Billy Hamilton's speed could be a difference-maker in a five- or seven-game postseason series.
Every year, the postseason serves as a platform for prospects to showcase their potential to a national audience. In 2012, there were numerous young players called up during the regular season who ultimately made an impact in October, including Jarrod Parker, Manny Machado, Avisail Garcia and Trevor Rosenthal.
But which prospects have the potential something similar in the 2013 playoffs? Here’s a look at four candidates:
Bruce Rondon, RHP, Detroit Tigers
After dominating at three minor league levels last season and recording 66 strikeouts in 53 innings, flame-thrower Bruce Rondon has a legitimate chance to open the 2013 season as the Tigers’ closer.
As the preseason favorite to repeat as American League Central champions, Rondon could be a potential force out of the Tigers’ bullpen in the playoffs. Regardless, he’s sure to be more effective than free-agent Jose Valverde was last October.
Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
The best pure hitter in the minor leagues, it’s unlikely that Taveras will open in the season in the majors. After batting .321/.380/.572 in 124 games last season at Double-A Springfield, the 20-year-old outfielder’s bat is dangerously close to being big league ready. Expected to arrive sometime around the All-Star break, Taveras has game-changing offensive potential and the potential to carry the Cardinals in a playoff series.
Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds
Hamilton’s otherworldly speed is the single best tool in the minor leagues; it gives him the potential to affect the outcome of a game in so many different ways. Throughout his record-setting 2012 season, one in which he stole 155 bases, there was constant debate as to whether the Reds should promote him to the major leagues.
Which prospect will make a greater impact during the 2013 postseason?
This season will be different, however, as Hamilton will reach the majors in early September—if not earlier. Given his absolutely elite speed, the 22-year-old has the potential to be a deciding factor in either a five or seven-game playoff series, even if it's only as a pinch runner.
Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
With no clear favorite to win the division headed into the 2013 season, the American League East is seemingly up for grabs. Despite trading right-hander James Shields this offseason, the Rays did net outfielder Wil Myers, who posted a .987 OPS with 37 home runs across two minor league levels last season in the Royals' system.
Assuming the Rays reach the postseason, Myers, who should reach the major leagues by June, could offer production similar to Evan Longoria’s in 2008, when he launched six home runs between the American League division and championship series.