Predicting the 2013 Topps All-Star Rookie Team
Every year since 1959, the Topps baseball card company has named an All-Star rookie team.
One player from each position is chosen to the team, and they have an All-Star Rookie trophy adorn their card in the upcoming set.
The 2012 All-Star rookie team was; C Wilin Rosario, 1B Anthony Rizzo, 2B Steve Lombardozzi, 3B Todd Frazier, SS Zack Cozart, OF Yoenis Cespedes, OF Bryce Harper, OF Mike Trout, RHP Yu Darvish, LHP Wade Miley and RP Addison Reed.
Predicting what prospects will have the biggest impact in the season ahead is always tricky, but here are my picks for the 2013 Topps All-Star rookie team.
Catcher: Travis D'Arnaud, New York Mets
2012 Stats: .333/.380/.595, 16 HR, 52 RBI, 45 R
The Mets made a tough call this offseason when they opted to move reigning Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, but they got a solid package of players from the Blue Jays in return.
Highlighting the package was arguably the top catching prospect in the game, Travis d'Arnaud.
He likely would have made his debut last season had it not been for a torn PCL, and chances are he'll open the season in the minors—but by midseason, he'll likely be the Mets' everyday catcher.
He has the potential to be a franchise catcher and perennial All-Star.
The same can be said for the Mariners Mike Zunino though, and he'll have to beat him out for the honor.
First Base: Mike Olt, Texas Rangers
2012 Stats: .288/.398/.579, 28 HR, 82 RBI, 65 R
A third baseman by trade, Olt is blocked by Adrian Beltre through the 2015 season, so he'll likely have to play somewhere else to make a big league impact.
An injury to Lance Berkman could open up at-bats at DH, but another possibility would be platooning with the left-hand hitting Mitch Moreland at first base.
With solid production, Olt could unseat the 27-year-old Moreland by midseason and earn himself everyday at-bats to show off his power.
Second Base: Jedd Gyorko, San Diego Padres
2012 Stats: .311/.373/.547, 30 HR, 100 RBI, 80 R
A second-round pick in 2010, Gyorko has done nothing but hit during his time in the minors, posting back-to-back 100-RBI seasons.
Once viewed as the future at third base in San Diego, the breakout of Chase Headley has changed things. It now appears Gyorko will be playing second base.
While his power would play at third base, it will be an even bigger asset at second base, where he could quickly emerge as one of the top producers at the position.
Shortstop: Nick Franklin, Seattle Mariners
2012 Stats: .278/.347/.453, 11 HR, 55 RBI, 64 R
After hitting 23 home runs and stealing 25 bases as a 19-year-old in 2010, all while reaching Double-A, Franklin appeared to be on the fast track.
However, an injury in 2011 set him back and he fell off the prospect radar heading into last season.
A solid spring could set him up to debut by midseason or earlier, and while incumbent Brendan Ryan is a terrific defensive shortstop, he brings little to nothing offensively.
Third Base: Ryan Wheeler, Colorado Rockies
2012 Stats: .351/.388/.572, 15 HR, 90 RBI, 56 R
Acquired from the Diamondbacks for reliever Matt Reynolds, Wheeler had a great season last year, making his big league debut last season with a 50-game audition.
Third base is wide open in Colorado right now, and while Nolan Arenado has the higher ceiling in the organization, he may still need another season in the minors.
The way I see it playing out is that Wheeler will spend 2013 as the Rockies primary third baseman before sliding over to replace Todd Helton at first base next year, making way for Arenado.
Outfield: Wil Myers, Tampa Bay Rays
2012 Stats: .314/.387/.600, 37 HR, 109 RBI, 98 R
It's not often that a prospect of Myers' caliber is traded, but the Royals desperately needed frontline starting pitching and they used the 22-year-old slugger to land Rays' workhorse James Shields.
He may open the season in the minors, but by summer he could be that second solid run producer the Rays have desperately needed to pair with Evan Longoria.
There are some holes in his swing, as he struck out 140 times last season in the minors, but his power potential is for real and he is a real contender for AL Rookie of the Year honors.
Outfield: Adam Eaton, Arizona Diamondbacks
2012 Stats: .375/.456/.523, 7 HR, 48 RBI, 130 R
With the trades of Chris Young and Justin Upton and the signing of Cody Ross, the Diamondbacks outfield will have a new look this season.
That will include Eaton, who is likely to step into an everyday role in center field and atop the team's lineup after posting a .382 OBP and scoring 19 runs in a 22-game big league audition last September.
He's never been a marquee prospect, as he was taken in Round 19 back in 2010, but after scoring 130 runs and swiping 44 bases in the minors last season, his future looks bright.
Outfield: Leonys Martin, Texas Rangers
2012 Stats: .359/.422/.610, 12 HR, 42 RBI, 48 R
A Cuban defector, Martin signed a five-year, $15.5 million deal with a $5 million signing bonus back in May of 2011.
He's seen limited big league action over the past two seasons, but following the departure of Josh Hamilton, he's the front-runner to win the starting center field job this spring.
If he can beat out Craig Gentry and Julio Borbon for the job, then Martin has the contact skills and speed to hit .300 and swipe 20 bases. He has decent power to boot.
RH Starting Pitcher: Shelby Miller, St. Louis Cardinals
2012 Stats: 27 GS, 11-10, 4.74 ERA, 160 K, 136.2 IP
With Kyle Lohse gone in free agency and Chris Carpenter sidelined indefinitely, the fifth starter spot in St. Louis is up for grabs.
Miller will contend with Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly for that job, and even if he doesn't win a spot out of camp, it likely won't be long before he has a spot on the staff.
Met Zack Wheeler and Indian Trevor Bauer have a good chance to see significant big league action, and top arms Gerrit Cole and Dylan Bundy could have an impact as well, but I expect Miller to put up the best all-around numbers.
LH Starting Pitcher: Tyler Skaggs, Arizona Diamondbacks
2012 Stats: 22 GS, 9-6, 2.87 ERA, 116 K, 122.2 IP
The crop of left-handed starters ready to make a big league impact right now is fairly thin, as Skaggs and Danny Hultzen are the top names, with James Paxton, Tony Cingrani, Martin Perez and Jesse Biddle on the cusp.
Skaggs was acquired from the Angels back in 2010 in the deal that shipped Dan Haren to the Diamondbacks, and he has moved quickly through the Arizona system since.
He went 1-3 with a 5.83 ERA in six big league starts last season, but he appears to have a firm grip on the No. 5 starter spot out of camp and should put up solid numbers.
Relief Pitcher: Bruce Rondon, Detroit Tigers
2012 Stats: 52 G, 2-1, 29 SVs, 1.53 ERA, 66 K, 53 IP
With Jose Valverde gone in free agency, the Tigers opted to fill their closer spot in-house this spring, and the flame-throwing Rondon appears to be the front-runner to land the job.
He's yet to make his big league debut, and has made just 30 appearances above Single-A, but he has the stuff to not only fill the ninth inning role but to dominate in it.
Like any young reliever, there are questions as to how he'll handle the pressure of closing, but he could very well follow in the footsteps of recent winners Andrew Bailey, Neftali Feliz and Craig Kimbrel to take home Rookie of the Year honors.
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