While 2012 will be remembered as the year of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, the 2013 season will usher in a new wave of the game’s top prospects—a majority of them hitters. In fact, several of them nearly reached the major leagues late last season.
Blue Jays catcher Travis d’Arnaud was crushing the ball at Triple-A Reno before a torn knee ligament in June sidelined him for the rest of the season. Nats third baseman Anthony Rendon was on the fast track to the Show until suffering an ankle injury in the second game of the season. Outfielder Wil Myers blasted 37 home runs over two levels for the Royals, but was omitted from the team’s September call-ups.
Each of the aforementioned prospects is seemingly a safe bet to reach the major leagues during the 2013 season. The only question is how early will their respective promotions come? They all have enormous potential at the plate. No doubt. And with a strong spring, d’Arnaud, Rendon and Myers should each make a case for a spot on their organization's Opening Day roster.
Travis d’Arnaud, C, Toronto Blue Jays
Yes, the Blue Jays currently have both J.P. Arencibia and John Buck on their active roster. However, there’s a strong chance that one of them will be traded prior to Opening Day, especially with Travis d’Arnaud nearing big league-ready status. The 23-year-old hit .333/.380/.595 with 21 doubles, 16 home runs and 59/19 K/BB before suffering a season-ending knee injury in June. Before the injury, it seemed as though d’Arnaud would have been at least a September call-up.
The top catching prospect in the game, he’s above-average defensively with added value thanks to plus raw power and the potential to hit for a decent average. D’Arnaud will be ready for spring training where a strong performance should warrant consideration for a role as the team’s backup catcher or designated hitter.
Anthony Rendon, 3B, Washington Nationals
The sixth overall selection in the 2011 draft out of Rice, Rendon and the Nationals are in a unique position considering that he’s already on the team’s 40-man roster. Regarded as the best pure hitter in the draft class, the 22-year-old still has the potential to be an excellent hitter in the major leagues thanks to his advanced plate discipline, plus bat speed and bat-to-ball skills.
However, after suffering an ankle injury that sidelined him for most of the 2012 season, Rendon has now endured a significant injury in each of the last three seasons. It’s gotten to a point where they can no longer be attributed to bad luck. He did finish the year at Double-A, though the rust was apparent upon his return.
With the Nats’ first-base situation currently undetermined and Ryan Zimmerman’s shoulder likely to be an ongoing concern, there’s a chance that Rendon ultimately receives consideration at both positions during spring training—he may even get some love at second base.
Basically, it will come down to what’s the best way to get his bat into the lineup. But with a productive spring, Rendon has the ability to make the team’s decision a bit easier.
Wil Myers, OF, Kansas City Royals
Which prospects stands the best chance of making their team's Opening Day roster?
Arguably the top player in the minor leagues last season, Myers is fresh off a breakout campaign in which he hit .314/.387/.600 with 27 home runs in 134 games between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha. Given his enormous success, there were cries for a big league promotion throughout the entire season, though it obviously never happened.
In all likelihood—even if he mashes during spring training—Myers will open the 2013 season back at Triple-A Omaha while the Royals wait until May to call up their 21-year-old outfielder, avoiding a year of early arbitration in the process.
At the same time, it’ll be difficult to deny Myers a spot on the Opening Day roster following a big performance during spring training.