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MLB Scouts Talk Anonymously About AL Central Teams for 2017


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The World Baseball Classic is over and spring training is entering the home stretch, which means the 2017 MLB season is just around the corner. Final cuts will soon be made as teams determine their 25-man rosters before breaking camp in Florida and Arizona.

Once again, Athlon Sports’ 2017 Baseball Preview magazine has all 32 teams covered, including some candid analysis from scouts on the teams and specific players. These scouting reports are just part of the content that can be found in this year’s magazine, which is available on newsstands everywhere and online.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox

“They’re really trying to accelerate their rebuild, and you have to like what they’re doing. Aggressively, the timetable for contending here is two years, but that’s if they hit on everyone right away. And they could: You could imagine a really strong rotation with Michael Kopech, Lucas Giolito, Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer. They should take their time, though, with those guys and Yoan Moncada. The Red Sox rushed him last year, but he’s got a big, big upside especially at second base — think Robinson Cano, but a switch-hitter. One of the other young guys to watch is Charlie Tilson. He’s got a good leadoff profile, a great combination of getting on base, speed and defense; he should be their center fielder. Tim Anderson will have a big impact at shortstop. They’re definitely a team in transition, but by the time they’re done selling they should have a very strong foundation for a long time.”

Cleveland Indians

“I don’t know if they’ll win the World Series, but they’ve gotten there, so they know they can do it — and that makes them even more dangerous. I worry a little about the extra mileage on the arms for guys like Corey Kluber and Josh Tomlin, but getting Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar back compensates for that. Francisco Lindor’s an MVP-in-waiting, and at that age he’ll only get better. I don’t think they can count on Michael Brantley, unfortunately; that shoulder could still be a big, big problem. Yan Gomes, with the injuries and underperformance, isn’t a safe bet as the starting catcher, either. But as long as he can catch and throw, which he can, the rest of the lineup can carry him. The bullpen will continue to be a real strength, but they were taxed so much in the postseason that you wonder how that’ll play out.”

Detroit Tigers

“They’re a dangerous team, but their age makes them fragile. The offense will always keep them in games, because they’ve got impact bats up and down the lineup. Justin Verlander’s always had the stuff, and he’s showing now how smart he is on the mound; if he doesn’t have power that day, he can pitch backwards with his curveball and changeup. He’s evolved to the point where he can adapt not just from start to start, but at-bat to at-bat — and he’s a leader on that staff. Look at Michael Fulmer: His changeup’s a separator, and his fastball and slider are plus pitches, too. He’s a budding No. 1 for me. The problem is they really need Jordan Zimmermann to be the guy he was early in the season, and I don’t know if he can. They’re in a tough spot; definitely a contender with the Twins and White Sox down, but aging and not especially deep.”

Kansas City Royals

“They’re talented and they’ve done it, so nobody likes facing them. They’re going for it again, but honestly it’s hard to take them seriously as contenders with that rotation. Danny Duffy had a big year, but his track record’s not great, and it’s thin beyond him. I’m eager to see what they have in Jorge Soler. I think he’ll be an average everyday player who may not live up to the tools, but those tools are intriguing. The inconsistencies in his approach may keep him from being the impact guy they’re hoping for, but we’ll see if the Royals, with their contact-oriented approach, can change that. Trading Wade Davis to get him makes them just another bullpen, which is sure not ideal with that rotation. They’ve got Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar and Mike Moustakas in their walk year, but they’re guys who rise to the occasion when facing pressure.”

Minnesota Twins

“I think this is a sleeping giant — fairly soon, but of course not now. There’s not a lot of impact in that rotation, just some stabilizers at best except for Jose Berrios, who had some growing pains last year but still has the most upside. I’m not giving up on their core of position players, either. Byron Buxton did a lot of damage in the last month, and he’s a dynamic athlete with the aptitude to be a star. He’ll play at 23 this year. Miguel Sano was totally miscast in the outfield last year, but he’s still a high-impact guy. Max Kepler’s a real good athlete who’s just scratching the surface, and he makes pretty decent contact for the type of power he has. Overall this is still an extremely talented group, and they’ll realign some things defensively, try to weather that weak bullpen and middling rotation and get back to the process of growing into a contender.”