Each MLB Team's Most Promising Player for 2012

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 2, 2012

Each MLB Team's Most Promising Player for 2012

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    Regardless how inaccurate most preseason predictions can be, there is one guarantee: Every year in MLB, a crop of young players burst on the scene, and 2012 will be no different.

    Here's a list of players who show the most promise for their respective teams. These aren't necessarily the best prospect for each team. In some cases, those guys are a year or two away.

    Some players on the list are obvious choices (Eric Hosmer), well-known by baseball fans. Others are known only to people who read Baseball America on a weekly basis.

    Is a player on the list and he shouldn't be? Did  someone get overlooked?

    Let your opinions be heard.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Paul Goldschmidt, 1B

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    It looks as if the first-base job is Paul Goldschmidt's to lose.

    He  is your prototypical power-hitting first baseman.

    In Double-A last year, he hit .306 with 30 HRs and 94 RBI.

    That got him a call-up to the big leagues where, in 48 games, he only hit .250, but he did have eight HRs  and 26 RBI. If you take those numbers over an entire season, you're looking at 27 HRs and 88 RBIs.

Atlanta Braves: Tyler Pastornicky, SS

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    The Atlanta Braves surprised quite a few fans and experts by giving Tyler Pastornicky the nod at shortstop.

    He doesn't have any experience in the big leagues, but his numbers in the minors definitely warrant  some of the hype he is receiving.

    He doesn't offer much power, but he did hit .365 in 27 Triple-A games and .299 in 90 Double-A games last year. Pastornicky also stole a combined 27 bases.

Baltimore Orioles: Matt Wieters, C

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    There aren't exactly a ton of All-Star candidates in Baltimore. At least none who will really make an impact in 2012.

    Although Matt Wieters was an All-Star and won a Gold Glove last year, 2012 is going to be even bigger for him.

    His RBI total (68) and batting average (.262) from last year don't exactly jump off the page, but expect improvements in those areas.

    This season is when Matt Wieters cements himself as the best catcher in baseball.

Boston Red Sox: Ryan Kalish, RF

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    With the Red Sox, it's hard to pinpoint which young player could make an impact.

    Daniel Bard seems to have already established himself pretty well. And it doesn't seem like Jose Iglesias will see a lot of playing time.

    That leaves Ryan Kalish.

    Under normal circumstances, he would be a lock, but injuries are going to keep him out until at least May or June.

    And with the surgery to his left arm, it's hard to say how much it will affect him when he returns. If he can make a full recovery, Kalish can still leave his mark on 2012.

    The other right-field options (Cody Ross and Ryan Sweeney) don't look to be huge roadblocks for him.

Chicago White Sox: Chris Sale, SP

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    Chris Sale was very good pitching out of the bullpen last year.

    In 71 innings, he had eight saves, 16 holds and 79 strikeouts, all while maintaining a 2.79 ERA.

    This year, though, he's going to be in the starting rotation.

    The innings jump could have a negative impact, but at the worst, Sale is going to be an effective fourth or fifth starter.

    Either way, Chicago looks to have its ace of the future.

Chicago Cubs: Anthony Rizzo, 1B

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    Like Paul Goldschmidt, Anthony Rizzo is a power-hitting first baseman.

    He was acquired by San Diego in the Adrian Gonzalez trade prior to last season. Then, in this past offseason, the Padres sent him to the Cubs in a trade that included starting pitcher Andrew Cashner.

    If Rizzo's minor league stats are any indication, Chicago won't have to worry about first base for the next decade.

    In Triple-A last year, he hit .331 with 26 HRs and 101 RBI. Two years ago, he hit a combined .260 with 25 HRs and 100 RBI in high-A and Double-A.

Cincinnati Reds: Homer Bailey, SP

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    This one is a bit of a wild card.

    It feels like Homer Bailey has been on a list for the biggest breakout stars for about four or five years now. Bailey is only 25, though, so it's entirely possible for him to have the one season to turn his career around.

    And 2012 will be that season.

    It probably sounds completely absurd, but Bailey will finally overcome the injury issues that have plagued him so far in his career.

    If that does happen, Bailey will anchor the Reds rotation.

Cleveland Indians: Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B

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    One of the Indians' biggest weaknesses last year was a lack of offensive production from the corner infield spots.

    While there are still questions at first, Lonnie Chisenhall looks to be the solution at third base.

    As good as Jack Hannahan was defensively last year, he was woeful at the plate, so Chisenhall has third all to himself to start the year.

    It was not a matter of if, but when he would get the call-up last year.

    In 66 games, Chisenhall hit .255 with seven HRs and 22 RBI. He'll probably never hit for a high average, but Chisenhall will more than make up for it with his power.

Colorado Rockies: Tyler Chatwood, SP

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    If you look at the player Tyler Chatwood was traded for, Chris Iannetta, it would lead you to believe the LA Angels thought little of Chatwood's potential.

    Instead, Chatwood just might have been a victim of a very deep LA starting rotation.

    This deal might prove to be highway robbery in a few years.

    Chatwood only went 6-11 last year with a 4.75 ERA. Those stats aren't too flattering, but he might have been a little rushed to the majors.

    He spent a little more than two years in the minors before getting the call-up.

    With the experience gained over last year, Chatwood definitely has the opportunity to crack the Rockies starting rotation and make an impact.

Detroit Tigers: Jacob Turner, SP

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    Going into Spring Training, ESPN has Jacob Turner penciled in as the fifth starter.

    In Double-A and Triple-A last year, Turner went 4-5 in 20 starts with a 3.44 ERA. He also made three starts in the majors, pitching 12.2 innings and giving up 13 runs.

    There's no question that Turner has the potential. However, at 20 years old, he only has spent  two years in the minors, so you wonder if Detroit might be rushing him a bit.

Houston Astros: J.D. Martinez, LF

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    Moving Carlos Lee to first base has proven to be quite a smart move for the Houston Astros. Not only was Lee one of the worst defensive left fielders, but it also opened the door for J.D. Martinez.

    In 53 games last year for the Astros, Martinez hit .274 with six HRs and 35 RBI.

    He also spent some time in Double-A., hitting  .338 with 13 HRs and 72 RBI in 88 games.

    You can expect Martinez to continue to have success, especially in an offensive-friendly stadium like Minute Maid Park.

Kansas City Royals: Eric Hosmer, 1B

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    Selecting Eric Hosmer is like going for the low-hanging fruit.

    There are quite a few options to choose from with Kansas City, but Hosmer looks to be the cream of the crop.

    The Royals were debating whether  to call him up early in the season last year. They did and it looked to be the right choice.

    He finished third in AL Rookie of the Year voting.

    Of all the players on this list, Hosmer might have the biggest year.

Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout, OF

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    This spot was reserved for Mark Trumbo until the Angels signed Albert Pujols.

    After finishing second in AL Rookie of the Year voting last year, Trumbo will find it tough to find a starting spot in LA.

    That opens the door for Mike Trout to be the Angel who has a breakout season.

    Trout offers a lot of versatility in the outfield, so while he isn't listed as a starter right now, you can easily see him finding time in the starting lineup.

    His best opportunity is probably in left field. Although Vernon Wells' power numbers weren't bad last year, he did only hit .218.

    In his short time in the minors, Trout has shown that he can hit for a high average and steal a lot of bases, which is perfect for the Angels.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Dee Gordon, SS

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    Dee Gordon gave Dodger fans glimpses of what is to come, and they have to like what they see.

    In 56 games last year, Gordon hit .304 and stole 24 bases.

    Gordon can be a really good leadoff hitter for Los Angeles if he is able to get his OBP up. It was only .325 last year.

    If he does, Gordon will be a much-coveted player in any fantasy draft for his base-stealing ability.

Miami Marlins: Logan Morrison, LF

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    The biggest obstacle to Logan Morrison having a breakout season might be Morrison himself.

    He probably had his breakout season last year, but with the Marlins, there aren't a lot of options when it comes to breakout players. Mike Stanton had a really good season last year, so he's not going to surprise anybody.

    Always one to speak his mind, Morrison's Twitter escapades got him a demotion to Triple-A  last year. It was explained that Morrison was sent down because his average began slipping, but everyone saw right through that.

    This year, Morrison is going to give Miami no choice but to keep him in the majors.

Milwaukee Brewers: Taylor Green, 1B

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    With the departure of Prince Fielder, there is an opening at first base for the Milwaukee Brewers.

    Tentatively, Mat Gamel is the starter, but he is far from a lock. He's hit .222 in 85 games over four seasons.

    Enter Taylor Green.

    Green is a bit like Fielder, a left-handed power hitter. Spending time in Double-A and Triple-A last year, Green hit .336 with 22 HRs and 91 RBI.

    Expect Green to supplant Gamel at first base early in the season.

Minnesota Twins: Ben Revere, LF

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    Ben Revere has great range in the outfield. He showed some of that in what was one of the catches of the season last year.

    Revere has the makings of a really good option at the top of the order.

    Although he didn't hit for a high average (.267) in 117 games last year, his OBP (.310) was a nice step up. He has always managed to hit above .300 in the minors.

    Revere's greatest flaw is his inability to hit for power. In five seasons in the majors and minors, he has hit only five home runs.

    If he can hit for a high average and steal 40-50 bases, he will more than make up for his lack of power.

New York Yankees: Michael Pineda, SP

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    Starting pitching has been the Yankees' Achilles heel over the past couple of seasons.

    Hiroki Kuroda was signed to provide some depth, but the bigger acquisition might be Michael Pineda.

    The Yankees thought enough of him to part with Jesus Montero, who was previously thought to be almost untouchable.

    Last year, Pineda went 9-10 in 28 starts with a 3.74 ERA. With strong run support, he might be able to win 15-plus games and provide really good numbers as the No. 3 starter.

New York Mets: Ruben Tejada, SS

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    There is obviously a massive gap at shortstop for the New York Mets.

    Jose Reyes has gone to Miami and he took his 2011 NL batting title with him.

    But that just opens the door for Ruben Tejada.

    If there was one real flaw with Reyes, it was his defense. He could make spectacular plays, but his range was questionable.

    Defense might be Tejada's best attribute.

    There's obviously going to be a drop-off between Tejada and Reyes, but don't expect it to be as significant as you think.

Oakland Athletics: Josh Reddick, RF

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    You have to wonder with Ryan Kalish's injury issues whether the Red Sox regret trading Josh Reddick.

    Acquired in the Andrew Bailey trade, Reddick seems poised to have a big season.

    Prior to last year, he struggled a bit in the majors. In 56 games over two seasons, he had failed to hit above .200.

    Last year, though, Reddick gave a glimpse of what he can do.

    In 87 games, he hit .280 with seven HRs and 28 RBI.

    Reddick is listed as the starting right fielder in Oakland, so you can expect to see him continue to put up solid numbers across the board.

Philadelphia Phillies: Vance Worley, SP

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    Much like Eric Hosmer, this one isn't a huge leap.

    It's not easy to gain attention in a rotation that features Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, but Vance Worley did just that last year.

    He came out of nowhere and finished third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.

    The question now is, has Worley even begun to approach his ceiling?

Pittsburgh Pirates: Jose Tabata, RF

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    Jose Tabata is far from an unknown quantity.

    He's spent significant time in the majors over the last couple of seasons, but he's yet to have that kind of breakout season like Andrew McCutchen had last year.

    Tabata seems ready to make 2012 his coming-out party.

    He's never going to hit for a lot of power, but he has above-average speed and can hit for a high average.

San Diego Padres: James Darnell, 3B

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    James Darnell struggled in his short time with the Padres last season.

    In 18 games, he hit .222 with only one home run and seven RBI.

    With Chase Headley ahead of him, playing time might be hard to come by early in the season.

    But the talent is definitely there. In the minors last year, Darnell hit .310 with 23 HRs and 79 RBI.

San Francisco Giants: Brandon Belt, 1B/LF

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    There aren't a ton of great breakout candidates for the Giants in 2012. Most of their best prospects are at least a year away.

    The best candidate has to be Brandon Belt, but the biggest problem for Belt will be playing time.

    He's backing up Melky Cabrera in left field and Aubrey Huff at first base. Cabrera had a good season last year for Kansas City, so Belt's best option has to be first base.

    His numbers fell off a bit in 2011 from where they were in 2010. Belt's a very good hitter who can hit for power and average.

    Again, though, Belt might have to wait a year before he sees significant time.

Seattle Mariners: Dustin Ackley, 2B

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    There seems to be a consensus that Dustin Ackley is a can't-miss prospect.

    He isn't much of a prospect any more, having played 90 games for the Mariners last season. However, Ackley has yet to have that breakout season.

    Expect 2012 to be exactly that .

    He started last year in Triple-A, but Ackley won't have to worry about that this year.

    Ackley can hit for average and give you good power numbers for a second baseman.

St. Louis Cardinals: Shelby Miller, SP

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    Going into 2011, Baseball America ranked Shelby Miller as the 13th-best prospect in the minors and the best prospect in the St. Louis farm system.

    It's not hard to see why either.

    In A and Double-A last year, Miller went a combined 11-6 with a 2.77 ERA, with 170 SOs in 139.2 innings pitched.

    Miller most likely will see time in the majors this season, but it will come at the back end of the rotation and possibly from the bullpen.

    The St. Louis starting rotation seems pretty set. Miller could slip in at No. 5 if Jake Westbrook begins slipping.

Tampa Bay Rays: Desmond Jennings, LF

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    An argument could be made to put Matt Moore in this place, but the starting rotation for Tampa is pretty full.

    More than likely, Moore will start the season in the bullpen, much like David Price did when he was a rookie.

    So that leaves Desmond Jennings. In 63 games last year, he hit .259 with 10 HRs, 25 RBI and 20 SBs.

    It's hard to believe that it seems the Rays have found an almost exact replacement for Carl Crawford.

    At 25, Jennings is destined for a breakout season.

Texas Rangers: Yu Darvish, SP

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    With the loss of C.J. Wilson, Yu Darvish can step in and become the ace of the rotation.

    Texas is on the hook for six years and $60 million, so it's quite a risk for the Rangers. Top Japanese pitchers haven't had the greatest history of late.

    Darvish is definitely a strong candidate for AL Rookie of the Year.

Toronto Blue Jays: Brett Lawrie, 3B

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    Brett Lawrie seems to be the complete package.

    In 43 games last year, he hit .293 with nine HRs, 25 RBI and seven SBs. When you average that out over a season, that's 34 HRs. 94 RBI and 27 SBs.

    His main competition at third base, Edwin Encarnacion, is penciled in at DH in the Toronto lineup. With the starting position all his, Lawrie seems poised for a breakout this year.

Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper, RF

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    This one might be a bit of a stretch for 2012.

    At only 19 years old, it's hard to see Bryce Harper seeing an extended amount of time in the majors. His numbers in Double-A (.256, 3 HRs, 12 RBI in 37 games) don't do him any favors.

    Still, Harper looks to have prodigious talent, and if Jayson Werth continues to underwhelm, Washington might pull the trigger.

    Plus, he would provide a nice attendance boost like Stephen Strasburg did.

    Harper, though, is probably a breakout candidate for 2013.