Each MLB Team's Most Encouraging Signs for the Future

Chris Stephens@@chris_stephens6Correspondent IIMay 22, 2013

Each MLB Team's Most Encouraging Signs for the Future

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    While most MLB fans live in the present, the future must also be taken care of.

    Whether it's signing a player still in arbitration to a long-term contract or a prospect tearing it up in the minor leagues, every team has shown encouraging signs towards the future already.

    Here's a look at each team's most encouraging sign for the future.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Patrick Corbin's Hot Start

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    The Arizona Diamondbacks have their ace of the future in Patrick Corbin.

    He's currently 7-0 on the year with a 1.44 ERA and 51 strikeouts.

    With guys like Ian Kennedy and Wade Miley already in the rotation, if Corbin can continue to pitch the way he is, the Diamondbacks will have a great rotation for many years to come.

Atlanta Braves: Julio Teheran Pitching Like an Ace

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    Julio Teheran had his struggles early in the year.

    However, he's been pitching lights out for the Atlanta Braves lately.

    Teheran is 3-1 with a 3.99 ERA and 30 strikeouts.

    What's helped is he's returned to what worked for him during spring training, where he didn't experience a loss.

    He's not trying to overdo it and pitching the way he knows how to.

Baltimore Orioles: Manny Machado Coming into His Own

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    Manny Machado is coming into his own at the plate for the Baltimore Orioles.

    Machado leads the league with 18 doubles to go along with 26 RBI.

    He brings a lot to third base and is someone the Orioles can confidently put in the No. 2 hole to set up the middle of the order.

Boston Red Sox: Clay Buchholz Becoming Team's Second Ace

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    Bobby Valentine not being the manager would have been an encouraging sign to put here, but that's a dead horse that's been beaten a lot.

    Clay Buchholz is becoming the Boston Red Sox's second ace with his performance this year.

    Buchholz is 6-0 with a 1.78 ERA and 69 strikeouts.

    He had an ace-like year in 2010, but didn't have the same kind of success the last two years.

    This year has been an encouraging sign and one the Red Sox hope continues in the future.

Chicago Cubs: Anthony Rizzo Signing

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    The Chicago Cubs realize Anthony Rizzo is a player they can build around.

    That's why they gave him a seven-year, $41-million extension this year, which will keep him around until at least 2019.

    Rizzo has shown he is dependable in the middle of the order and should be in that same spot for many years to come.

Chicago White Sox: Chris Sale Continues to Pitch Like an Ace

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    It has been since 2006 that the Chicago White Sox had a player pitch like an ace in two straight seasons.

    Chris Sale was the ace last year and is pitching like the ace this year.

    He's currently 5-2 with a 2.53 ERA and 61 strikeouts.

    As long as he continues to pitch this way, the White Sox can be confident in him in the same way teams like the Braves and Dodgers are confident in sending their aces to the hill.

Cincinnati Reds: Billy Hamilton Starting to Hit Better

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    Billy Hamilton had his struggles during spring training with the Cincinnati Reds.

    During spring training, Hamilton batted .192 with only four stolen bases.

    So far with Triple-A Louisville, Hamilton is batting .243 with 23 steals and a .303 on-base percentage.

    While the Reds would like to see his average and on-base percentage a little higher, it's encouraging to see there are improvements in that area.

Cleveland Indians: Balance in Lineup

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    If there's one word to describe the Cleveland Indians, it's balance.

    The Indians have balance 1-9 in the order, as all starters are showing consistency.

    Leading the way is Mark Reynolds with 12 home runs and 37 RBI, while Lonnie Chisenhall is the only starter with less than 12 RBI.

    That consistency has helped the Indians into first place in the AL Central.

Colorado Rockies: The Team Is Healthy

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    For the first time since 2009, the Colorado Rockies have had no major injuries to their stars.

    Over the last few years, it's been injuries to Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. This year, they've played in all but a few games, which is a large reason why the Rockies are above .500.

    The pair have combined for 19 home runs and 65 RBI.

    As long as they can stay healthy, the Rockies have a chance.

Detroit Tigers: Matt Tuiasosopo

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    Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander and Prince Fielder get all of the press for the Detroit Tigers.

    While Matt Tuiasosopo is a bench player that doesn't get a lot of playing time, he's made the most of the chances he's gotten.

    He's batting .364 with two home runs and 12 RBI. In the 10 games he's started, Tuiasosopo is batting .393 with a .500 on-base percentage.

    While he's still a year or two away from being considered a full-time starter, Tuiasosopo has shown that he could do well as one.

Houston Astros: The Draft Is Almost Here

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    Let's just call a spade a spade.

    There's not much to be excited about for the Houston Astros.

    However, the Astros hold the No. 1 overall pick and will likely select Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray or Stanford's Mark Appel.

    Whoever the Astros draft will be ready to start in the big leagues in 2014.

    Now that's something to look forward to.

Kansas City Royals: Good Starting Pitching

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    The Kansas City Royals used to have Zack Greinke.

    However, it's been a long time since they had three good pitchers like they do this year with James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie and Ervin Santana.

    While Shields isn't getting the wins, his ERA is still low and he's still getting a lot of strikeouts.

    Guthrie may be the most surprising, as he's getting his chance to prove himself once again like he did after being traded from the Rockies last year.

Los Angeles Angels: Jered Weaver Close to Returning

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    According to the Los Angeles Times, Jered Weaver could return from the disabled list next week.

    Weaver has not pitched since April 7 because of a fractured left elbow.

    Should he come back on schedule, writer Bill Shaikin says Weaver could replace Joe Blanton, who is 0-7 with a 6.62 ERA.

    Regardless, the Angels need some help in the rotation.

    My guess is they're wishing they wouldn't have let Ervin Santana and Dan Haren go during the offseason, despite their thinking they would be able to sign Zack Greinke.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Hyun-Jin Ryu Better Than Advertised

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    There were high expectations surrounding Hyun-Jin Ryu after the Los Angeles Dodgers signed him in the offseason.

    So far, Ryu has been as good as advertised, going 4-2 with a 3.42 ERA and 56 strikeouts.

    Ryu is signed for six years, which will give the Dodgers a deadly 1-3 in the rotation for a long time to come.

Miami Marlins: Christian Yelich Playing Well in Minors

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    Like the Astros, the Miami Marlins don't have much to be excited about on the MLB roster.

    Outside of Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez, the future looks bleak.

    That is until you see what Christian Yelich is doing in the minor leagues.

    Yelich is currently batting .310 with six home runs and 23 RBI for Double-A Jacksonville.

    While he likely won't be in the majors this year, his play this year could guarantee him a spot in 2014.

Milwaukee Brewers: Jean Segura Becoming a Full-Time Starter

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    Jean Segura is getting his shot in the big leagues with the Milwaukee Brewers.

    After playing in 45 games last year between the Brewers and Angels, Segura has played in 43 of Milwaukee's 45 games this year.

    He's leading the National League with a .353 batting average, with seven home runs and 20 RBI.

    His playing time has come due to Yuniesky Betancourt playing first base for the injured Corey Hart.

    Still, with the way he's playing, Segura might have earned the starting role for the rest of the year.

Minnesota Twins: Justin Morneau Returning to Form

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    Last year set the stage for Justin Morneau.

    Although the Minnesota Twins first baseman still missed some time in 2012, he showed a lot when he was healthy.

    This year, Morneau only has two home runs, but he's driven in 29 runs and is batting .304.

    For Twins fans, it's a relief to see him back, as he's finally paired with Josh Willingham and Joe Mauer to do some damage in the middle of the lineup.

New York Mets: Matt Harvey...Enough Said!

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    The New York Mets have a gem in Matt Harvey.

    While Zack Wheeler was considered the top pitching prospect for the Mets, Harvey has quietly gone about his business...well, as quiet as you can in New York.

    Harvey is 5-0 on the year with a 1.55 ERA and 68 strikeouts.

    While things haven't been going well for the Mets as a team, Harvey has given them hope for the future.

New York Yankees: Great Play Even with Injuries

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    The New York Yankees began the year with a lot of injuries.

    With Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter all on the DL to begin the year, the Yankees had a patchwork lineup to start the year.

    And still they played first-place baseball.

    Granderson is now back and the others will soon follow.

    Once Teixeira, Jeter and Rodriguez (actually, nevermind on Rodriguez) return, the Yankees just might run away with the division.

Oakland Athletics: Bartolo Colon Regaining Ace Form

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    The Oakland Athletics have a lot of young pitchers on their roster.

    However, the one pitcher that is performing the best isn't so young.

    Bartolo Colon is a former Cy Young winner and is looking good with a 4-2 record and a 4.31 ERA.

    While some wouldn't call Colon's performance an encouraging sign for the future, he's showing the young staff a lot about being a big-league pitcher.

    Although a ring likely won't be received for the fruits of his labor, the A's pitching future could be bright because of how Colon has led the staff.

Philadelphia Phillies: Jonathan Pettibone Part of the Next Wave

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    Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay have had their struggles for the Philadelphia Phillies this year.

    While Jesse Biddle and Ethan Martin are still in the minor leagues, Jonathan Pettibone is showing he could be part of that same wave of young pitchers.

    Pettibone is currently 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA and 21 strikeouts in six starts.

    He's not going to be an ace for the Phillies at any point in his career, but he's showing he could be in the rotation to stay.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Pitching in the Minor Leagues

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    The Pittsburgh Pirates have had a revitalization.

    It started last year and is continuing into this year.

    And that's all without their top two prospects in pitcher Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon.

    Cole could make his debut this year, which would be a nice in the stretch run.

    Regardless of when both come up, the future does look good for the Pirates rotation.

San Diego Padres: Health of Pitching Staff

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    Health of the pitching staff was a major concern for the San Diego Padres last year.

    In 2012, 15 different pitchers made starts for the Padres, with 13 of them making at least five starts.

    This year, the Padres have only had two guys outside of the top five in the rotation that have made starts.

    For a team that was looking for a little more consistency on the mound, that's a great start.

San Francisco Giants: Buster Posey Is Locked in for the Long Haul

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    The San Francisco Giants locked up their best player (Buster Posey) until at least 2022 with a nine-year, $164 million contract.

    Posey is the face of the franchise and someone who has helped the Giants to win two of the last three World Series.

    Knowing that he's taken care of, the Giants can now focus on filling in complimentary players around him, giving them a shot at the World Series every year for the foreseeable future.

Seattle Mariners: Hisashi Iwakuma Pitching Well

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    Hisashi Iwakuma doesn't get the same amount of respect as fellow Japanese starter Yu Darvish.

    However, he's done nothing but pitch great in his two seasons with the Seattle Mariners.

    This year Iwakuma is 5-1 with a 2.37 ERA, 61 strikeouts and a league-leading 0.866 WHIP.

    Like fellow Seattle starter Felix Hernandez, he's not getting the run support to earn wins, but he's still getting great results when he's on the mound.

St. Louis Cardinals: Dominant Starting Rotation

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    When Chris Carpenter went out with an injury before the season even started, some thought the St. Louis Cardinals would be in a lot of trouble.

    However, that hasn't been the case, as the Cardinals don't have a starter with a losing record.

    Four starters have won at least five games, with all having ERAs 3.58 or below.

    While the bullpen is another story, the rotation is what has the Cardinals in first place.

Tampa Bay Rays: Young Pitching Continues to Develop

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    You can't say the Tampa Bay Rays don't know how to develop pitching talent.

    After trading away James Shields, the Rays haven't missed a beat with Alex Cobb or Matt Moore.

    While David Price is struggling, he's also on the trading block, making the other pitcher's success more encouraging.

    The key will be how Jake Odorizzi fills in for Price while he's on the DL. A good slate of starts could encourage the Rays to move Price to help out the offense.

Texas Rangers: Mitch Moreland Realizing His Full Potential

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    After losing Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young from last year's team, the Texas Rangers had some major holes to fill.

    However, Mitch Moreland has shown one of those holes is in good hands, as he's providing a good amount of power and average at the bottom of the lineup.

    Moreland is hitting .289 with 10 home runs and 24 RBI, putting him in the top three on the team in each category.

    It's nice to see him realize his full potential, as most weren't sure if he would fully develop into the power hitter the Rangers knew he was capable of.

Toronto Blue Jays: R.A. Dickey Showing More Consistency

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    R.A. Dickey has had his struggles this year with the Toronto Blue Jays.

    After acquiring last year's NL Cy Young winner, the Blue Jays had a pretty good rotation (once coupled with those from the Marlins).

    However, Dickey didn't get off to the start everyone thought he would, giving up 10 runs in 10.2 innings in his first two starts.

    In his last three starts, Dickey has given up six earned runs, going 20 innings and picking up two wins.

    While the Blue Jays are still in a heap of trouble, it's nice to see Dickey starting to return to form even though the strikeout numbers still aren't there.

Washington Nationals: Jordan Zimmermann Propping Up the Rotation

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    The Washington Nationals have a dominant rotation that includes Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez.

    However, Jordan Zimmermann has been the one propping up the rotation this year.

    Currently at 7-2 with a 1.62 ERA and 45 strikeouts, Zimmermann has been the most consistent pitcher on Washington's roster.

    Since Strasburg and Gonzalez have had their struggles this year, it's been a good thing, too.

    Once both can return to form, Washington should have a rotation that will be good come playoff time.