If Every Team Was Homegrown: AL East
Our Homegrown Roster series continues with the AL East. The NL East, NL Central and NL West have all been completed, and now we look at what the Orioles, Red Sox, Yankees, Rays and Blue Jays would look like in 2019 if their entire starting lineups were made up of homegrown players.
Any player signed for entry into Major League Baseball is eligible to be listed with the team that signed them. Foreign professionals signed from Japan, Cuba, South Korea or other countries are included in addition to those players drafted and signed, signed as international amateurs or signed as undrafted free agents.
Players must have been active in 2018 and are scheduled to be active in 2019 to be eligible. Teams are listed in alphabetical order.
Analysis: The Orioles have some of the highest highs and lowest lows of any team when it comes to homegrown position players. Machado, Markakis and Wieters all became All-Stars and Schoop and Mancini have had their moments of success, but filling out the other four lineup spots is a significant challenge. While Orioles pitching is perennially among the worst in baseball, it's not because they haven't identified it well at the amateur levels. Davies, Rodriguez, Hader and Brault were all traded as prospects, while Arrieta was famously traded prematurely.
BOSTON RED SOX
Honorable Mention: Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Travis Shaw, Manuel Margot, Yoan Moncada, Hanley Ramirez, Brian Johnson, Jalen Beeks, Jose Iglesias, Alex Wilson, Matt Barnes, Hunter Strickland, Jose Alvarez, Hector Velazquez, Brandon Workman, Noe Ramirez, Blake Swihart.
Analysis: The Red Sox's collection of homegrown position players remains the best in baseball. Their infield matches the Cubs in terms of both star power and depth, and on top of it they have arguably the best homegrown outfield in the game with plenty of depth there as well. Developing pitching has long been a problem for the Red Sox—Lester, Buchholz and Sanchez were all drafted or signed in 2005 or earlier—but it's starting to look better with Kopech's rise to the majors and Montas' emergence as a solid starter for Oakland last year.
NEW YORK YANKEES
Honorable Mention: Brett Gardner, Ben Gamel, David Robertson, Mark Melancon, Austin Romine, Adam Warren, Tyler Clippard, Shane Greene, Tommy Kahnle, Arodys Vizcaino, Caleb Smith, Jake Cave, Dustin Fowler, Tyler Austin, Bryan Mitchell, Jose Pirela, Jonathan Holder, James Pazos.
Analysis: Two decades of superb international scouting stand out for the Yankees. Two-thirds of their homegrown lineup (Cano, Sanchez, Andujar, Cervelli, Cabrera and Nunez) were signed as international amateurs, while three-fifths of the starting rotation (Severino, Nova, Tanaka) come from outside the U.S. The other area the Yankees have been exceptionally strong in is developing relievers, as Betances, Robertson, Melancon, Greene, Clippard, Warren, Kahnle, Vizcaino, Holder and Pazos form the best homegrown relief group in baseball, with only the Cardinals a true challenger. Developing starting pitching has been a bit of a problem, with only a declining Kennedy, Smith and Mitchell available to fill out the back of the rotation and leaving the Yankees without much homegrown pitching depth, which has been an issue for the club in recent years.
2019 MLB Rookie Of The Year Watch
AL and NL Rookie of the Year candidates, dark horses and players to keep an eye on.
TAMPA BAY RAYS
Honorable Mention: Felipe Vazquez, Alex Colome, Jake McGee, James Shields, Matt Moore, Jacob Faria, Jason Hammel, Jesse Hahn, Brent Honeywell, Kirby Yates, Ryne Stanek, Jose Alvarado, Diego Castillo, Luke Maile.
Analysis: The Rays have long been one of baseball's best at developing pitchers and one of the worst at developing position players. They've produced two Cy Young winners and a group of impressive starters both young and old, plus a standout group of All-Star closers that includes Davis, Vasquez and Colome. On the flip side is the position players. The last Rays homegrown position player to hit 20 home runs in a season is Longoria, who was drafted in 2006. Outside of Kiermaier and Longoria, the best of the Rays' homegrown position players are all part-timers in the major leagues, at best. The direct consequence is eight of the Rays' nine projected starters for 2019 had to be acquired in trades.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Honorable Mention: Danny Jansen, Ryan Borucki, Anthony DeSclafani, Sam Dyson, Miguel Castro, Brett Cecil, Jeff Hoffman, Adeiny Hechavarria, Richard Urena, Aaron Loup, Danny Farquhar, Rowdy Tellez, Erik Kratz, Kendall Graveman, Ryan Goins, Daniel Norris, Ryan Tepera.
Analysis: Like the Rays, the Blue Jays have been excellent at developing pitchers and poor at identifying and developing position players. Only two players in their homegrown lineup are actually everyday players in the major leagues—Gomes and Pillar—and many of their other best options—Guerrero Jr., Barreto, Alford—have yet to establish themselves in the majors at all. The Blue Jays' pitching is strong at the top and has depth in the both the rotation and bullpen, which is the one saving grace in their track record of player development.