(1) Bryce Harper vs (16) Hak-Ju Lee
Harper has seemingly done the impossible and lived up to all of the hype that has followed him since turning pro. One could even say that he's surpassed it all.
He slugged 17 home runs, splitting time between Low-A and Double-A—as an 18-year old.
He has it all. Power, speed, and a cannon arm.
While Harper is arguably the best prospect in baseball, Lee is one of the most exciting. He plays with speed everywhere, on the basepaths and in the field. He's an above-average hitter who's also a great defender.
(8) Nolan Arenado vs (9) Yonder Alonso
Arenado was the true breakout star of 2011, leading the minors in RBI before winning Arizona League MVP honors.
He was considered the heir apparent to Todd Helton at first base, but improved his conditioning and his defensive play last year. He seems a lock to stay at third now.
Alonso has been waiting years for his chance, but in Cincinnati he was blocked by Joey Votto. Now a Padre, Alonso should be given the chance to play every day. At his best, he's a hitter who's going to challenge for batting titles, while hitting 20-25 homers per season.
(5) Wil Myers vs (12) Jake Marisnick
Myers was the true breakout star of 2010, hitting a combined .315 with 14 homers and 83 RBI between Low-A and High-A. He wasn't nearly the same hitter last year, witnessing a decline in every offensive category while struggling to hit above .250 at Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
What is encouraging is the fact that he's already reached the level as a 20-year old.
Marisnick had all the tools, but 2011 was the first time he put everything together. He was rewarded with a career-year (.320, 14 HR, 37 SB). He's a year older than Myers, but played a level behind in 2011.
(4) Gerrit Cole vs (13) Will Middlebrooks
Cole has one of the most impressive fastballs in baseball, rivaling even that of Stephen Strasburg. He'll touch triple digits at least a handful of times each game, and he combines his blazing fastball with a couple of tough-to-hit breaking balls. He won't spend too much time in the minors, and could be leading the Pirates rotation come 2013.
Middlebrooks has had a solid career, and 2011 was arguably his finest season (.285, 23 HR, 94 RBI). In addition to his production at the plate, he's also been a capable defender.
(6) Martin Perez vs (11) Sean Gilmartin
Two of the top lefties in the game, Perez and Gilmartin come from entirely different backgrounds.
Perez was discovered by the Rangers back in Venezuela in 2007. Gilmartin had a stellar two-way career at Florida State before being plucked by the Braves in the first-round last year.
Perez gets the edge when it comes to higher ceiling, but he's never been one to put up incredible stats. That hasn't stopped him from earning rave reviews for his stuff. Gilmartin is much more polished, but survives on having control of inferior stuff.
(3) Manny Machado vs (14) Arodys Vizcaino
Next to Jurickson Profar, Machado is the top shortstop prospect in the game. His tools are a bit less impressive, but he should be a .300 hitter with 20 home runs annually. Defensively, he should be able to stick at shortstop, although if there's a trade off (moving to third for more power), the O's would happily take it.
Vizcaino, on the other hand has a less defined role. He's started in the minors, but with the Braves rotation being as crowded as it is, it might be easier for him to succeed in winning a relief role.
(7) Anthony Gose vs (10) Nick Castellanos
Gose is probably the top prospect in baseball that doesn't get enough attention. Speed has always been his trademark. He stole 76 bases in 2009 and racked up another 70 last season. Last year he also added some power to his repertoire, slugging 16 long-balls.
Strikeouts have been a problem for Gose, but that hasn't stopped him from reaching Triple-A in his fifth season.
Castellanos earned kudos as the top pure hitter in the 2010 high school draft class. He justified that belief with a strong 2011 (.312, 36 2B, 76 RBI) and earned his first trip to spring training this year. The Tigers confidence in Castellanos allowed them to move their other third baseman, Francisco Martinez, late last season.
(2) Tyler Skaggs vs (15) Starling Marte
One could make the argument for Skaggs as the second-best lefty prospect in baseball. He was the darling of the Arizona system before Trevor Bauer came along. His 2011 season (9-6, 2.96 ERA) was good enough to earn him the starting nod at the Futures Game.
He was at his best in Double-A, winning four of his ten starts, while striking out 73 in 57.2 innings.
Marte also made an appearance in the Futures Game. He enjoyed a breakout season (.332, 12 HR, 24 SB) and showed flashes of being an above-average everyday player in the majors. He's a sterling defender who could push Andrew McCutchen to a corner outfield spot.