Spring is almost upon us, and you know what that means.
No, it's not time to go frolicking in the daisies in that meadow that you love.
It's time for some baseball.
The 2013 MLB season is getting closer and closer (I can smell it). There are several intriguing rookies who figure to impress in the real world and the fantasy world.
Whether it's a young right-hander who needs to be freed or a center fielder who blew up the minor leagues last season, there's a little bit for every fantasy owner this season.
Here's a look at my top-five rookies who will bloom in the 2013 campaign.
5. Gerrit Cole, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Gerrit Cole likely won't start the season with the Pirates, but he's shown the stuff in spring training to crack the club's starting rotation before long (maybe June).
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 MLB draft posted a 2.80 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 136 strikeouts in 132 innings across three levels of minor league ball last season. His mid-90s four-seamer can be devastating, but he needs to become more of a pitcher than a thrower before he gains the Pirates' confidence to be brought up to the major leagues.
4. Trevor Bauer, SP, Cleveland Indians
Ah, yes, the man who inspired the hashtag #FreeBauer last season when he was with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Trevor Bauer now has the advantage of playing on the Indians, where he is sure to be freed from the minors before long. It may not be right away, but you can bet he pitches in the pros early in the season.
I'm a big fan of Bauer (who isn't?). He posted a 2.42 ERA with 157 strikeouts in 130.1 innings across two levels of minor league ball last season. That included registering a 2.85 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 82 innings for Triple-A Reno.
Bauer's main issue, in my eyes, is that he tries to be too much of a pitcher. He posted 4.2 walks per nine innings in the minors last season. He needs to trust his stuff more.
3. Julio Teheran, SP, Atlanta Braves
Julio Teheran's stints in the majors the past two seasons with the Braves have not gone very well. In 26 combined innings, he's given up 15 runs.
But Teheran has looked impressive in the spring, allowing just two runs in 14 innings while notching 18 strikeouts. He has the inside track to a starting spot in the rotation.
The right-hander had a miserable 2012 campaign (in the majors and in the minors), but the potential is certainly there, and the Braves have been known to develop some quality pitchers. Teheran was one of the top prospects in the majors headed into 2012, and he's still only 22 years old.
Teheran has a mid-90s fastball with tons of movement. His changeup can be devastating. But before he realizes his potential, he needs to work on that curveball. If he even gets that pitch to average or above average, I like his chances to have a breakout season.
2. Shelby Miller, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
The 19th overall pick in the 2009 draft, right-hander Shelby Miller was brought up in September last season with the St. Louis Cardinals and responded by giving up just two runs in 13.2 innings while registering 16 strikeouts.
Miller's three-pitch arsenal makes him the favorite to grab the Cardinals' fifth starting spot over Joe Kelly this spring. He posted 160 strikeouts in 136.2 innings with Triple-A Memphis last season.
Many have the 22-year-old right-hander as a National League Rookie of the Year candidate.
1. Adam Eaton, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Adam Eaton was spectacular last season with Triple-A Reno. The 24-year-old left-hander led the Pacific Coast League in batting average (.381), on-base percentage (.456), doubles (46), runs scored (119) and stolen bases (38).
Oh yeah, and Eaton's expected to lead off for the Diamondbacks right off the bat as the club's starting center fielder.
Eaton isn't going to give you many home runs (he had seven last season with Triple-A Reno), but he could be a great bargain for batting average, runs and stolen bases.
Watch out for this kid. He could make waves in 2013.
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