Highlighting Top 5 Prospect Performances in the 2013 World Baseball Classic

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2013

Highlighting Top 5 Prospect Performances in the 2013 World Baseball Classic

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    The World Baseball Classic is an opportunity for teams to showcase the best and brightest their countries have to offer.

    For teams like the United States and Dominican Republic, that means a roster that closely represents an all-star team, but for other countries the talent pool is not quite as deep or proven.

    As a result, it is also often a chance to see some promising young prospects play meaningful games against big league-caliber talent.

    Here is a look at the top five prospect performances in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

5. 3B Stefan Welch, Australia

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    MLB Organization: Pittsburgh Pirates

    WBC Stats: 3 G, 3-for-10, 2 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2

    Team Australia was not exactly brimming with talent this time around, but one young player who appears to have a bright future is Welch.

    He logged eight total bases and a 1.164 OPS in three games, hitting the team's only home run during their game against Taiwan.

    Welch hit .266/.339/.416 with 13 home runs and 64 RBI while reaching Double-A for the first time last season, his first season in the Pirates organization after spending the first five seasons of his career as a Mets farmhand.

    The 24-year-old has his work cut out for him if he is going to make a big league impact, but his strong showing in the WBC may open a few eyes and help improve his chances.

4. 2B/3B Jonathan Schoop, Netherlands

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    MLB Organization: Baltimore Orioles

    WBC Stats: 7 G, 6-for-24, 1 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 R

    The 21-year-old Schoop enters the season ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the Orioles organization and their top position prospect, according to Baseball America

    He's part of a talented young Team Netherlands infield that also includes Andrelton Simmons (Braves) and Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox).

    He held his own as a 20-year-old in Double-A last season, hitting .245/.324/.386 with 14 home runs and 56 RBI, and he should improve on those numbers in his second go-around in the high minors.

    As of now, he appears to be the heir to Brian Roberts at second base, and with Roberts' contract up at the end of the season, Schoop could set himself up for an everyday job in 2014 with a strong season.

3. SP Jameson Taillon, Canada

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    MLB Organization: Pittsburgh Pirates

    WBC Stats: 1 GS, 4 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

    Taillon is one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, ranked as the No. 19 prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America.

    He got the ball against Team USA in the final game of pool play and held his own against their All-Star laden lineup. 

    With a fastball in the high-90s and a biting curveball, he has frontline stuff and his strong start was just a sign of things to come.

    The 21-year-old reached Double-A last season for three starts at the end of the year, and that's likely where he'll open the 2013 season. A couple years down the road, though, expect him to be atop the Pirates' rotation with fellow prospect Gerrit Cole.

2. 1B/OF Chris Colabello, Italy

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    MLB Organization: Minnesota Twins

    WBC Stats: 5 G, 6-for-18, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 4 R

    Far from a conventional prospect, Colabello at least deserves mention here if for no other reason than to tell his story.

    The 29-year-old spent last season playing in Double-A for the Twins organization, hitting .284 with 19 home runs and 98 RBI. A solid season made more impressive by the fact that it was his first in the United States.

    After nine seasons toiling in the Independent Can-Am League, he finally got his chance from the Twins and he made the most of it.

    He won't pop up on any top prospect lists, but he's put himself in a good position to see big league action in the near future.

1. SP Hiram Burgos, Puerto Rico

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    MLB Organization: Milwaukee Brewers

    WBC Stats: 2 G, 1-0, 8.1 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 K

    After recording a hold in Puerto Rico's opening-game win over Spain, Burgos got the start against Italy in second-round action and picked up the win by going 3.2 innings and allowing three hits and no runs while striking out four.

    A sixth-round pick out of Bethune-Cookman College in 2009, Burgos enters the season ranked as the No. 14 prospect in the Brewers system, according to the Baseball America Prospect Handbook.

    He went a combined 10-4 with a 1.95 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 171 innings between High-A, Double-A and Triple-A.

    His future appears to be a bright one, and while Milwaukee has a bevy of young arms vying for rotation spots, he could emerge as a key starter for the Brewers in the near future.