Projecting Which 10 Young MLB Stars Will Be Next Faces of the Sport

Chris Stephens@@chris_stephens6Correspondent IIJune 12, 2013

Projecting Which 10 Young MLB Stars Will Be Next Faces of the Sport

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    When you think of the game of baseball, names like Derek Jeter, Justin Verlander, Albert Pujols and David Ortiz all come to mind.

    However, these players won't be around forever, and MLB has already started the process of grooming the next faces of baseball.

    While many of these upcoming stars are in the big leagues, some are close to making the show.

    Here's a look at 10 players who are the next faces of baseball.

Yu Darvish

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    Yu Darvish is still relatively young, but he has shown he can be one of the best pitchers in baseball. Darvish dominated Japan's Central League before coming over to the U.S.

    In his time in MLB, he has gone 23-11 with a 3.54 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP.

    He's shown he has the capability to dominate for a long time, and I believe he will.

Bryce Harper

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    Bryce Harper is MLB's (and ESPN's) golden boy. Every time he does something, it becomes big news. While many people can grow tired of it, Harper has earned respect because he is a very good player.

    He could develop into one of the game's best with the way he plays.

    Some folks may not like it, but let's face it, Harper plays the game the right way at a high level. What more could you ask for out of someone?

Matt Harvey

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    Matt Harvey has already shown us what he can do this year with the New York Mets. He's gone 5-0 with a 2.10 ERA and 95 strikeouts.

    While most in the organization have higher expectations for the other pitching prospect (Zack Wheeler), we've already seen what Harvey can do.

    If he continues to pitch the way he has to start the season, he'll not only be New York's ace ahead of Wheeler, but he'll join the likes of Verlander and Felix Hernandez as one of the top pitchers in the game.

Yasiel Puig

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    I don't think any player has made quite the entrance into the big leagues as Yasiel Puig. And it came just in time for the Los Angeles Dodgers, as many fans were beginning to lose hope.

    Puig is an exciting player to watch and has obvious passion for the game.  Maybe it's because he realizes how much better he has it in the U.S. compared to Cuba.

    Regardless, he's batting .486 with four home runs and 10 RBI and giving fans in Los Angeles something to be excited about.

    If he can lead the Dodgers back into pennant contention, watch out.

    He's a gold mine waiting to happen for baseball.

Julio Teheran

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    Julio Teheran was once one of the top prospects in baseball, but he lost that ranking when he struggled to win a starting job out of spring training in 2012. Then, he faltered at Triple-A, and many outside of the Atlanta Braves organization thought not much would come out of him.

    Although Teheran had three rough starts to the year, he is now 4-3 with a 3.62 ERA and 58 strikeouts. He's commanding the zone a lot more and flashed his dominance against the Pirates (June 5) with an eight-inning, one-hit, 11-strikeout performance.

Mike Trout

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    If you didn't notice what Mike Trout did during his rookie season in 2012 with the Los Angeles Angels, then you missed a lot.

    Had Miguel Cabrera not won the Triple Crown, I believe Trout would have taken home the AL MVP award last year. Still, a Rookie of the Year and runner-up for the MVP is not a bad way to kick off your career.

    Trout is on an absolute tear once again this year, batting .297 with 12 home runs, 42 RBI and 14 stolen bases.

    He is the closest to being named an official face of baseball. It's only a matter of time.

Gerrit Cole

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    Gerrit Cole made his much-anticipated debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday and got good results. He was the top pitching prospect in the game, and his performance showed why. Cole went 6.1 innings, giving up seven hits, two runs and struck out two.

    While the strikeout numbers weren't as high as many would have liked, he still pitched well for his first appearance.

    Given what he did in the minor leagues, there's no doubt Cole will put up big numbers throughout his career.

Billy Hamilton

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    I have a soft spot for guys who can steal bases.

    When it comes to Cincinnati Reds prospect Billy Hamilton, there is none better. Hamilton set a minor league record last year by stealing 155 total bases across two levels. Now in his fifth year in the minors, Hamilton has stolen a total of 360 bases, including 40 already this year.

    I'm going to go ahead and say that Hamilton will not only break the single-season stolen base record held by Hugh Nichol (138), but he'll also break Ricky Henderson's career stolen base record of 1,406.

    Call me crazy, but I don't see either mark standing by the end of Hamilton's career.

Shelby Miller

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    Shelby Miller might be a surprise pick for many, but he's been one of the best pitchers in baseball this year. He is 7-4 this year with a 2.21 ERA and 81 strikeouts.

    He's been a much-needed addition to the St. Louis Cardinals rotation after Chris Carpenter's career basically came to an end with more arm trouble.

    The Cardinals have always had good pitching, and Miller is just another in a long line of solid pitching talent. But I believe he'll be best pitcher to wear a St. Louis uniform since before Carpenter and Adam Wainwright came on the scene.

Oscar Taveras

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    Oscar Taveras is another prospect to get excited about. He has all five tools and uses them very well. He hits for average and has a lot of power, as evidenced by his 23 home runs in Double-A last year.

    Taveras is just an all-around player who will do a lot of things really well. He may never win an MVP, but he'll continually find ways to get the job done.