Jason Miller/Getty Images
Jurickson Profar might start the season in Triple-A, but don't be shocked to see him in Texas soon.
One of the biggest keys to having success over a long season is being able to dip into your farm system to find impact players. Here are the top AL West prospects who can and will make a difference for their team this season.
1B Jonathan Singleton
RHP Jarred Cosart
Had Singleton not been suspended the first 50 games of the season after failing a drug test in January, odds are good he would have been called up around the All-Star break. As it stands, he will likely be a late-season call-up.
Singleton is the best impact bat to come out of the Astros' system, even though he was technically drafted by Philadelphia and traded for Hunter Pence. He has far more upside than Pence, with plus power and a great approach at the plate.
He does need work against left-handed pitching (he hit just .232/.307/.416 against southpaws last year), but he can pound righties and is very close to being ready.
Cosart has a great arm, with a plus-plus fastball and plus curveball. His command is below-average and there is violence in his delivery, to the point where he will likely have to move to the bullpen, but he has the stuff to be a closer.
Los Angeles Angels
RHP R.J. Alvarez
LHP Nick Maronde
The Angels have the worst farm system in baseball. They do have a few relievers who could play a role if the need arises.
Alvarez has power stuff to pitch at the back of a bullpen. He also has an ugly, violent delivery that will likely result in him breaking down eventually, so they might as well get what they can out of him now.
Maronde has spent most of his two seasons in the minors as a starter, though he did work out of the bullpen twice last season and could move quicker if he stays in that role. He doesn't have big stuff, but he can add some velocity to his fastball and get away with more in short stints than trying to turn a lineup over three times.
OF Michael Taylor
IF/OF Grant Green
Taylor has been floating around the minors for the last three years. His stock has dropped as his offensive profile has slowly deteriorated. He still has some power in his bat and knows how to work a count. He may not turn into a star, but he still has enough skills to turn into a solid everyday player.
Moving slowly through the A's system since being drafted out of USC in 2009, Green is finally knocking on the door to the big leagues following a solid season at Triple-A where he hit .296/.338/.458 and proved himself to be versatile by playing five different positions.
Even though there isn't a lot of power in his bat, Green does control the strike zone well and has enough bat speed to hit for a good average. He will be best served at second base, because he doesn't have a great arm or lateral range for shortstop or third base.
LHP Danny Hultzen
C Mike Zunino
The Mariners drafted Hultzen with the second pick in the 2011 draft with the idea that he would be able to move quickly and arrive in the big leagues around the same time as other top pitching prospects Taijuan Walker, James Paxton and Brandon Maurer.
Hultzen has a solid four-pitch mix that he can spot well and will use in any count. As long as his command returns to where it was in college—he walked 75 in 124 innings last season—he could be an early call-up.
With just 15 games of Double-A experience under his belt, Zunino might seem like a strange candidate for a quick call-up, except when you realize how polished all his skills are and how desperate the Mariners will be for someone competent behind the plate.
It would not be a shock to see the Mariners hold Zunino down for two months to keep his arbitration clock from ticking, but he is going to be in Seattle this season—barring injury, of course.
SS Jurickson Profar
3B Mike Olt
Most teams in baseball would have started Profar and Olt in the big leagues this season. Then again, most teams don't already have Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre at shortstop and third base, respectively.
Profar is the best prospect in baseball. His all-around skills and advanced approach at the age of 20 are remarkable. He is most valuable as a shortstop but could play second base if the Rangers want to put him there.
While overshadowed by Profar in the system, Olt is also ready to play every day in the big leagues. He does have a lot of length to his swing, causing him to strike out a lot and holding his average down, but his plus power will play right away. He is also a plus defender at third base.