Bryce Harper and the Fastest-Rising MLB Prospects Ready to Take Majors by Storm

Brian Belko@@BrianBelkoContributor IIIMay 4, 2012

Bryce Harper and the Fastest-Rising MLB Prospects Ready to Take Majors by Storm

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    When any part of an MLB team is struggling, fans are quick to call for the team's hot prospects to be called up to the major league level.

    It's not easy to watch a guy struggling game after game in the majors, only to see a prospect at the same position in the minors hitting the cover off the ball or pitching the lights out.

    However, Triple-A stats do not always translate instantly into major league success. That being said, here are 10 of the fastest-rising MLB prospects who would be able to immediately help their major league clubs.

Lonnie Chisenhall, Cleveland Indians

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    The Cleveland Indians are currently getting a great season out of veteran third baseman Jack Hannahan. Hannahan has done great, both at the plate and in the field.

    However, the Tribe has a hot-hitting young third baseman waiting in the wings in Lonnie Chisenhall. Chisenhall has competed for the starting third base job the last two spring trainings, only to lose out to Hannahan.

    While it does not make much sense for the Indians to replace Hannahan with Chisenhall right now, it is possible that Hannahan could shift over to first base to make room for Chisenhall if he keeps hitting at his current rate. The struggles of Casey Kotchman at first base makes that scenario plausible.

    Chisenhall is currently hitting .326 with four home runs and 12 RBI. He has limited major league experience, but may finally be ready to bring his impressive stats to the next level.

Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs

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    With the Chicago Cubs are toiling away in the basement of the National League Central division, prospect Anthony Rizzo may get called up to the majors sooner rather than later.

    Rizzo is currently obliterating Triple-A pitching with his .367 average, seven home runs and 24 RBI. The only reason he is not already on the big-league club is because of the offensive performance of current Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair.

    Rizzo's struggles against left-handed pitching might also be delaying his call-up.

    However, Rizzo has all the makings of a great major league hitter and Cubs fans will get to see what he is made of at some point in the 2012 season.

Christian Friedrich, Colorado Rockies

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    So far this season, the Colorado Rockies have not had a very good starting rotation. The best ERA in their rotation belongs to 49-year-old Jamie Moyer with a 3.14 mark.

    If the rotation continues to struggle, it would not be a surprise for the big southpaw, Christian Friedrich, to get a look sooner rather than later.

    Friedrich is currently pitching for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox of the Pacific Coast League and has put together an impressive stat line so far. He is currently 2-1 with a 2.59 ERA and 21 Ks over 24.1 innings pitched. It is also worth noting that he has only walked four batters and opposing hitters are only hitting .190 against him.

    If Friedrich continues to pitch at this level and the Rockies rotation doesn't turn things around, it would not be a surprise to see him in the major league rotation soon. He would join Drew Pomeranz as two promising young lefties in the rotation.

Drew Smyly, Detroit Tigers

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    Although Drew Smyly has already started four games for the Detroit Tigers, he can still be considered a prospect as he had never started a game above Double-A before this season.

    In his four major league starts, Smyly has been impressive. He has posted a 1-0 record along with a 1.23 ERA and 22 Ks in 22 innings pitched. Two of those starts were against the formidable New York Yankees and the juggernaut Texas Rangers, which makes his numbers even more impressive.

    Although four starts is not enough to make a judgement on Smyly's future, he looks like he will continue to take the majors by storm for the time being.

Alex Castellanos, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    With the way Matt Kemp has been playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers this season, the other positions are being somewhat overlooked. However, the struggles of several other Dodgers cannot be ignored forever.

    First baseman James Loney has been pressing at the plate all season and other guys like Dee Gordon and Juan Rivera are also hitting poorly. However, Alex Castellanos, the Dodgers' young third base prospect, might be able to help.

    Castellanos is currently tearing up Pacific Coast League pitching to the tune of a .366 batting average. He also has four home runs, 11 RBI and seven stolen bases.

    If some of the struggling Dodgers can't start to turn things around offensively, they may turn to Castellanos to spark the offense outside of Kemp.

Jarrod Parker, Oakland Athletics

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    Jarrod Parker of the Oakland Athletics is another guy who has made several starts at the major league level and seems poised to surprise a lot of teams with his pitching ability.

    Over two starts for the Athletics, Parker has gone 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA and nine strikeouts.

    Last year in the minors, he went 11-8 with a 3.79 ERA along with 112 strikeouts.

    With the Athletics thin in the rotation after trading Gio Gonzalez in the offseason, Parker will get an extended shot to stick in the majors this season. If he continues to pitch the way he has so far, he may just establish himself as a solid starter in the big leagues.

Scott Van Slyke, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    If the Los Angeles Dodgers don't turn to Alex Castellanos for offensive help, they could turn to Scott Van Slyke. Van Slyke, the son of former MLB player Andy Van Slyke, would be able to help the Dodgers in the outfield and at first base.

    After being named the organizational player of the year last season, Van Slyke has gotten off to a great start in 2012.

    He is currently hitting .340 with six home runs and 19 RBI. He has struck out 15 times compared to 11 walks and has an on-base percentage of .400.

    At 6'5" and 250 pounds, Van Slyke has the physical makeup to be a legitimate middle-of-the-order power threat at the next level and Dodgers fans should have a chance to find out if that is true sometime this summer.

Will Middlebrooks, Boston Red Sox

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    Boston Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks made his major league debut on May 2nd against the Oakland Athletics. He went 2-for-3 with a double and a stolen base.

    Before joining the team, he hit .333 with nine home runs, 27 RBI and three stolen bases at Triple-A Pawtucket.

    Although he may only stay with the Red Sox until Kevin Youkilis comes off the disabled list, fans of the team have to be excited about Middlebrooks' potential.

Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

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    Once the Los Angeles Angels released outfielder Bobby Abreu, the call-up of the 20-year-old Mike Trout was not far behind.

    All Trout did at Triple-A before being called up was hit .403 with one home run, 13 RBI and six stolen bases.

    The sky is the limit for the young prospect and he should stay with the major league club for the remainder of the 2012 season and have a chance to show what he can do against major league pitching. He certainly has all the tools necessary to succeed.

Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

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    Bryce Harper was one of the most highly sought-after players in the MLB draft in recent memory. The Washington Nationals made him their No. 1 pick in 2010 and the hype surrounding him has not let up at all.

    At only 19 years old, Harper is the youngest player in the MLB and he already looks like he belongs. Whether he is throwing line drives to home plate from the outfield or driving the ball at the plate, Harper has All-Star written all over him.

    Before being called up, Harper was only hitting .250 with one home run, three RBI and one stolen base. Since being called up, he has hit .385 with three doubles, an RBI and two runs scored. He has also shown off the cannon he has for an arm several times.

    If there is one prospect in the MLB already taking the majors by storm, it is the Nationals' Bryce Harper.