Tampa Bay Rays prospect Matt Moore jumped into the national consciousness last September when, making just his second MLB appearance, he spun seven two-hit innings in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Texas Rangers.
The Rays locked Moore up to a long-term deal this winter, and I'm sure that he'll go from a September call-up in 2011 to a big-league star in 2012.
Moore isn't the only prospect who's poised for a huge year.
Here's every team's prospect who's poised for a breakout season.
Some players cracked the major league roster for a few weeks last year; others are yet to find success above Double-A.
All of them, though, have the talent to shine in 2012 and put themselves on the map.
Matt Moore has been on the radar of many Tampa Bay Rays fans for some time now, but 2012 will be the year that he explodes as a household name.
Even if you put aside the seven dominant innings Moore pitched in Game 1 of the ALDS, this left-hander put together good enough numbers in the minors to justify a spot on the Opening Day roster.
He went 12-3 with a 1.92 ERA across two minor league levels, and with the exception of maybe getting a couple more starts at Triple-A Durham, he doesn't have anything left to prove at that level.
He has electric stuff and good control. With that combination, Moore will succeed at whatever level he pitches at.
The Rays inked Moore to a lucrative deal this offseason, showing enough faith in their top prospect to lock him up through his prime.
The 22-year-old is one of the very best young pitchers in the game, and he'll be looking to prove that his playoff gem was no fluke. I wouldn't be surprised if he won eight games and posted a sub-4.00 ERA in a stacked AL East this year.
Manny Banuelos has superstar written all over him.
The 20-year-old left-hander has an above-average fastball and two plus pitches in his change and hook.
He made seven starts for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2011, going 2-2 with a 4.19 ERA. Across two levels, between Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Double-A Trenton, Banuelos was 6-7 with a 3.75 ERA and 125 strikeouts over 129.2 innings.
There's a lot of talent on that Yankees roster, but it's only a matter of time before Banuelos joins that list. He will begin the year at Triple-A, but he has the tools to be in the Bronx as early as June.
I was originally really high on Andrew Brackman having a breakout year in 2012. Then the New York Yankees didn't pick up his contract, and he signed elsewhere.
At 6'10" and 240 pounds, Brackman cuts an imposing figure on the mound. He's had some trouble with an increased walk rate as he's advanced through the system, but with his injury behind him, I thought that was the only thing standing in the way of a successful big-league career.
Bryce Harper is the obvious choice here, but the thing is, we're all expecting—unfairly or not—a monster year once he arrives in the majors. Harper's hype precedes him, and although some of it is justified, a lot of people wouldn't be surprised if he does have early success in his major league career.
Regardless of which minor leaguers get promoted to Washington before Harper next year—or who gets called up after him—none will have the kind of attention that Harper gets. Stephen Strasburg's return will have the media salivating, but it's now Harper who everyone is waiting to see.
He went from Hagerstown to Harrisburg in 2011, hitting .297 with 17 homers and 58 RBI in 109 games. He proved in the Arizona Fall League that he's healthy, so you don't have to worry about his leg being OK for the start of the year.
He's maturing as a player, and he's every bit as good as people think he is. His debut will be the most anticipated rookie start of the entire year.
Yet to play a game above Double-A, Tim Wheeler is on a fast track to the major leagues. Will he break camp with the team after spring training? Probably not. But remember this post when you see him in Colorado later this year.
This 23-year-old outfielder has rapidly developed into one of the best raw power hitters in the organization, and he's not finished yet.
He mashed 33 homers at Tulsa in 2011, all while maintaining his running game (21 steals) and lifting his average (.287). His .900 OPS was easily a career high, and there was no doubt that the 2011 version of Wheeler was what the Rockies had in mind when they selected him as a compensation first-round pick in the 2009 draft.
This 6'4" left-hander will see his power numbers decrease when he makes the jump to Triple-A at the start of 2012, but don't be concerned. He's got the talent to be a 20-20 guy in the majors within a couple years, and he'll give fans a tantalizing glimpse of that potential this season.
Plus speed, ridiculous power and stellar defense.
Kinda reminds you of Carlos Gonzalez out there in center field, doesn't it?
Jedd Gyorko should see time at the big-league level this season if he continues on his current path.
He lit up the hitter-friendly Cal League with Lake Elsinore and then proved he was more than capable of handling his own at Double-A San Antonio.
Gyorko is a pure hitter with great pop and a knack for getting runners home. For those who question whether he would be able to make an impact at the major league level, just take a look at what he was able to do in the Arizona Fall League at the end of last year.
Yes, it's only a small sample size, but a .437 average with nine extra-base hits and 22 RBI in 18 games against the top prospects in the games makes me stand up and take notice.
Selected in the second round of the 2010 draft, Gyorko needs seasoning before he's ready to contribute on an everyday basis, but don't take that to mean he's years away from a spot on the roster.
Gyorko could hit 20 homers or post a .400 OBP at Triple-A next year en route to San Diego.
Once in the majors, he'll prove his 2011 breakout was legit.
Miami Marlins fans caught a brief glimpse of Matt Dominguez last season when he suited up for 17 games in his first taste of the majors.
Dominguez handled himself well with the Triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs last year, smacking 12 homers and 18 doubles while plating 55 runs and scoring 47 more. That's a pretty impressive tally for 87 games, and you can't help but think that he could have been a 20-80 guy with a full season there.
The third baseman has a quick bat, and he generates above-average power in his swing. He has a roadblock in Miami in the form of displaced shortstop Hanley Ramirez, but I'm still not convinced that Ramirez is as happy playing second fiddle to Jose Reyes as he makes out.
If the Marlins trade Ramirez, expect Dominguez to fill the hole and break out.
Australian right-hander Liam Hendriks relies on pinpoint control to find success on the mound.
He won't blow hitters away, but what he lacks in velocity, he makes up for in location and changing speeds.
He went 12-6 between New Britain and Rochester last year, posting a 3.36 ERA in 139.1 innings of work. He made four starts for the Minnesota Twins, but he's yet to record his first victory in the majors.
The 22-year-old has been among Minnesota's top prospects for the last few years, and 2012 could be when he makes his breakthrough. A midseason Eastern League All-Star and Futures Game selection, Hendriks could sneak in to the back end of the rotation this year.
Jason Marquis and Brian Duensing will likely be fighting for the fifth spot, but expect Hendriks to be in that mix with a strong spring training.
Alex Liddi had a brief introduction to the major leagues in 2011, and he should be back there again this coming year.
The 6'4" third baseman has ridiculous power and a pretty good eye. He blasted 30 homers with Triple-A Tacoma last year, and he has averaged 100 RBI over the last three years in the minors.
A non-drafted free agent, Liddi is on the cusp of great things. Kyle Seager probably has a slight edge over Liddi headed into spring training, but it's likely that whoever has the better spring will make the Opening Day roster.
I can see a time when both men are playing side by side on the left side of the Seattle infield. Seager's versatility helps Liddi, as any injury to Dustin Ackley or Brendan Ryan opens the door.
Liddi hit .225 with three homers and six RBI in 15 games with the Mariners in 2011.
If he can cut down on his strikeouts, he will be a prolific power threat.
Former first-round draft pick Devin Mesoraco is primed for a breakout season. He made it to the majors last year with the Cincinnati Reds, but his .180 average was in no way indicative of the kind of talent he possesses.
Mesoraco hit .302 with 26 homers and 75 RBI across three minor league levels in 2010, and he smacked 15 home runs with 71 RBI in 120 Triple-A games last season.
Mesoraco is a legitimate big-league hitter, and he has the talent to post an .800 OPS with the Reds. Hitting in the middle of that lineup behind Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips, he could put up some lofty numbers.
Ryan Hanigan isn't untouchable behind the plate, so it's only a matter of time until Mesoraco gets another shot.
Jeremy Moore has all the tools to stick around the majors for a long time.
The left-handed 24-year-old can hit for average, hit for power, run and defend. He hit .298 with 15 homers, 24 doubles and 18 triples, stole 21 bases and played a solid left field last year with Triple-A Salt Lake.
Moore has been in pro baseball since 2005, but his progress has been relatively slow after spending virtually an entire year at every level he's played since being drafted out of high school.
Moore got a cup of coffee with the Angels last year, but he needs a lot of things to go right in spring training.
Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter, Peter Bourjos, Mike Trout and Bobby Abreu are all ahead of him on the depth chart, meaning he'll have to rely on an injury or trade to get his shot before rosters expand.
Moore has all the talent in the world; he just needs his shot. If he gets a chance early in 2012, he will impress a lot of people at the major league level.
After a dominant season in the Eastern League with New Hampshire in 2010, Darin Mastroianni graduated to Triple-A Las Vegas and, by the end of the 2011 season, the Toronto Blue Jays.
The former 16th-round outfielder has a good bat and plus speed. He's never going to flash a lot of power, but he's a solid gap-to-gap hitter, and he has value on the basepaths.
Mastroianni is a disciplined hitter, but he'll need gaps to open up in center or left field if he wants to prove he belongs.
He isn't a flashy player who'll show up on SportsCenter every week, but he does the little things right at the plate and in the field.
Ryan Lavarnway has a major league bat, and it's only a matter of time before he becomes a regular fixture in the Boston Red Sox lineup.
The 6'4" Yale product has always been known as a big hitter, but he took his game to a whole new level in 2011 when he continued to produce at Portland and Pawtucket.
Lavarnway set career highs in a number of offensive categories last year, including home runs (32) and batting average (.290). He appeared in 17 games for Boston, batting .231 with a couple homers and eight RBI.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia is the No. 1 backstop, but Lavarnway could move past Kelly Shoppach into a backup role early in 2012.
Once he's in the big-league clubhouse, it's only a matter of time until he breaks out.
Julio Teheran had a breakout year in the minors in 2011, and the Atlanta Braves prospect will make a big impact in the majors this season.
He went 15-3 with a 2.55 ERA in 25 appearances for the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves before making five outings, including three starts, in the big leagues.
The 6'2" right-hander does not turn 20 until later this month, putting him well ahead of the curve for players his age.
Teheran has two plus pitches and pinpoint control. His fastball hits 96, and he throws it for strikes. His curve is pretty good too, and his change is outstanding.
A native of Columbia, the lanky 175-pound hurler has already drawn comparisons with Pedro Martinez for his build and repertoire.
This season, you'll see exactly why. He could be a Rookie of the Year candidate if he breaks camp with the team.
Tyler Skaggs came to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010 in the deal that sent fellow starter Dan Haren to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The former first-rounder is yet to advance past Double-A, but it's not going to be long until he leaves his mark on the majors. Depending on how long he takes to mow down Triple-A hitters, Skaggs could be in the bigs by the All-Star break.
He was 9-6 with a sub-3.00 ERA between the hitter-friendly Cal League and Southern League, and he fanned 198 batters in 158.1 innings. He has electric stuff that starts with an overpowering fastball and is complemented by a plus breaking ball.
The southpaw has decent command, and he has succeeded at every level so far. A midseason and postseason All-Star this year, Skaggs could be the breakout star of the D-Backs this coming year.
Joe Mahoney spent almost all of 2011 in the Eastern League with Double-A Bowie, and he's ready to jump up a class to Triple-A Norfolk next year.
There are still a couple things he needs to work out, but he's well on his way to being a star. His running game has slowed down over the last couple seasons, and his walk rate has continued to be below average.
That said, he has decent power and the ability to hit for a high average. He's posted OPS numbers of .864 and .862 over the last two years, and he's a threat to hit close to .300 wherever he plays.
The 24-year-old is arguably the best position player the Orioles have in their system, and he should really come of age this coming year.
With Mark Reynolds ahead of Mahoney in the depth chart, it's unlikely that he will make too much impact at the big-league level this year. But he should have a breakout year at Norfolk and crack the major league roster by the end of the year.
That will put him in a great position for 2013, by which time everyone will know his name.
Brandon Short is a toolsy prospect who has the talent to crack Triple-A and see some time in the majors this year.
He combines above-average power with good speed and great instincts, although you'd like to see him take a few more pitches and raise his average 10 to 15 points.
The 23-year-old outfielder hit .262 with 13 homers and 60 RBI in 130 games for Birmingham in the Southern League in 2011. He also hit 29 doubles and legged out five triples and 21 stolen bases.
Expectations have never been too high for Short, selected in the 28th round of the 2008 draft, but he has continued to rise up the prospect chart. Short is arguably the top outfield prospect on the farm now, ahead of Jared Mitchell only on the basis that he's more likely to crack the big-league roster first and has fewer holes in his swing.
Short took his offseason game to the Arizona Fall League in October. He recorded 12 extra-base hits and plated 15 runs in 29 games for the Mesa Solar Sox, letting the Chicago front office know he's right on track to break out soon.
Left-handed starting pitcher Scott Barnes spent most of the 2011 season with the champion Columbus Clippers of the International League, and he should be ready to break out with his major league debut in 2012.
The 24-year-old southpaw went a combined 8-4 in 18 appearances between Columbus and Double-A Akron, striking out 107 batters in 99 innings and compiling a 3.45 ERA.
He doesn't have overpowering stuff, but his fastball is still his No. 1 weapon. He also has a changeup and slider that he's pretty comfortable with, and he throws all three of his pitches for strikes.
The Indians don't have too many legitimate left-handed pitching prospects ready to contribute in 2012, but Barnes, along with Nick Hagadone, is among those who can.
The Indians are relatively weak at the back of the rotation. Barnes should be in a good position to compete with the likes of lefty David Huff and right-handers Jeanmar Gomez and Derek Lowe.
Jacob Turner had a rough introduction to the majors in 2011, going 0-1 with an 8.53 ERA in his three short appearances. Putting these initial struggles aside, I'm willing to bet that Turner not only makes it back to Detroit in 2012, but that he has a big season as well.
Turner may have been a little underprepared when he got called up last season, but with a couple months of Triple-A experience under his belt, there's no reason to think he won't succeed when he gets another shot.
Turner has good stuff and excellent control. He was fast-tracked from West Michigan to Detroit in less than two years, and it's easy to forget that the 6'5" Missouri native doesn't turn 21 until May.
The first-rounder was drafted out of high school, and he has lived up to the hype so far. Expect Turner to blitz through the International League and make a name for himself in the major leagues.
He's setting the groundwork for an Opening Day roster spot in 2013, and his experience on a big-league field this year will set him firmly on the path to superstardom.
The Kansas City Royals have a stocked farm system.
Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas impressed last year after graduating from the minors, and several more, led by Clint Robinson, are set to do the same again in 2012.
Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi are likely to start the year at Triple-A with Robinson, who smacked 23 homers, hit .326 and plated 100 runs with Omaha a year ago.
Robinson's big season proved that 2010 was no fluke and that his batting crown from the Texas League was a real indication of his skills.
Hosmer and Billy Butler stand in his way in Kansas City, and that's a real concern, but Robinson will get his shot.
He could start for a number of clubs already, but if the Royals hold on to him, he's just one injury or slump away from getting his moment to shine.
Brad Peacock moves from the NL East to the AL West in 2012, but regardless of the town or time zone he plays in, he's a prospect who could easily be in consideration for the Rookie of the Year honors.
If you follow minor league baseball or you read the scouting reports on Peacock following the Gio Gonzalez trade, you'll know the kind of form he found in 2011. He went 15-3 with a 2.39 ERA between Harrisburg and Syracuse before earning a call-up to Washington in September.
The thing is, casual baseball fans might look at his numbers and never realize the struggles he had in the years before that. He lost 11 games in 2010, 11 games in 2009 and 12 games in '08.
But in 2011, his command was good, and he knocked 70 points off his opponents' batting average from the previous three years despite moving up through the ranks. Furthermore, his strikeout numbers increased without a corresponding rise in innings pitched.
Last year was a big year for him at the minor league level, and 2012 will be an even bigger year at the major league level. He'll have to compete with Jarrod Parker and A.J. Cole to sneak onto the back of the rotation, but there's no doubt he has the talent to do just that.
Martin Perez is an impressive left-handed starting pitcher who doesn't turn 21 until a couple days after Opening Day.
One of the younger can't-miss prospects in the organization, Perez has everything it takes to succeed in the majors against players who have years of experience on him.
He went 8-6 between Frisco and Round Rock in 2011, striking out 120 batters over 137.1 innings. His changeup is virtually unhittable, and his raw stuff is impressive for any pitcher.
It took Perez more than two years to figure out the Texas League, and that concerned some people. Then he had some teething problems when he got his first look at the PCL, and it raised a red flag again.
But Perez is the real deal. He has to improve his command a little and figure out a better approach to facing right-handers, but he's almost there.
The 2012 season will be his breakout party.
Despite the fact that the New York Mets are in rebuilding mode, there's actually not a whole lot of major league-ready talent in the upper levels of the organization.
Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, the team's top two prospects, are at least a year away from Citi Field, and Wilmer Flores and Jeurys Familia are even further away. Cory Vaughn, probably the best hitting prospect the team will have for a decade, won't be in a major league locker room until 2014.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis is one of the best players the Mets had at Triple-A Buffalo last year. He hit .298 with six homers in 53 games, and he was well on his way to a major league debut until a shoulder injury put him on the shelf for the rest of the year.
Nieuwenhuis has displayed average power and speed since being selected by the Mets in the '08 draft, and he has a pretty good feel at the plate and in the field.
He doesn't have one big weapon that stands out, but he does have a well-rounded game that puts him in a good position to contribute when the Mets' outfield carousel falls apart in the coming months.
Relatively unknown outside of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball community, right-handed pitcher Justin De Fratus has quietly gone from being an 11th-round draft pick in 2007 to a legitimate late-game option out of the bullpen.
De Fratus started his minor league career as a starter, but the Phillies moved him into the 'pen in the 2009 season, while he was with Lakewood in the South Atlantic League. Since then, he has not started a game, instead being used predominantly as an eighth- and ninth-inning guy.
In 2011, De Fratus went 6-3 with 15 saves and a 2.99 ERA between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He struck out 99 batters over 75.1 innings. A year before, he recorded 21 saves, mostly in Class A Advanced Clearwater.
De Fratus made his major league debut last year, and he held hitters to an .083 average (one hit in five relief appearances) in his brief stint with the big club.
The 24-year-old California native was not included in the list of 15 players invited to spring training camp, meaning De Fratus' breakout will be even more impressive.
Watch this space.
Paul Clemens has recorded a grand total of 14 outs above Double-A, but I predict big things for him in 2012.
Selected by the Atlanta Braves in the seventh round of the '08 draft, the 6'4" right-hander Clemens has the ability to post exceptional numbers.
He was 8-6 between Mississippi (with Atlanta) and Corpus Christi last season, and he fanned 119 batters over 139.1 innings. What those numbers don't show you is the velocity and life on his fastball—his best weapon.
Clemens, a powerful athlete for someone who appears a little wiry at 180 pounds, is yet to hit his prime, indicating there's still time to improve his command and work on pitching lower in the zone.
Despite his success last year, he left too many balls belt-high.
The giddyup on his heater helps him overcome some location errors, but the window for making mistakes will only close as he progresses through the organization.
Right-hander Wily Peralta has overpowering stuff that helped him break out to his first 10-win season last year.
At 6'2" and 220 pounds, Peralta has a stocky build with powerful legs and a strong upper body. He has always had impressive stuff, but he improved his game in all areas over the last 12 months, and that makes him even more dangerous.
He upped his strikeout numbers from 104 to 157, despite jumping up a level, and he cut down on his walks, home runs allowed and opponents' batting average.
The result was an 11-7 record and a 3.17 ERA across 26 starts between Huntsville and Nashville.
A native of the Dominican Republic, there has never been overwhelming hype for Peralta—a non-drafted free agent who signed with the Brewers seven years ago as a young teenager.
With the momentum from 2011 in his back pocket, expect a big year this coming season.
Jeff Locke's six years of perseverance in the minor leagues were rewarded in 2011 when he was called up to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Locke, a second-round draft pick out of Conway High School in New Hampshire, took longer to reach the majors than some people first anticipated, but he will look to make his second stint a much longer stay.
After he posted a 12-win season in 2010, I expected big things from Locke in 2011 at Indianapolis. Unfortunately, he spent most of the year with Double-A Altoona in the Eastern League, reducing his stock to the point that I questioned whether he had what it took.
Locke is an innings eater who throws hard and commands his pitches well. He was shaky at times with the Curve, but I believe he's a better pitcher than his losing record or plus-4.00 ERA suggests.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have guys like James McDonald, Erik Bedard and Brad Lincoln at the back end of their rotation right now, but I would suggest that Locke—at least a couple years younger than each of them—has the stuff to be a good No. 4 or No. 5 guy.
The Prates will give him a bigger role this year, and I fully expect him to grasp it with both hands.
Twenty-one-year-old Shelby Miller may not need to spend too long at Triple-A before getting promoted to St. Louis.
The 6'3", strike-throwing Texan dominated with Double-A Springfield last year, and there's no doubt that he has to start 2012 as the ace of the Memphis Redbirds, at the very least.
The club's Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Miller has nothing to prove in the Texas League, and I'm convinced Miller will be with the big club by the All-Star break.
He has an 18-11 record and 310 strikeouts in 244 minor league innings over the last two seasons. The fact that Miller got drafted in the first round out of high school and therefore never got the chance to compete at a top D-I college makes his success even more remarkable.
Miller is one of those once-in-a-generation talents who has the natural ability to do special, special things.
His fastball has the chance to be one of the best pitches in the organization, while his continually improving offspeed stuff could make him elite.
In 23-year-old Shawn Tolleson, the Los Angeles Dodgers have a fantastic closer in the making.
The right-hander came into last season with just one half-season under his belt, but you would never have known that from watching him.
He posted 25 saves and seven wins with a 1.17 ERA across three levels in 2011, and he struck out 105 batters in 69 innings while walking just 18 men.
With an explosive fastball and a late-breaking slider, the righty out of Baylor University has all the tools to factor in the Dodgers' plans in the not-so-distant future.
Tolleson spent most of his first full year in the Southern League with the Chattanooga Lookouts, where he built on the early success he found with Great Lakes and Rancho Cucamonga.
He still needs to log some innings with L.A.'s Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque before the Dodgers can give serious consideration to moving him to the majors, but it's now a case of "when" rather than "if."
Javy Guerra and Kenley Jansen were both effective last year, but I can see Tolleson stealing fellow right-hander Matt Guerrier's roster spot in the coming season.
Once he's in L.A., the only way is up.
Eric Surkamp's impressive 2011 campaign saw him earn a series of accolades and a pair of late-season big-league call-ups.
He went 11-4 with a 1.94 ERA, and he struck out 170 batters over 148.1 innings. He was a two-time Eastern League Pitcher of the Week, a midseason and postseason Eastern League All-Star and a Baseball America Double-A All-Star.
The former sixth-round draft pick made six appearances with the San Francisco Giants, posting a 2-2 mark and 5.74 ERA.
With Zack Wheeler moving to New York in the move that sent Carlos Beltran out west, Surkamp is the de facto ace in the organization.
He has three good pitches and above-average command. The Giants have a good, young nucleus when it comes to the starting rotation, and Surkamp only adds to that.
He won't crack the team out of camp, but he will have a breakout year in Fresno, culminating in another major league promotion.