If you have no favorite Major League team, or happen to be bored playing with your favorite team and are looking to resurrect a franchise from the ashes, than you should keep on reading. Sure, it’s easy to grab a team like the Dodgers, Red Sox, Cardinals, Tigers, or Yankees and all but guarantee yourself a playoff spot on a yearly basis, or you could travel the unconventional route and pick a franchise whose farm system is healthy, and has at least some talent at the Major League level to supplement the upcoming future prospects.
We are going to take a look at five different teams, their farm systems, and what talent they have on the big league level already.
1. Minnesota Twins – Over the last 20 years the Twins have been of the more consistent clubs in the Majors, but since 2011 they have hit a rough patch , compiling a record of just 195-291. While no one likes losing, there is the perk of having one of the top picks in the draft, and the Twins have done well through the draft, and through trades in creating one of the best farm systems in the game. While not void of talent on the big league club, it’s the lower level prospects that give the fan base the feeling that things will turn around sooner, rather than later.
MLB Talent – Josh Willingham (OF), Brian Dozier (2B), Joe Mauer (1B), Rickey Nolasco (P), Phil Hughes (P), Josmil Pinto (C)
Top Prospects – Miguel Sano (3B), Byron Buxton (CF), Alex Meyer (P), Kohl Stewart (P)
In real life, Sano has undergone Tommy John Surgery and will miss 2014, but is widely considered one of the best third base prospects in the game. Buxton is considered the top prospect by many, and should be roaming centerfield for the Twins soon. The Twins also have Alex Meyer (P) and Kohl Stewart (P), who are both biding their time in the minors, and many are hopeful that these two guys will help stabilize one of the worst staffs in all of baseball. The Twins have a few other prospects that should have an impact at the MLB level also, making them one of the most attractive teams to rebuild with their stockpile of young talent.
2. Chicago Cubs – Is there any other team in baseball that needs to rise from ashes more than the Chicago Cubs?. It’s not that the Cubs have been horrible over the last 20 years, in fact, Cubs fans enjoyed a nice run last decade, but that all came to a screeching halt four years ago. Since 2010, the Cubs have amassed a record of 273 – 375, and that folks is a lot of losing. Since the Ricketts purchased the club and hired Theo Epstein as the teams President, the Cubs have tried to rebuild the franchise through trades, draft picks, and international signings. There is a lot of talent down in the minors, and a decent amount in the Majors, which makes them a pretty fun club to try and rebuild.
MLB Talent – Starlin Castro (SS), Anthony Rizzo (1B), Mike Olt, (3B), Junior Lake (OF), Jeff Samardzija (P)
Top Prospects – Javier Baez (INF), Kris Bryant, (3B), Albert Almora (OF), CJ Edwards (P), Jorge Soler (OF)
The Cubs are loaded with young position players down on the farm, but they are a bit thin in regards to pitching prospects. Regardless, the combination of Bryant, Baez, Almora, Castro, Rizzo, Olt, and Lake could make using the Cubs a lot of fun if you’re serious about going deep into your franchise.
3. Houston Astros – It doesn’t seem that long ago that the Astros were consistent National League Central contenders with the trio of the Killer B’s in Bagwell, Biggio, and Berkman. Boy how things have changed, and not for the better – at least yet. Over the last four years the franchise has lost a total of 410 games, and won a grand total of 238 games. The only good news is the fact the Astros have done a fine job of trying to rebuild their team through trades and the draft, and currently have one of the best farm systems in the league.
MLB Talent – Jose Altuve (2B), Dexter Fowler (CF), Scott Feldman (P), Brett Oberholtzer (P), Jarred Cosart (P)
Top Prospects – Mark Appel (P), Carlos Carrea (SS), George Springer (CF), Mike Foltynewicz (P)
The Astros have some serious potential in their lower level farm clubs, and while it may take a couple of years for them to reach the big league club, it should be a lot of fun mixing them in with the current crop of young players the Astros are currently trotting out. It is true that Houston plays in a very difficult and consistently good division right now, so there is bound to be some frustrations. But if you stick with your franchise, you should start reaping the rewards in 2016.
4. New York Mets – Calling the Mets organization a disaster is offensive to the word disaster. While that may seem a bit unfair, any true Mets fan would probably agree with the previous statement. Although there are other organizations that have turned losing into a true art form, the Mets unfortunately seem to be lumped in with them right now. In actuality the Mets have been pretty competitive over the last four years, but have dealt with some bad contracts, injuries, and front office turmoil. Since 2010, the Mets have 304 wins vs. 344 losses. There is some talent on the MLB level, and the Mets have done a fine job of keeping a solid farm system. Now their fans are hoping the two can merge together and finally get over that .500 mark.
MLB Talent – Ike Davis (1B), David Wright (3B), Curtis Granderson (CF) Matt Harvey (P), Jose Valverde (P)
Top Prospects – Noah Syndergaard (P), Travis d’Arnaud (C), Wilmer Florez (3B), Rafael Montero (P), Amed Rosario (SS)
While the nucleus of the Mets may be getting a bit older now, you will have both position players and pitching prospects to help rebuild a strong core, and you will just need to add a few free agents, or make a trade or two. You have enough talent to be competitive in the current division, and can choose to rebuild internally, or trade some key pieces away for some current talent, and try to give Wright, Granderson, and Valverde a legit shot at the playoffs this year.
5. Kansas City Royals – If you’re not looking to take on the monumental task of taking one of the worst teams and turning them around, but still want a bit of challenge, the Royals are the perfect team for you. Yes it’s true, the Royals were above .500 last year for the first time since Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, but that doesn’t mean they are a shoe-in to make it again this year. Regardless, the Royals have a solid big league club, a strong farm system, a beautiful stadium, and some of the best uniforms in the game. They also play in a division that I wouldn’t call weak, but it is top-heavy right now with the Tigers and Indians, and then the rest of the bunch.
MLB Talent – Alex Gordon (LF), Eric Hosmer (1B), Billy Butler (DH), James Shields (P), Jeremy Guthrie (P)
Top Prospects – Yordano Ventura (P), Raul Mondesi (SS), Kyle Zimmer (P), Miguel Almonte (P), Hunter Dozier (SS)
As you can see the Royals have some legitimate talent on the big league team, but not enough to call the playoffs a perennial given. There are a ton of options at your disposal if the Royals are your team of choice. You can choose to bring the kids up from the farm, or use them as valuable assets to trade for proven MLB talent and take a shot at a deep run into the playoffs.
Obviously there are even more teams to choose from than the ones I listed, and even more prospects than the ones I highlighted. The five teams above, though, offer a good challenge, some good options, and a lot of versatility if you like to play deep into a franchise with the MLB 14: The Show from SCEA San Diego.