These guys come out of nowhere—some highly touted, others unknown—but prospects can impact not only their team's outlook, but division rivals' fortunes as well.
What makes a prospect, in this
esteemed writer's opinion, are players who are eligible for the 2013 Rookie of the Year honors. According to Major League Baseball, this means a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, or accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the period of 25-player limit (excluding time in the military service and time on the disabled list).
The reason for this is because without strict rules, some would still consider Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown a prospect even though the 25-year-old had accumulated 433 at-bats in parts of three seasons heading into this year.
Of course, this also means we can't consider New York Mets sensation Matt Harvey a prospect in this exercise either. Harvey has been a revelation as the 24-year-old right-hander is 4-0 with a microscopic 0.93 ERA thus far. Unfortunately, Harvey threw 59 innings last season, going 3-5 with a 2.73 ERA.
- New York Mets infielder Wilmer Flores: With pitcher Zack Wheeler struggling (0-1, 4.91 ERA) and catcher Travis d'Arnaud out eight weeks with a non-displaced fracture of the first metatarsal, the bone in the middle of the foot, Flores is probably the Mets prospect who could make the most impact.
Flores has always been able to hit (.284 career hitter in five minor league seasons), and some believe he is the Mets’ most advanced top positional prospect and is a surefire major leaguer. However, he plays second base at Triple-A Las Vegas, which is blocked by Daniel Murphy (currently hitting .357), and third base, which is blocked by All-Star David Wright.
The only way Flores will get the call up is either through injury or if the Mets decide to promote Flores and move Murphy to first base to replace the struggling Ike Davis (currently hitting .164).
- Miami Marlins infielder Derek Dietrich: Middle infielders with pop are hard to find, but that's what Dietrich can provide.
Dietrich arrived in an offseason trade for Yunel Escobar, and thus far, he's hitting .274, has an on-base percentage of .430, and eight of his 17 base hits have gone for extra bases at Double-A Jacksonville.
Meanwhile, at the big league level, second baseman Donovan Solano is hitting .239 while shortstop has been a revolving door thanks to Adeiny Hechavarria's bruised elbow, which landed him on the disabled list.
- Philadelphia left-handed pitcher Adam Morgan: It's a weak system, but Morgan might be able to contribute this summer if given the opportunity.
Morgan has been effective thus far as he's 1-0 with a 1.42 in 19 innings (three starts), but how good he is depends on who you ask. MLB.com ranks Morgan seventh in the organization, Baseball America had him fifth, Baseball Prospectus pegged Morgan third, and ESPN.com's Keith Law believed Morgan is the Phillies' best prospect.
When southpaw John Lannan was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained quadriceps tendon in his left knee, many thought Morgan would be the choice. However, he would've been pitching on short rest, so the Phillies opted for Jonathan Pettibone. But since Lannan is out six to eight weeks, Morgan could eventually get the call if Pettibone falters.
Now, without further ado, in descending order, here are the top four National League East prospects who could make an impact at the big league level in 2013.