MLB Spring Training 2012: Elite Prospects That Should Make Opening Day Rosters
Spring training is meaningless for veteran players. It is just their time to get in shape for the regular season. For prospects, it is their chance to show their team where they are at right now, and whether or not they belong in the big leagues on Opening Day.
Not every prospect is ready, even with a good spring, but it does make teams think long and hard before deciding what to do with them. Elite prospects are always going to get more consideration, because we know they are going to make it to "The Show" sooner or later.
Here are the players that are going to force their managers to make tough decisions when it comes time to set the final 25-man roster.
Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
Which Prospect Will Have The Most MLB Impact In 2012?
The more time that passes in spring training, the more likely it seems Harper will make the Washington Nationals' opening day roster. His manager, Davey Johnson, keeps telling everyone that he loves what he has seen and will give the 19-year-old every chance to make the team.
Harper made it to Double-A last season, and there is no reason to think that the Nationals won't give him a chance to play with the big league club this year. He does still have some work to do offensively, but he could start right away and hit 20-25 homers.
As long as Harper doesn't bomb in the spring, I would bet that Johnson forces the team to put him on the 25-man roster when camp breaks.
Trevor Bauer, Arizona Diamondbacks
Unlike Harper, Bauer is going to have to dominate this spring to make the Diamondbacks' roster out of camp. Not because he isn't worthy, but because their starting rotation is practically set. They have Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, Daniel Hudson and Josh Collmenter in the first four spots.
The fifth spot could be Bauer's for the taking, but the signing of Joe Saunders could be an indication that they want to give the third overall pick in last year's draft more time in the minors.
While that could be good for Bauer's confidence—he is going to dominate Double-A—it is bad for the Diamondbacks. If Saunders is the answer, the question is not one you want to be asking.
Bauer would be able to step in to that fifth spot, and put up better numbers than Saunders would. If he throws 15-20 innings this spring with 25-30 strikeouts, it is going to be hard to justify sending him down—especially since he is virtually a finished product.
Brett Jackson, Chicago Cubs
While Jackson has a lot of work to do with his swing to reach his full potential, he could be the best option for the Cubs in the outfield.
He has the speed and athleticism to play center field, which is where he has played in the minors, but might be put in left just so the Cubs don't have to waste a lineup spot on Alfonso Soriano.
Jackson has been on the radar for two years now, and given his success in Double and Triple-A last season, he could force the Cubs to give him a starting job right out of spring training.
Unlike virtually everyone else in the lineup, Jackson has good plate discipline and will take a walk. The new regime actually puts a premium on, you know, getting on base, so he could be their best outfielder by default.
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