5 Prospects That Are Ready to Take the AL East by Storm in 2012

Justin KeithCorrespondent IMarch 12, 2012

5 Prospects That Are Ready to Take the AL East by Storm in 2012

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    The key to success in Major League Baseball, relies in part, to a strong farm system.

    While much of the focus in the American League East centers around big-name players signing mega deals with the Red Sox and Yankees, or around the young and talented Tampa Bay Rays starting staff, there are prospects ready to come up this season and make an instant impact.

    Every team has top prospects. Some become superstars, some never live up to the hype.

    There are certainly a fair share of talent in AL East systems, and stars ready to be born. Let's take a look at one prospect from each team who is ready to make an impact this season.

Jose Iglesias, Boston Red Sox

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    Much of the buzz around Red Sox's camp this spring has been centered around one of the top prospects in Boston's farm system.

    Iglesias is already an elite defender and he has shown, at least in camp, that he can drive the ball and be fundamentally sound at the plate.

    Hitting has been the knock on Iglesias the past couple of seasons, but his defensive ability was never in question.

    With the Red Sox shipping out Marco Scutaro during the winter, Mike Aviles and Nick Punto were the presumed platoon at shortstop.

    However, since Iglesias has been wowing his teammates in camp, he could potentially make the team straight out of spring training.

    Either way, Igelsias will get the opportunity to show what he's got in the big leagues early this season, and if he continues to play like he is right now, expect big things from this 21-year-old shortstop.

Austin Romine, New York Yankees

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    It became clear last year that Jesus Montero would not be an every-day catcher for the New York Yankees.

    Now that Montero is gone, Austin Romine can show why he was called up last year to handle catching duties instead of Montero.

    Although Romine doesn't have the same upside with the bat, he has raw power that could translate nicely at Yankee Stadium.

    Romine is also a very good defensive catcher with a strong arm, and if he can became consistent with his accuracy, he can become a tough catcher to run on.

    In 89 games in the minors last season, Romine hit a solid .279 with six homers and 48 RBI. However, he won't need to show elite hitting ability in a Yankee lineup that will score an abundance of runs. He just needs to manage the game and call a nice, clean game.

    Romine could cement himself a spot behind the plate for years to come with a strong showing this season, so expect him to showcase his all-around game for the Yanks.

Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Simply put, Matt Moore is a stud starting pitcher.

    Moore, a top player in the Rays' system since he was drafted in 2007, was called up in September of last season and earned his first big-league win against the Yankees. He also tossed seven shutout inning in the ALDS versus the Rangers.

    A hard-throwing lefty, Moore projects as a front-of-the-rotation starter who will fit nicely in a Rays' rotation that already features David Price and reigning Rookie of the Year, Jeremy Hellickson.

    I envision Moore taking home the Rookie of the Year in 2012, making the Rays' rotation one of, if not the best rotations in all of baseball.

    Before being called up by the Rays, Moore struck out 200 batters in the minors and compiled a record of 12-3 with a 1.92 ERA in time with both the AA and AAA affiliates.

Anthony Gose, Toronto Blue Jays

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    If you want speed, look no farther than Anthony Gose.

    The speedy center fielder stole 70 bases for Toronto's AA affiliate in New Hampshire and projects to be in the big leagues before long.

    While he hasn't spent any time in AAA, Gose already has a big-league ready arm and defensive ability in the outfield.

    With the Jays trying to keep pace with the big three in the AL East, Gose could be a midseason call-up that infuses energy and talent into the Jays' lineup.

    Although he needs to find some consistency at the plate, Gose will have his shot with the Blue Jays before long, and his speed and natural athleticism will turn heads up in Toronto.

Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

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    Machado is another stellar defensive shortstop who may find himself in the big leagues at some point in 2012.

    Machado, 19, was the Orioles' first-round pick back in 2010 and is considered one of the best prospects in all of baseball.

    While it may be a stretch by the Orioles to call him up for an extended period of time in 2012, they may need to infuse some young, high-energy talent into their lineup.

    Machado has all of the tools to be a great player in the major leagues including his great defensive ability and arm strength, as well as his timely speed.

    This year, and down the road, Machado will help the Orioles in almost every aspect of the game if he can become more consistent at the plate and learn what it takes to hit at the big-league level.