Michael Pineda joins the New York Yankees in 2012, having been part of arguably the sexiest MLB trade all winter. He should have won the American League Rookie of the Year award in 2011, and even though he didn't, he proved that he is more than a prospect: He's a solid No. 2 starter with a scary fastball and plenty of command over it.
He's also only 23 years old.
That last fact is not least in evaluating Pineda. Pitchers do not age in a linear fashion, so it's not always certain that younger is better.
However, as the sagas of Roy Oswalt and Edwin Jackson help demonstrate, MLB teams continue to select young pitchers over older, more proven ones, and they are not wrong to do so.
Without an elite young arm or two, no organization has much chance of sustaining major success anymore. That's why last January, I began an annual habit of ranking the top 25 pitchers in MLB, 25 years of age and under. To qualify, a pitcher's "baseball age" (his age as of July 1 of the season in question) must be 25 or younger, and he must have at least appeared in the big leagues.
Since last year, eight of the top 25 have lost eligibility, and three have fallen off the list after setback seasons. The order of those left has changed a bit, too.
Here is the new list for 2012, though, of course, this takes into account more than the coming season's projected value.