Projecting 2013 Stats for MLB's Top 7 Rookies

Ben Stepansky@@benstepanskyCorrespondent IMarch 26, 2013

Projecting 2013 Stats for MLB's Top 7 Rookies

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    Taking a look into the future to predict the 2013 AL and NL Rookie of the Year award winners is a toss-up. One of the seven players on this list would be a good place to start, though.

    In 2012 we witnessed the blossoming of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, and 2013 will feature talented newbies from many organizations.

    Jackie Bradley Jr. of the Red Sox, Aaron Hicks of the Twins and Travis d'Arnaud of the Mets all made a name for themselves this spring, but it's the following seven who have the best shot at the hardware.

    Let's project what each player's stat line may look like come season's end.

7. Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians

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    16 G, 16 GS, 81 IP, 6W-7L, 38 ER, 4.22 ERA, 80 H, 42 BB, 83 K, 1.51 WHIP

    The fifth spot in the Cleveland Indians rotation once seemed attainable for Trevor Bauer, but instead the team optioned him to Triple-A Columbus last week.

    Bauer, who came to the Indians via a three-team trade that sent Shin-Soo Choo to the Cincinnati Reds, was the third overall selection by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011.

    In 22 starts between Double-A and Triple-A last season, Bauer posted a 12-2 record with a 2.42 ERA and 157 strikeouts. He struggled in four major league appearances, collecting a 6.06 ERA in 16.1 innings, though he did strike out 17 batters.

    This spring Bauer has attempted to rework his lower-half mechanics due to a nagging groin injury from last year, all while attempting to make a major league roster. He recorded a 4.50 ERA in 14 innings of work this spring but will continue to develop down on the farm until his big club needs him.

    His quirky personality and extensive pitching arsenal will make Bauer a popular player once he is an MLB regular.

6. Oscar Taveras, St. Louis Cardinals

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    .282/.333/.445, 8 HR, 40 RBI

    Without an open spot in the outfield and the desire to keep him playing every day, the St. Louis Cardinals will likely reassign Oscar Taveras to the minor leagues to start the 2013 season.

    Has he earned himself a roster spot? Absolutely. Will he be up with the team this season? You can count on it. By the All-Star break? Wait and see.

    Carlos Beltran, Jon Jay and Matt Holliday will occupy the outfield to begin the season, but with two aging stars in the corner spots, Taveras is just an injury away from making an impact with his big league club.

    The Dominican native has shined this spring, batting .309 with two home runs and 10 RBI while slugging .456.

    He's also torn up minor league pitching, as proved by his .321 average, 23 homers and 94 RBI at Double-A last season.

    The Cardinals haven't been afraid to recognize Taveras as the best hitting prospect to come through the system since someone by the name of Albert Pujols.

    As Beltran's contract expires at the end of the 2013 campaign, Taveras should expect the starting job by the beginning of the 2014 season.

5. Dylan Bundy, Baltimore Orioles

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    17 G, 11 GS, 67 IP, 6W-4L, 25 ER, 3.36 ERA, 62 H, 22 BB, 58 K, 1.25 WHIP

    Dylan Bundy will remain one of the best, if not the best, pitching prospects in the game even as he begins the season in Double-A Bowie, as reported by Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun.

    If the fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft proves he can throw deep into games and continues to dominate the minors with his 98 mph fastball like he did across multiple levels last season, Bundy could see a call-up as early as mid-July to early August.

    It's obviously dependent on the state of the Orioles in the tough AL East, but expect at least a September promotion when rosters expand.

    Bundy's confidence wavered a bit this spring despite pitching his way to a 1.13 ERA in eight innings of work. He struggled with his control, allowing six walks, and failed to reach top velocity on his fastball, according to Encina.

    Pitching as an ace at the Double-A level should help.

4. Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    19 G, 19 GS, 108.1 IP, 8W-6L, 49 ER, 4.07 ERA, 94 H, 30 BB, 99 K, 1.14 WHIP

    The Pittsburgh Pirates reassigned Gerrit Cole to their Triple-A affiliate last week. Whatever the reason, be it financial cautiousness, contract issues or simply a lack of mental readiness, Cole wasn't pleased, according to Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

    One could argue he has a point. He pitched his way to a 3.60 ERA in 10 innings during the spring, striking out seven with a good 1.00 WHIP.

    However, the 22-year-old pitching phenom has not spent much time above the Double-A level, making just one start at Triple-A last season in which he threw six innings and struck out seven on his way to a win.

    Without much standing in his way in terms of a starting rotation spot in Pittsburgh, Cole could be up with the big league team in a matter of weeks, just enough to delay his free agency to after the 2019 season.

    Cole possesses multiple pitches, relying heavily on his high-90s heater and hard slider, which he used to throw 132 innings across three minor league levels in 2012 and post a 2.80 ERA.

3. Jurickson Profar, Texas Rangers

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    .255/.330/.420, 12 HR, 53 RBI, 20 SB

    Like many players on this list, Jurickson Profar is stuck in a pickle.

    Does the organization keep the rookie on the 40-man roster to start the season and have him come off the bench without consistent playing time? Or do the Texas Rangers send the the future star to Triple-A for an everyday role and continued development?

    Profar is an above-average middle infielder who should spend most of his career at shortstop. However, the Rangers are all set up the middle with Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler. Barring a trade, injury or positional adjustment, Profar will likely begin 2013 in the minors.

    The 20-year-old is a born hitter, displaying natural power and great plate discipline. A true five-tool player, Profar may make his way into the lineup come May, potentially forcing Kinsler to first base.

    However, the young shortstop has never hit over .290, hit more than 14 home runs or stolen 25 bases at any level. His MLB ceiling is high, though, so in time the numbers will come.

2. Wil Myers, Tampa Bay Rays

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    .289/.355/.489, 20 HR, 78 RBI

    After being traded to a patient Tampa Bay Rays organization that doesn't need his bat as desperately as the Kansas City Royals may have, Wil Myers should expect a major league call-up by mid-May.

    The 22-year-old has drawn comparisons to last year's AL Rookie of the Year, Mike Trout. They both proved to be superior hitters at each minor league level they played at. Hopefully for Myers, the production will translate to the big leagues in 2013, given the proper number of plate appearances (somewhere around 500).

    Between Double-A and Triple-A last season, Myers hit .314 with 37 home runs and 109 RBI. Needless to say, he is ready for major league pitching. But like they have with many players before, the Rays will delay his big league start.

    Let's hope it doesn't come back to haunt them come October.

1. Adam Eaton, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    .301/.389/.411, 10 HR, 55 RBI, 32 SB

    The truth hit hard in Arizona last Thursday with the announcement that outfielder Adam Eaton's rookie season will be put on hold for at least six weeks as he recovers from a sprained left elbow. 

    The Diamondbacks had Eaton slated to start in center field and lead off to begin the season, but we likely won't see any of him until mid-May rolls around.

    After hitting .381, scoring 119 runs and stealing 38 bases at Triple-A in 2012, Eaton made his major league debut in early September. He hit .259 in 22 games.

    The 24-year-old is one of the main reasons the Diamondbacks felt comfortable in dealing away Justin Upton this offseason to the Atlanta Braves. Eaton is a gritty player who will fit very nicely atop the order of any major league lineup. He's a good baserunner who takes solid at-bats and will get on base often.

    He hit .390 with two home runs and 10 RBI this spring before being sidelined.

    After some extended spring training and a short rehab stint, Eaton will return to the Diamondbacks for the remainder of his rookie season.