the order. Kyle Tucker struggled to get his foot in the door, thanks to the log jam of outfielders that the Astros featured. Last year, he was able to play a full season, collecting six triples and hitting nine home runs with 42 RBIs.
Right Field: Nomar Mazara, Franmil Reyes, Dylan Carlson
Too Old: Clint Frazier
Right field is lacking compared to the other outfield positions. Mazara missed out on Rookie of the Year honors in 2016. Last year, he was the only full time right fielder to not make an error. Franmil Reyes cranks the ball when he comes in contact with it, ranking near the tops in exit velocity. Dylan Carlson is known for his defense, and can play every outfield position.
Staring Pitcher: Shane Bieber, Ian Anderson, Darwinzon Hernandez
Too Old: Walker Buehler
As we know, Shane Bieber broke the record for fastest pitcher to 100 strikeouts, gathering 27 in just two games. He averaged 14.2 K/9 last year and grabbed the Cy Young award. Ian Anderson was a pleasant surprise for the Braves last year. He gathered a 1.95 ERA last year in 32.1 innings pitched. Used primarily as a reliver last year, Darwinzon Hernandez put together a solid 2.16 ERA in his 7 appearances.
Setup: James Karinchak
Too Old: Devin Williams
Cleveland struck gold with Karinchak last year. He was tops in mostly every statcast category for pitchers. In 26 innings, he mowed down 53 batters for a cool 17.7 K/9.
Closer: Jose Alvarado
Too Old: Roberto Osuna
Although he didn't have the greatest 2020, Jose Alvarado has more saves than Karinchak, so he's the closer. Alvarado features a nasty sinker at 97mph on average and is in the tops for velocity.