If Every Team Was Homegrown 2019: AL West
We conclude our 2019 Homegrown Roster series with the AL West, looking at what the Angels, Astros, Athletics, Mariners and Rangers would look like if their 2019 clubs were made up entirely 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 Astros' ability to identify and develop position players is in baseball's top tier with the Cubs and Red Sox. Altuve, Correa, Bregman, Springer, Martinez, Zobrist, Pence and Castro give the Astros eight homegrown position players who became All-Stars, while Laureano, Gurriel and Kiké Hernandez are key contributors to playoff teams. The Astros' homegrown pitching staff is lighter than their position group but still trumps the homegrown arms of the Red Sox and Cubs, especially with Foltynewicz's breakthrough and Mengden's progression in 2018. With their elite position player development and solid starting pitching development—and more potentially on the way with Kyle Tucker and Forrest Whitley—the Astros can lay claim to having the top organization in baseball at identifying and developing homegrown talent.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS
Honorable Mention: Garrett Richards, Ervin Santana, Jaime Barria, Tyler Chatwood, Matt Shoemaker, Kendrys Morales, Keynan Middleton, Darren O’Day, Cam Bedrosian, Jeff Mathis, David Fletcher, Sean Rodriguez, Justin Anderson, Kaleb Cowart.
Analysis: For the second consecutive year, the Angels have arguably the most impressive track record of any team when it comes to identifying and developing starting pitching. In addition to their starting five, the Angels second starting five of Richards, Santana, Chatwood, Barria and Shoemaker is significantly stronger than most other teams' top homegrown rotations. The Angels also have a strong track record of developing powerful first base/DH types (Cron, Trumbo, Morales) and outfielders, but holes in their infield development are noticeable. Kendrick was drafted in 2002, and Ward is the best of a very, very slim group of third base options. Second and third base have both been a revolving door for the Angels for years, a problem directly attributable to their struggles to identify and develop players at those positions.
Analysis: In line with their history, the Athletics have an impressive track record of finding and developing power prospects. Olson, Chapman, Muncy and Healy are all homegrown mashers who were drafted by the A's, while Cespedes was signed out of Cuba. The A's have had no problem finding and developing infielders, but outfielders have been a problem. Pinder and McKinney, both bench/platoon types, are the best of their homegrown outfielders. The A's have enough homegrown starters to fill out a rotation, but there is little to no depth beyond the starting five. Their best hope is that A.J. Puk returns successfully from his Tommy John surgery to enhance their homegrown pitching track record.
Franklin Torres Continues Adding Versatility
Torres has started playing catcher for high Class A Inland Empire, increasing his already impressive defensive value.
Honorable Mention: Brandon Morrow, Luiz Gohara, Enyel De Los Santos, Ryan Yarbrough, John Hicks, Brad Miller, Guillermo Heredia, Pablo Lopez, J.C. Ramirez, Shawn Kelley, Josh Fields, Carson Smith, Roenis Elias.
Analysis: What stands out about the Mariners' best homegrown position players is that only two of them—Hernandez and Seager—play for the team anymore. Jones, Cabrera, Choo, O'Neill and Peralta and were all traded as prospects, Marte, Taylor, Walker, Pineda were all traded at 25 or younger, and Choi was let leave as a free agent at 24. That steady stream of young talent departing the organization left it perilously short on depth for more than a decade and is the primary factor in the Mariners owning the longest postseason drought in North American professional sports. The top remaining homegrown survivors—Paxton, Diaz and Zunino—were all traded this offseason as the club embarked on a rebuild.
Honorable Mention: Mitch Moreland, Ian Kinsler, Chris Davis, Edinson Volquez, Tommy Hunter, Lewis Brinson, Manny Pina, Jesse Chavez, Leonys Martin, Leury Garcia, Craig Gentry, Keone Kela, Alex Claudio, Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
Analysis: Power remains the tool the Rangers are the strongest at identifying and developing, with sluggers Gallo, Davis, Smoak, Moreland and Encarnacion among their homegrown successes and Odor, Mazara, Herrera and Profar all having 20-home run seasons to their names as well. Two-thirds of the Rangers' best homegrown position players were signed as international free agents, a testament to their strong Latin American scouting operation. While the Rangers have had some success identifying and developing pitchers, none of their best have been drafted or signed since 2012—and that was Darvish, an accomplished Japanese professional when he signed. The Rangers' drought when it comes to homegrown pitching is directly attributable to them having the third-worst ERA in the majors last year.