This decade has been exceptional in the Texas League.
The past 10 years included a dynasty that hadn’t been seen since the 1920s, as the Midland RockHounds won four pennants in a row from 2014-17, starting and ending the streak with wins over the Tulsa Drillers in the finals.
It also has been a decade that has featured a high level of talent, especially among position players. TL alumni have won MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, Gold Glove and World Series MVP awards — and most of those players have performed at ONEOK Field.
Below are my selections for a Texas League All-Decade Team. Selections were based on a combination of performance in the league and majors. Players who appeared only in a rehab role, such as Clayton Kershaw with the Drillers this year, are not included.
First base: Cody Bellinger, Tulsa (2016)Finished his season with the Drillers third in the TL with 23 home runs, fourth in slugging (.484), fifth in OBP (.359) and 10th in RBIs (65). In the majors with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he was the 2017 National League Rookie of the Year, 2018 NLCS MVP and is a leading candidate for 2019 NL MVP. Runner-up is Northwest Arkansas’ Eric Hosmer (2010).
Second base: Jose Altuve, Corpus Christi (2011)
Batted .361 in 35 games to earn a promotion to the majors. In 2017, he was the AL MVP and AP Athlete of the Year as he helped the Houston Astros win their first World Series title. He is a six-time AL all-star and three-time batting champion.
Shortstop: Carlos Correa, Corpus Christi (2015, 2017-18)/Corey Seager, Tulsa (2015)
Their careers are incredibly similar. At age 20, both started the ‘15 season in the TL but were only around for about a month. Correa batted .385 and Seager .375. Each ended the year in the majors. Each has won the Rookie of the Year award and been a major league all-star. Corpus Christi’s Alex Bregman (2016) also could have been selected. Other stellar shortstops include San Antonio’s Trea Turner (2015), Tulsa’s Trevor Story (2014) and Arkansas’ Jean Segura (2012). And maybe in a few years after major league success, Tulsa’s Gavin Lux (2018-19) will be in that company.
Third base: Nolan Arenado, Tulsa (2012)
After batting .285 with the Drillers, he moved up to the Colorado Rockies in ‘13 and has been a six-time Gold Glove winner, five-time NL all-star, three-time NL home run champion and two-time NL RBI leader. Others standouts at third include Springfield’s Matt Carpenter (2010, ‘12, ‘16, ‘19), Northwest Arkansas’ Mike Moustakas (2010, ‘16) and Frisco’s Joey Gallo (2014-15).
Outfield: J.D. Martinez, Corpus Christi (2010-11, ‘13)
Batted .323 with 102 RBIs in 143 games over three seasons with the Hooks. The three-time AL all-star was the AL’s RBI leader last year as he helped the Boston Red Sox win the World Series. Has a shot at his third consecutive year of at least 40 homers.
Outfield: George Springer, Corpus Christi (2012-13, ‘15, ‘19)
Was the 2013 TL All-Star Game MVP and batted .297 with 19 homers and 55 RBIs in 73 games that season. Selected the 2017 World Series MVP with the Astros and has been an AL all-star the past three seasons.
Outfield: Mike Trout, Arkansas (2011)
At age 19, batted .326 for the Travelers to earn a promotion to the Los Angeles Angels, and was voted the AL Rookie of the Year in 2012. The eight-time AL all-star has been named the AL MVP twice.
Catcher: Salvador Perez, NW Arkansas (2011, ‘18)
Batted .283 in 79 games in 2011 and made it to the majors late that year. The six-time AL all-star has won five Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger Awards. He helped Kansas City win two pennants and the 2015 World Series.
Designated hitter: Charlie Blackmon, Tulsa (2010)
The outfielder batted .297 with 55 RBIs in 86 games for the Drillers. Has been a four-time NL all-star selection with the Colorado Rockies, was the 2017 NL batting champion and in 2017 set a major league record for RBIs (103) by a leadoff hitter.
Right-handed pitcher: Corey Kluber, San Antonio (2010)
Went 6-6 with a 3.45 ERA and led the TL with 136 strikeouts for the Missions. Has won two Cy Young Awards with the Cleveland Indians and has a 98-58 career record. Gets the nod over Springfield’s Carlos Martinez (2012-13, ‘18-19) and Tulsa’s Walker Buehler (2017).
Left-handed pitcher: Dallas Keuchel, Corpus Christi (2010-11, ‘17)
In 2011, he went 9-7 with a 3.16 ERA to earn TL all-star honors. The Bishop Kelley graduate won the AL Cy Young Award in 2015, has won four AL Gold Gloves and helped the Astros win the ‘17 World Series. Now pitching for the Atlanta Braves, has an 82-68 career record.
Miami Marlins lefty Brian Moran, who won his major league debut with a perfect inning that including striking out his younger brother, Colin, on Thursday, pitched in 41 games with the Drillers in 2017-18. Brian Moran, at age 30, has made an impressive comeback after undergoing Tommy John surgery and pitching in independent baseball...
Stillwater graduate Ryan Vilade was the California League’s player of the month. Vilade batted .368 with seven homers and 18 RBIs in August for Single-A Lancaster (Rockies). He finished the season at .303 with 12 homers and 71 RBIs...
Former Oklahoma State outfielder Colin Simpson was named the rookie-level Pioneer League MVP. He is hitting .309 with 18 homers and 49 RBIs in 56 games for Grand Junction (Rockies).