10 Young MLB Pitchers Set to Explode into Superstars This Season
By its very definition, the word "superstar" denotes a position of power and strength. In fact, Merriam-Webster.com defines the word as "a star (as in sports or the movies) who is considered extremely talented, has great public appeal and can usually command a high salary."
MLB pitchers who fit that description would include Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw, just to name a few.
But there are several young, up-and-coming MLB pitchers who threaten to become the next wave of superstars.
Here are 10 young hurlers who could be defined as superstars with a stellar 2013 season. Young pitchers are defined as being 25 years of age or younger.
A Quick Thought on Stephen Strasburg
Stephen Strasburg got his 2013 season off to a bright start with a three-hit, three-strikeout performance in seven innings in a 2-0 victory over the punchless Miami Marlins.
Strasburg will have no limitations this season after an imposed innings limit last year. If the Nationals are successful in defending their NL East Division title, he won't be watching from the dugout in October—he'll be helping to guide his mates to even greater heights.
While Strasburg fits the criteria mentioned in the introduction, there's just one problem: He's already a superstar.
Strasburg has been anointed as such ever since being taken with the first overall pick in 2009. It took him less than a full year to make his major league debut, and he was terrific both before and after his Tommy John surgery.
By the very definition of the word, Strasburg already qualifies.
Hyun-Jin Ryu: Los Angeles Dodgers
When the Los Angeles Dodgers set their sights on Korean pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu, they committed $61.7 million to the youngster's future.
With a $25.7 million posting fee and a six-year, $36 million contract, the Dodgers obviously thought that Ryu was well worth the investment.
Considering his effort in his debut on Tuesday night, they may not be wrong.
Ryu lost his first decision to the San Francisco Giants, but in the outing, he gave up only one earned run on 10 hits, striking out five batters without a walk in 6.1 innings. Ryu worked out of several jams along the way and wasn't helped by the defense behind him.
He will get a chance to earn his first major league win on Sunday when he faces the Pittsburgh Pirates at Dodger Stadium. At 24 years of age, Ryu could very well be a household name by the time he completes his first season on American soil.
Jarrod Parker: Oakland Athletics
When Jarrod Parker started his career with the Oakland A's last year after being dealt during the offseason by the Arizona Diamondbacks, few would have predicted the type of impact he had on his new team.
Parker was superb in his first full season, finishing with a 13-8 record and 3.47 ERA in 29 starts.
Although he lost his first start of the season against the Seattle Mariners, there's no reason to think that Parker can't surpass last year's numbers. He's a young talent with a high ceiling and could be a fixture in the A's rotation for years to come.
Wily Peralta: Milwaukee Brewers
The Milwaukee Brewers have a bright future ahead in their starting rotation with prospects Taylor Jungmann, Tyler Thornburg and Jed Bradley.
They also have 23-year-old Dominican right-hander Wily Peralta.
Peralta impressed last year, posting a 2.48 ERA in six appearances, five of them starts. Now firmly implanted in the rotation, he hopes to continue his development and give the Brewers hope in the NL Central Division.
Peralta features a heavy, sinking fastball that induces a lot of ground balls. If he can master the art of keeping the ball down in the zone, he could be one of the jewels of the Brewers staff.
Julio Teheran: Atlanta Braves
Julio Teheran will make his first start of the season for the Atlanta Braves on Saturday when he faces the Chicago Cubs at Turner Field.
Teheran won the No. 5 role in the rotation with a fabulous spring, posting a 1.04 ERA in six starts with 35 strikeouts in 26 innings.
If he can carry that performance into the regular season, Teheran will be a Rookie of the Year candidate and an instant sensation in Atlanta and the baseball world.
Trevor Bauer: Cleveland Indians
With Scott Kazmir headed to the disabled list with a strained ribcage muscle, the Cleveland Indians called up Trevor Bauer to start in Kazmir's absence.
Bauer, traded by the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Indians during the offseason, gets his first shot on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays.
He struggled somewhat during spring training, posting a 4.50 ERA in five appearances and striking out nine batters in 14 innings with four walks.
The talent is there for Bauer, and certainly no one questions the work ethic. It's a matter of producing at the major league level at this point. If he can impress in Kazmir's absence, he could give manager Terry Francona a difficult decision to make when Kazmir is ready once again.
Shelby Miller: St. Louis Cardinals
After a spirited battle with Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly for the final spot in the St. Louis Cardinals rotation, Shelby Miller gets his first start of the season on Saturday against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park.
Miller had a successful foray into the majors last September when he posted a 1.32 ERA in six appearances.
With the loss of Chris Carpenter for the season, the Cardinals are looking for someone to pick up the slack. Miller will do his best to be that person. Considering last year's effort and the high expectations, there's no doubt that he can in fact have a great impact for the Cardinals in 2013.
Jose Fernandez: Miami Marlins
With injuries to both Henderson Alvarez and Nathan Eovaldi, the Miami Marlins' No. 1 draft pick from 2011 will get his chance on the big stage.
Just two years ago, Jose Fernandez was pitching for Braulio Alonso High School in Tampa. Now, he'll take the mound at Citi Field on Sunday for his major league debut.
Fernandez is just 20 years old, but he'll be making the jump from Advanced Single-A all the way to the majors. He posted a stellar 14-1 record and 1.75 ERA in 25 starts last season.
He was assigned to minor league camp on March 13 with the thought that he could build up innings at the minor league level before his ascension to the majors. Those plans went out the window with the shoulder injuries suffered by Alvarez and Eovaldi.
The Cuban-born pitcher could be part of a very bright future in Miami.
Chris Sale: Chicago White Sox
Southpaw pitcher Chris Sale isn't quite yet a superstar, but he is well on his way.
After posting a 17-8 record and 3.05 ERA in 29 starts last season, Sale was the choice to be the Opening Day pitcher for the Chicago White Sox. It was a wise choice, as he pitched 7.2 shutout innings, allowing just seven hits while striking out seven and walking one.
Sale is picking up right where he left off. If the results are similar or even better than last year, the word "superstar" will be attached to his name.
Matt Harvey: New York Mets
Matt Harvey certainly pitched like a superstar for the New York Mets on Wednesday.
He was masterful, allowing just one hit in seven innings, striking out 10 batters against two walks.
He was impressive in his debut last season as well, posting a 2.73 ERA in 10 starts with a 10.6 K/9 rate.
Harvey has superstar written all over him at this point, and if Wednesday's game was any example, Mets fans will have much more to cheer about before season's end.
Madison Bumgarner: San Francisco Giants
It's hard to believe that Madison Bumgarner is now in his fifth season with the San Francisco Giants. The left-hander won't even be 24 years old until August.
Bumgarner is already a superstar in the eyes of many Giants fans. He posted a 16-11 record and 3.37 ERA last year in 32 starts, then followed that up with a huge win in Game 2 of the World Series with a two-hit effort in seven shutout innings.
Bumgarner started his 2013 season in grand fashion with a command performance, shutting out the Los Angeles Dodgers with just two hits in eight innings with six strikeouts and no walks.
If Bumgarner performs like that through the rest of the season, he won't just be a superstar in San Francisco.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.