10 Players Who Will Be the Next Faces of Baseball
Baseball has seen a new wave of superstars. Yes, the veterans like Derek Jeter and Chipper Jones are still playing, but Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg and Justin Verlander, among others, have shown that the new generation has arrived.
While the young talent has already made a name for itself, the next faces of baseball will be arriving sooner than you think. The next faces of baseball could easily be players already in the majors, but for this list, here are 10 prospects and rookies who could make that leap.
One minor league statistic that tends to carry over quite well is stolen bases. Vince Coleman and Rickey Henderson tore up the minor leagues, and Billy Hamilton has been outshining even them, amassing 148 stolen bases just this year.
Once he gets called up and becomes a full-time player (which could be soon since Cincinnati needs a leadoff hitter), then he'll be the next generation's speedster and will define the stolen base stat.
If there's one prospect who doesn't show up on Baseball America's top prospects list that I see being a great in three years, it's Brewers fireballer Tyler Thornburg.
The starter has little trouble keeping a K/9 rate of 10 and has a 2.66 ERA in his minor league career. As long as he's actually on the Opening Day roster in 2013, we could see some Cy Young-caliber talent out of Milwaukee soon enough.
Manny Machado's minor league stats on the surface don't necessarily look amazing, but what he has shown is the ability to be a five-tool player, and he's not even 21 yet.
He made his debut for the Orioles on Aug. 9, and Machado has already started hitting well. It remains to be seen if he'll move to shortstop soon rather than play third base, but for now he's already become the Orioles' best option at third.
The Boston Red Sox seem to have found their next great prospect in Will Middlebrooks. While he has been great so far, he could very well be a warmup for the next great Sox prospect.
Xander Bogaerts has been on a tear in the minors. The other two shortstops on this list have been hitting merely decently, but Bogaerts has regularly hit over .300 with power. With the lack of a star at shortstop for Boston, Bogaerts could fill that void sooner rather than later.
Jurickson Profar has a real shot at being one of the top prospects next year, if not the best, and is a shoo-in for being in the top five. The Rangers prospect is just 19 yet is already showing a myriad of major league tools.
Aside from his defense needing a bit of work, he could feasibly be a major leaguer in 2012, and his athleticism and charisma will certainly lead to him being the future of the Rangers soon enough.
It's been a while since we have had a catcher that we could look at as the face of baseball. Mike Piazza was able to pull it off, but having that kind of power behind the plate is rare.
Yasmani Grandal may be the next to pull that off. He's already hitting well in San Diego, which says a lot in itself. Starting off with two home runs in your second career game makes fans take notice, and he could ride that to stardom soon.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have a face of the franchise in Andrew McCutchen, and he is finally becoming a face of baseball and deservedly so with his MVP-type numbers.
Starling Marte could very well follow that same path. He was dynamic in the minors and has power, speed and defense all rolled into one. If McCutchen can break though having to play in Pittsburgh to become a star, why can't Marte?
OK, so Trevor Bauer struggled a bit in his first few major league games. Even the best of the best will have that happen to them, and despite that he is still tearing it up in AAA.
Bauer has a huge variety of pitches, and that alone will make him a big name in the future. Add in future great numbers, and he could be the next pitcher getting all the endorsements.
He's only in his first season, but let's face it—Bryce Harper is already fast becoming one of baseball's faces. Even back when he was referring to queries as clown questions, he had the media's eye on him.
That's half the battle right there, and now that he's producing in the major leagues, he'll quickly become a media star even if he isn't raking in the MVP awards.
One of the top two prospects heading into this season has not only taken the baseball world by storm, but has played so well that it will be robbery if he does not win the AL MVP award at this point.
If Mike Trout isn't the face of baseball heading into the future, especially if he keeps having seasons like this and avoids a sophomore slump, then I don't know who is.