If you think MLB Pipeline's sixth annual All-Defense team looks familiar, you're correct. Seven of the eight members have made previous editions of our squad of the best defensive prospects in the game.
Braves outfielder Cristian Pache, a mainstay on the All-Defense team since 2018, is the first player to make it four times.
Tigers catcher Jake Rogers, White Sox second baseman Nick Madrigal, Pirates third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes and Rangers outfielder Leody Taveras are three-time honorees. Athletics shortstop Nick Allen and outfielder Buddy Reed garner their second selections, with Royals first baseman Nick Pratto the lone newcomer.
Hayes and Madrigal both ranked among the big league leaders in outs saved at their positions despite spending less than half the season in the Majors. Pache and Taveras also made an impression with their defensive efforts in their introduction to the big leagues last summer.
Below is a breakdown as to what makes all of these guys special defenders, along with their end-of-2020-season prospect rankings:
C: Jake Rogers, Tigers (No. 12)
Rogers had a reputation as the best defensive player in the 2016 Draft, where the Astros made him a third-rounder out of Tulane, and he has lived up to the billing. Though he has yet to hit enough to claim a regular job in the Majors after going to the Tigers in the Justin Verlander trade, he threw out 39 percent of big league basestealers, while posting the fourth-quickest transfer (0.66 seconds) and pop times to second base (1.93 seconds) in 2019. His arm plays better than its solid to plus strength because of the quickness and accuracy of his throws and he also stands out as a receiver, blocker and game-caller.
1B: Nick Pratto, Royals (No. 12)
The 14th overall pick in the 2017 Draft out of a California high school, Pratto has developed slower than expected offensively but has shown Gold Glove potential at first base. A better athlete than most at his position, he moves well around the bag, has a strong arm that made him a pitching prospect as an amateur and plays defense with an aggressive mindset.
2B: Nick Madrigal, White Sox (No. 3/MLB No. 36)
Madrigal has the quick hands, smooth infield actions and baseball IQ to handle shortstop, though his fringy arm makes him a better fit at second base. The fourth overall choice in the 2018 Draft from Oregon State, he had the game uncharacteristically speed up on him at times during his big league debut last summer but still tied for 10th with two Outs Above Average at second base in just 29 starts.