American League Central Top 20 under 26: No. 5-No. 1
No. 5: Brad Keller, SP, Kansas City Royals
2020 Stats: 3 G, 3 GS, 17.2 IP, 3-0, 0.00 ERA, 15-8 K-BB, 1.3 WAR
Career Stats: 72 G, 51 GS, 323.1 IP, 19-20, 3.48 ERA, 233-128 K-BB, 7.9 WAR
Brad Keller is actually a pretty similar pitcher to Randy Dobnak, who relies more on his command than his elite stuff. Keller still has pretty good stuff, but that’s not his strong suit. Keller started off the year injured, but since returning, he’s been white hot.
Keller has won his first three starts without allowing a run and averaging 5 strikeouts over those starts. He’ll never have high strikeout numbers, but he walks very few hitters and plays good defense as a pitcher. He’s a very good starter.
No. 4: Luis Robert, OF, Chicago White Sox
Career Stats: 26 G, .277/.333/.897, 15 R, 7 HR, 17 RBI, 4 SB, 53 TB, 1.4 WAR
After just 26 games with the White Sox, it’s been pretty clear that Luis Robert has the tools to be a star in the MLB. He’s been in the middle of a slump, going 7-42 over the last eleven games, but prior to that he was hitting .322/.385/.876.
He’s got a ton of talent and has superstar potential written all over him. He will be a problem for the Minnesota Twins for years, as his combination of hitting for average, power, speed, and defense will make him a NIGHTMARE to play against.
No. 3: Yoan Moancada, 3B, Chicago White Sox
2020 Stats: 25 G, .253/.336/.781, 13 R, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 0 SB, 44 TB, 0.2 WAR
Career Stats: 369 G, .264/.337/.793, 203 R, 55 HR, 178 RBI, 25 SB, 643 TB, 7.5 WAR
The second former No. 1 prospect, Yoan Moancada has two of Luis Robert’s tools: Hitting for average and power. Though the hitting for average hasn’t been easy to spot, his other tools have been.
In 2019, Moancada hit .315 with 25 homers and 79 RBI over 132 games while also swiping 10 bases and playing good defense. He’s got superstar potential, and when that bat is swinging right, watch out. Moancada might not have Robert’s potential still, but he’s still got star potential.
No. 2: Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox
2020 Stats: 26 G, .300/.324/.934, 13 R, 9 HR, 20 RBI, 0 SB, 61 TB, 0.5 WAR
Career Stats: 149 G, .273/.316/.844, 82 R, 40 HR, 99 RBI, 0 SB, 302 TB, 2.0 WAR
Eloy Jimenez is the Chicago White Sox’ third former No. 1 prospect, and though he hasn’t even gotten 162 games in yet, he already looks like a star. Over his 149 games, he’s hit 40 homers and knocked in 99 runs. On top of that, it looks like he’s just getting started.
In 2020, Jimenez has hit .300 and sits tied for ninth in the MLB for homers. He’s already off to a much better career start than Moancada, and while Luis Robert could catch him quickly, he’s clearly the best young hitter in the AL Central.
No. 1: Shane Bieber, SP, Cleveland Indians
2020 Stats: 6 G, 6 GS, 40.2 IP, 5-0, 1.11 ERA, 65-6 K-BB, 2.2 WAR
Career Stats: 60 G, 58 GS, 369.2 IP, 31-13, 3.43 ERA, 442-69 K-BB, 7.7 WAR
Minnesota Twins fans won’t like this one, but Shane Bieber is an absolutely NASTY pitcher. The only All-Star (and AS Game MVP) on this list, Bieber has a fantastic arsenal of pitches and is downright fun to watch work…whenever the Minnesota Twins aren’t on the other side.
Bieber’s stats look good, but his 162 game average looks even better:
- 35 G, 33 GS, 213 IP, 18-7, 3.43 ERA (3.12 FIP), 255-40 K-BB, 10.8 K/9
To make matters worse for Twins fans, Bieber is only getting better. In 2020, Bieber has won every single one of his starts and boasts a stellar 1.11 ERA (his 1.74 FIP leads the league). He leads the league in innings and strikeouts, and unless some miracle happens, Bieber will have his first Cy Young before his 26th birthday. That’s good enough for No. 1 on this list.