AL Central Predictions

This is perhaps the worst division in baseball now that the Cleveland Indians have lost a number of players through free agency.

1. Minnesota Twins

Strengths - Myworld likes their new pickups. Jonathan Schoop has something to prove in 2019. He is not the player he was last year. Marwin Gonzalez can provide depth at every position and is bound to also bounce back from a difficult 2018 season. Nelson Cruz is a 40 homerun machine, though with his age he is not the player he once was. C.J. Cron is an improvement from what they had at the position last year.

Weakness - Hoping for bounce back years from Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano is asking a lot. They are gifted players but appear to have flaws in their game that prevent them from reaching their potential. The bullpen lacks a closer so that could hurt in the later innings. After Jose Berrios their starting rotation appears a little slim.

Prospects to Make an Impact - While the farm system is rich it is filled with too many players who have yet to play AA ball. Nick Gordon could see time at middle infield, especially if Schoop continues his struggles. Lewis Thorpe and Stephen Gonsalves could contribute to the starting rotation. Gonsalves started four games last season and dominated at AA and AAA. He is not overpowering so his lack of command (22 walks in 25 innings) resulted in failure when called up to the major leagues.

Expected Finish - In a weak division they will hang on to win with a record that will only be a couple games over .500.

2. Cleveland Indians

Strengths - They still have the strong pitching with Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco. Mike Clevinger proved a solid replacement for Danny Salazar. The left side of the infield with Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez is probably the best in baseball. The Indians have to hope the calf injury to Lindor does not linger well into the season.

Weakness - As good as the starting pitching is they will get little offensive production from their outfield. Losing Mickey Brantley to free agency left the outfield with nothing. If Hanley Ramirez makes the team as a DH that will move Carlos Santana to first base and Jake Bauers to the outfield. Some pop will be sacrificed for defense. If Bauers stays at first the collection of Jordan Luplow, Leonys Martin and Tyler Naquin will be lucky to hit 30 homeruns between the three of them. The bullpen has been hurt by the loss of Cody Allen and Andrew Miller. Like the Twins they will be spending much of the season searching for a closer.

Prospects to Make an Impact - Triston McKenzie could be in the rotation but his early season injury will delay things. He is one of the top pitchers in the minor leagues. If first base wasn’t so crowded Bobby Bradley could get some opportunities. He will have to settle for another 20 plus homerun season in the minor leagues. The outfield could get a shot in the arm from Dan Johnson. He was over shadowed in the Nationals system by Juan Soto and Victor Robles. Last year injuries limited him to just 96 games.

Expected Finish - Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez will provide plenty of production but they will need help from the rest of the lineup. The starting rotation can keep them close through six but after that the losses will mount.

3. Chicago White Sox

Strengths - The rebuilding is over so expect a number of prospects to be sprinkled in as the season progresses to add some spark to the team. The rotation has promise with Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito adding another year of education to their major league careers. Daniel Palka could be a rising star in left field. The White Sox will hope he improves on his 27 homeruns from last season but the bats around him are weak. Once Eloy Jimenez gets promoted in May he will have to move to right.

Weakness - The starting eight appears punchless. Myworld once liked Yoan Moncada but his struggles to make contact may keep his numbers down. He is moving to third base where he must reduce his 217 strikeouts to raise his average above .250 and hit 20 or more homeruns. Up the middle the White Sox are weak. Centerfielder Adam Engel, middle infielders Yolmer Sanchez and Tim Anderson and catcher Wellington Castillo are not players who will lead you to a playoff party.

Prospects to Make an Impact - Eloy Jimenez will be promoted in May and should provide more punch to the lineup. The White Sox need to hold him back for another month to get one more year out of him. He is not good defensively but he is one of the top hitters in the minor leagues. Dylan Cease and Kodi Medeiros could find themselves in the rotation. In 2014 Kodi was a first round pick of the Brewers. Tommy John surgeries will delay the rise of Michael Kopech and Dane Dunning.

Expected Finish - Rebuilding teams always seem to start winning a year early. Myworld still thinks they are a year away with most of their top prospects ready to contribute by 2020.

4. Detroit Tigers

Strengths - There is always Miguel Cabrera. If he can stay healthy he will produce, though with limited bats around him he may not get the pitches to hit. For a rebuilding team they have a pretty decent top four in their rotation with Jordan Zimmerman, Matt Boyd and Moore and Tyson Ross. This will keep them ahead of the Royals. Losing Michael Fulmer to Tommy John knocked it down a notch and left them without a critical trade piece. Soon they will be replaced by Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Franklin Perez, and Alex Faedo.

Weakness - The infield has two Pirate rejects in Jody Mercer and Josh Harrison which says a lot. The bullpen lacks a closer and will give away a lot of games. They have two backup catchers who will share playing time behind the plate.

Prospects to Make an Impact - Christin Stewart will be there starting left fielder. He could hit 20 plus homeruns but he does not play a good defense. If the Tigers were not tanking this year you would probably see Daz Cameron see more centerfield time. He is more talented than the players they have on their roster to begin the season. Jake Rogers may see another year in the minor leagues but he is one of the better defensive catchers in baseball. Another year of service time would not hurt. The Fulmer injury could give Spencer Turnbull an opportunity in the rotation. He is having an excellent spring and started three games for the Tigers last year.

Expected Finish - While they are tanking they still have too many talented players to make a free fall. Miguel Cabrera and Nick Castellanos will drive in some runs and the starting pitching is serviceable.

5. Kansas City Royals

Strengths - Hmmm. They have the potential for a good middle infield in Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi. Adalberto surprised many with his 14 homeruns and .276 average in just 75 games after hitting just .170 the previous year. Whether he can replicate that production is open to question. If not then you just have Merrifield and if the Royals can not sign him to an extension they will trade him.

Weakness - The starting rotation will get battered around. Having a pitcher named Homer Bailey tells it all. You may see a lot of openers in this group just to prevent the starters from seeing the top end of an opposing lineup three times. Third base is a hole with the departure of Mike Moustakas. Losing Salvador Perez to Tommy John is a punch in the gut to their offensive production.

Prospects to Make an Impact - With Salvador Perez out for the year rookies Meibrys Viloria and M.J. Melendez will see some time behind the plate. Viloria saw some time there last year and is having an excellent spring. Melendez may be the more talented prospect but needs more seasoning in the minor leagues.

Expected Finish - They will be competing with the Orioles and Marlins for the first pick in the 2020 draft.

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