Wil Myers has blossomed into a great run producer for the Tampa Bay Rays.
We're fascinated by the progress of MLB prospects because many of them will impact the pennant races in 2013 and beyond.
This presentation highlights many of the standouts and disappointments among farmhands this season (those who still had rookie eligibility entering season).
Each slide includes players who have exceeded expectations, as well as those trying to cope with injuries or generally poor performance.
Bleacher Report's own Mike Rosenbaum helps us summarize the improvement—or lack thereof—of each franchise's farm system. He ranked them prior to spring training and again following the trade deadline, so any numerical change indicates either an optimistic or gloomy trend for that organization's minor league system.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 3/8
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Matt Davidson, Didi Gregorius, Tyler Skaggs
The Arizona Diamondbacks acquired Gregorius as their shortstop of the future in a three-team trade last December. He demonstrated shockingly great hitting ability in the minors in early April, forced his way onto the major league roster and continued to rake.
He has predictably slipped since then, posting a sub-.600 OPS since Memorial Day.
Skaggs is racking up a ton of frequent flyer miles this summer, as the D-Backs have constantly shuttled him from Triple-A Reno to their starting rotation and back. The 22-year-old was deemed one of the organization's elite prospects prior to both 2012 and 2013.
Cody Ross' dislocated hip opened the door for Davidson to ascend to the active roster, and he's seeing significant time at third base as Martin Prado fills the void in the outfield.
A thoroughly dominant campaign from right-hander Archie Bradley has allowed him to leapfrog Skaggs for the distinction of being Arizona's ace-in-waiting. Spending most of this season at Double-A, the former first-round draft selection boasts a sparkling 1.84 ERA and 9.9 K/9 in 136.2 IP. If his command was a bit more refined, he might already be pitching in the majors.
The D-Backs passed up the opportunity to sell high on Chris Owings. The middle infielder is blocked behind Gregorius and Aaron Hill, but he's looking like an MLB-ready hitter in Reno, ranking among the Pacific Coast League leaders in extra-base hits and plate appearances.
Although initially dismissed as a throw-in from the Justin Upton trade, infielder Brandon Drury has rebounded into an offensive stud for the Single-A South Bend Silver Hawks. The soon-to-be 21-year-old will undoubtedly face more advanced competition in 2014.
Skaggs' performance has been very uneven. He owns a 5.12 ERA in seven starts for the D-Backs, and his results in the minors aren't much better.
Despite masterfully suppressing home runs through his farm years, he has been prone to surrendering them in the bigs.
Catching prospect Michael Perez showed promise in rookie ball, but his lack of plate discipline is now being exploited.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 22/22
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Evan Gattis, Joe Terdoslavich, Julio Teheran, Alex Wood
The janitor-turned-cult-legend Gattis caught fire during Brian McCann's absence and has since seen significant action at first base and left field. The sample size is tiny, but Gattis has been absolutely outstanding as a pinch hitter this season.
Many of us at Bleacher Report dubbed Teheran an NL Rookie of the Year favorite in March following an awesome spring training. He's living up to the hype, particularly since the beginning of May. The right-hander has lasted at least five innings in each of his 24 outings.
Rather than obeying public sentiment, the Atlanta Braves did not deal for extra starting pitcher following injuries to Paul Maholm and Tim Hudson. They simply used Wood to fill the vacancy.
The right-hander excelled in their bullpen and, if not for shaky run support, he would have been credited with four straight victories from July 30-August 16.
The expectations were for Gattis to provide replacement-level value, but he has legitimately strengthened the National League's winningest team.
Don't assume, however, that he'll start regularly next summer in the event that McCann leaves. Christian Bethancourt has excelled in repeating the Double-A level. Continually praised for his defensive prowess, the Panamanian catcher is now showing a more complete tool set.
Southpaw Sean Gilmartin made it to Triple-A in July 2012. He was supposed to graduate to the majors at the first sign of injury or inefficiency from a Braves pitcher.
Gilmartin appeared to be on the fast track toward a call-up, but he yielded a hideous 1.081 OPS against in a seven-start span. He then took time off to recover from shoulder tendonitis.
He's now back where he began, but he's unlikely to throw a meaningful pitch in this pennant race or postseason.
Nick Delmonico showed promise for the O's High-A affiliate...until he was abruptly traded.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 14/25
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Kevin Gausman, L.J. Hoes (traded), T.J. McFarland
The Baltimore Orioles dug deep into their farm system to trade for veteran pitching, and that largely accounts for their large drop-off in the farm system rankings.
Gausman immediately wowed us with his swing-and-miss stuff and surname, but he's back at Triple-A after struggling to locate his fastball.
As a Rule 5 draft pick, McFarland cannot be treated that way. The O's either have to endure his midsummer slump or designate him for assignment. This is the first time in the left-hander's professional career that he isn't getting opportunities to start.
Lanky left-hander Josh Hader was taking huge strides in his first full season (2.65 ERA, 1.28 WHIP in 85.0 IP). He hasn't yet learned to repeat his delivery, but few 19-year-olds have.
Baltimore built a prospect package around Hader to complete the Bud Norris deal.
Potential ace Dylan Bundy began battling elbow discomfort during the spring. When aggressive rehab didn't resolve it, the O's reluctantly sent him off to have Tommy John surgery.
The overpowering right-hander never threw an inning in the regular season.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 8/6
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Jackie Bradley Jr., Drake Britton, Jose Iglesias (traded), Brock Holt, Allen Webster, Brandon Workman
Bradley briefly became a very polarizing figure, playing poorly on a successful Boston Red Sox team that was staying afloat despite unremarkable preseason expectations. Webster found himself in a similar situation and didn't last more than a few weeks at the highest level.
The organization has shown a willingness to trust its youth, however.
Xander Bogaerts was deemed one of baseball's top hitting prospects after his 2012 offensive eruption. Competition in the high minors couldn't slow his pace (.865 OPS, 15 HR this season), and the Red Sox have rewarded him with a major league call-up.
Iglesias, a .135/.210/.203 hitter in bits of two MLB seasons prior to 2013, would become a staple on the left side of Boston's infield. He posted a .785 OPS for the Red Sox this summer—to go along with excellent defense—prior to landing with the Detroit Tigers in the three-team Jake Peavy trade.
The sample size is microscopic, but high school left-hander Trey Ball is experiencing some difficulties against rookie opposition. He has put on 13 baserunners in only five innings of work in the Golf Coast League.
Boston's hope is that Ball will steady himself by filling out his lanky frame and focusing exclusively on pitching after years as a two-way player.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 12/2
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Junior Lake, Brooks Raley, Hector Rondon
Lake spent parts of seven summers in the Chicago Cubs farm system before arriving in the big leagues, and now he's here to stay.
The longtime infielder has converted to left, replacing Alfonso Soriano. That goes to show how badly the Cubs want his bat in the lineup regularly.
The club has always been excited about Javier Baez, but his 2013 production is flat out awe-inspiring. He racked up 40 extra-base hits through only 76 games in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League.
Baez has done even better at Double-A, slugging north of .600 and continuing to make aggressive decisions on the basepaths.
The Cubs made the risky decision of trading for Arodys Vizcaino last summer, even though he had recently undergone Tommy John surgery. As a result, he didn't throw a pitch for any of their minor league affiliates.
Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago reports that the ligament has healed properly, but Dr. James Andrews operated on that same elbow to remove a calcium deposit. Should Vizcaino recover in time to participate in the Arizona Fall League, it would mean pitching professionally for the first time in more than two years.
Mere months ago, this team believed Brett Jackson was its center fielder of the future; all he needed was a bit more repetition at Triple-A to improve on his contact rate. In reality, his performance has only worsened, and Jackson finds himself demoted and falling way short of even matching his 2012 accomplishments.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 29/26
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Conor Gillaspie, Deunte Heath, Josh Phegley, Andre Rienzo
Although it's been five years since his MLB debut, Gillaspie nonetheless entered this season with the prospect label. Since opening the summer with a strong offensive month, he has looked clearly overmatched.
Gaudy power numbers from Phegley at Triple-A proved to be misleading—we're a full month removed from his last extra-base hit.
A strikeout artist in the minors, Rienzo has only whiffed 16 batters through four Chicago White Sox starts (24.1 IP). Overall, though, he's doing a fairly good job at replacing Jake Peavy.
Rienzo wasn't on anybody's radar prior to 2013. The White Sox would be ecstatic if he somehow survived in a starting role.
This franchise has an unhealthy obsession with raw-yet-athletic outfielders. Unfortunately, Courtney Hawkins, Jared Mitchell and Keenyn Walker do not bear the faintest resemblance to Bo Jackson.
Chicago probably regrets rushing Walker to Double-A following the 2012 season. He slashed .267/.378/.379 at the two preceding levels and now barely sits above the Mendoza line.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 16/19
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Tony Cingrani, Justin Freeman, Donald Lutz, Curtis Partch, Henry Rodriguez, Neftali Soto, Pedro Villarreal
One criticism of Cingrani is that he's too inefficient with his pitches, fixated on strikeouts and therefore exiting from games earlier than he would otherwise.
However, you'd be hard-pressed to find many other starting pitchers sporting a sub-3.00 ERA this season on the league's minimum salary. Opponents have batted .191 against the southpaw and he has only once allowed more than three earned runs.
None of the others listed above have greatly impacted the Cincinnati Reds.
As Bleacher Report's Tyler Duma explains, 2013 first-rounder Phillip Ervin is flaunting his hitting and baserunning tools while demonstrating excellent plate discipline rarely seen from a newly drafted player.
Ervin's talent has never been doubted; it's just impressive to see him thriving from the get-go.
Remember all that Billy Hamilton buzz from last year as he shattered the professional baseball record for stolen bases in a season? And how he should've been considered for a call-up and inserted as Dusty Baker's leadoff hitter?
Antsy as we may be to see the switch-hitting speedster with the Reds, the 2013 version of him doesn't seem ready to take the next step. Center field is still a relatively foreign position to Hamilton, while his on-base percentage has dipped about 100 points compared to last summer's.
Right-hander Daniel Corcino ought to be battling Cingrani for starts at the major league level, but he has abruptly slumped coming off three straight successful seasons. The soon-to-be 23-year-old is stuck alongside Hamilton on the Triple-A squad, largely because of his troubling 1.31 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 13/18
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Cody Allen, Trevor Bauer, Preston Guilmet, C.C. Lee, Danny Salazar
The Cleveland Indians offense has been wholly sustained by veteran players. Star-caliber hitting prospects like Clint Frazier and Francisco Lindor aren't close to making an impact yet.
Of all the above hurlers, Cody Allen is the only one to provide at least 20 innings of labor.
LeVon Washington played merely 13 games in 2012 due to hip surgery. If that alone didn't irritate him, beginning this summer in rookie ball presumably did.
He moved up in the world as soon as humanly possible by batting .486/.548/.946 through 10 games in Rookie Ball. In that brief span, the slightly built outfielder doubled his lifetime total with four home runs.
Now at Single-A Lake County, it's a long way away from The Show, but kudos to Washington for reviving a stagnant career.
Bauer's eccentricity is well documented. The Tribe acquired him this past offseason anyway because they envisioned the strikeout artist someday harnessing his advanced repertoire and leading their rotation.
Nothing suggests that he's anywhere close to a breakthrough. Bauer has issued 16 free passes in 17 innings pitched for Cleveland, and his whiff rate in the minors is substantially worse than those posted in either of his previous campaigns.
2013 first-round draft selection Jonathan Gray.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 18/23
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Nolan Arenado, Chad Bettis, Charlie Culberson, Corey Dickerson, Rob Scahill
The Colorado Rockies have found their third baseman of the future, and his name is Nolan Arenado. Regardless of what tweaks he makes at the plate, the California native will provide more than enough value with his glove to justify everyday duty.
Arenado has participated in all but one contest since debuting in late April.
Dickerson has been seeing a large share of the playing time in left field with Carlos Gonzalez on the disabled list. Although not a comparable fielder or baserunner, the 24-year-old slashed .371/.414/.632 at Triple-A Colorado Springs prior to his call-up. That's insane at any altitude.
You may recall that Culberson came to Colorado in exchange for Marco Scutaro last summer. His sub-replacement-level production since then confirms that it was a lopsided trade.
From 2010-2012, catcher/designated hitter Ryan Casteel had only six home runs (170 games). Expect him to keep binging on whatever the Modesto Nuts fill their water coolers with, because it has converted him into a feared power hitter (21 HR in 2013).
Trevor Story cracked the 2013 Top 100 prospect lists on Baseball America and MLB.com. After all, he had just posted a .872 OPS as a 19-year-old at Single-A.
This season is a much more forgettable one, however, as Story has struck out the second-most times of anybody in the California League. Although he makes wise choices on the basepaths, lack of plate discipline is preventing him from getting on regularly.
Right fielder Julian Yan made a name for himself in the short-season Pioneer League (.886 OPS), only to have his production plummet against more advanced competition.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 26/29
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Jose Alvarez, Avisail Garcia (traded), Hernan Perez, Bruce Rondon
Detroit Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski still has egg on his face from basically announcing that Rondon would serve as a dominant closer from the get-go.
However, Dombrowski appears more and more reputable with each passing performance. The pudgy right-hander hasn't yet surrendered a run in August, and for the entire season, he has totaled nearly three times as many strikeouts as walks.
And the Tigers seldom need to stray from their fantastic starting rotation, but Alvarez has been up to the task when called upon.
Spending the summer at Triple-A has knocked a few points off Nick Castellanos' batting average, but the Tigers don't mind. The 21-year-old is emerging as more of a power threat with a career-best 50 extra-base hits.
His progress has led George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press to question why Castellanos isn't yet on the active roster.
Corey Knebel has drawn upon his experience as the longtime closer at the University of Texas to humiliate the rest of the Midwest League. He's a merciless combination of unhittable (.154 BAA) and under control (4.43 K/BB).
The 21-year-old is destined to make a splash in the big leagues at some point in 2014.
Casey Crosby is fast approaching his 25th birthday and regressing on the mound. He's posted a hideous 6.2 BB/9 through 13 starts this season in Toledo and has not appeared in an official game the past two months.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 9/5
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Paul Clemens, Jarred Cosart, Josh Fields, Robbie Grossman, Brett Oberholtzer, Brad Peacock, Jonathan Villar
Contrary to popular belief, the Houston Astros currently feature many more second- and third-year major league players than emerging prospects. Cosart and Oberholtzer are two examples of those pure newbies who have latched onto the roster this summer.
Although Villar's complete stats won't blow you away, he's a super-athletic shortstop who can always be counted on to contort his body in some intriguing way to make plays.
George Springer is aiming to join a very exclusive list of players to amass at least 40 homers and 40 steals in the abbreviated minor league season. His combined OPS between Double-A and Triple-A is healthily above 1.000, making a September call-up imminent.
The youngest active player in any Single-A league is 18-year-old Carlos Correa. He has followed up a not-so-fancy debut season with an attractive power demonstration and improved strike zone judgement.
As of early 2012, Jonathan Singleton was the consensus top prospect in the Astros organization. This September could be the month in which he finally debuts, but the anticipation isn't really there right now.
A 50-game suspension for marijuana use began his fall from grace (his second drug policy violation). His mediocre .701 OPS at Triple-A doesn't help matters.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 19/10
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Donnie Joseph, David Lough
Lough was headed into a fourth consecutive season at Triple-A when the Kansas City Royals decided to give him a lengthy trial on the active roster.
He passed with flying colors and now starts on a frequent basis. The 27-year-old consistently makes contact at the plate and has proven himself to be unusually sure-handed in the outfield.
There isn't much left for Yordano Ventura to learn on the farm. That's evident from both his 10.4 K/9 and torrid stretch of five straight starts allowing one earned run or fewer.
Facing the toughest competition available outside of the major leagues, the Dominican right-hander makes the game look simple.
A fascinating prospect coming out of high school in Kansas, Bubba Starling is now the source of much head-scratching. He still sprints like the wind and realizes when to take on pitches, but his numbers have otherwise taken a tumble.
Likewise, outfielder/first baseman Fred Ford is struggling to imitate his offensive output from the previous campaign.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 30/30
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Buddy Boshers, Ryan Brasier, Kole Calhoun, Nick Maronde
This is what you're left with after trading away top prospects and forfeiting draft picks in order to overpay top free agents.
Despite extraordinary results as a starter in the minors last year, Maronde has been used in mainly low-leverage situations. He had a cup of coffee with the Los Angeles Angels in April, then came up for good around the trade deadline.
The 25-year-old Calhoun plays a lot of right field and occasionally spells Mark Trumbo at first base. For whatever reason, manager Mike Scioscia doesn't trust him against lefties, even though he owned them at Triple-A.
Mark Sappington still has a few things to learn about commanding his pitches, but there's a lot to admire about the right-hander's first full season. He's maintaining an above-average strikeout rate while preventing extra-base hits.
Kaleb Cowart's productive 2012 wasn't enough to elevate the Angels from the bottom spot in the farm system rankings. The former first-round pick's enigmatic 2013 certainly won't do the trick either.
The top prospect in the organization has the batting line of a reserve middle infielder and a bloated strikeout rate. A home run last week was his only round-tripper of the past eight weeks!
The only surefire everyday player the Angels thought they had coming through the pipe is now just as questionable as his peers.
Travis Witherspoon has held steady since last season in terms of contact percentage, base-stealing and power-hitting. He simply isn't squaring up the ball as well, hence a low BABIP and ugly batting average.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 20/12
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Tim Federowicz, Yasiel Puig
Hyun-jin Ryu has been nothing short of excellent for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Although this is his first season in the Western Hemisphere, Ryu previously pitched professionally in Korea and didn't spend a single day with L.A.'s minor league affiliates. For those reasons, we don't consider the 26-year-old southpaw a "prospect."
There isn't much that needs to be said about Puig. He's arguably the best athlete in baseball today. Even with all of his bone-headed outfield throws and overzealous baserunning decisions, the Cuban phenom provides All-Star-caliber value.
The Dodgers have constantly shuttled Federowicz back and forth between Triple-A and their dugout.
Julio Urias turned 17 this month, and L.A. is developing him extra cautiously (about three innings pitched per start). The lefty has 11.0 K/9 in Single-A action and has the frame to add more strength to his 160-pound body in the coming years.
Meanwhile, Zachary Bird has suddenly lost his ability to throw strikes. His sloppy delivery will need many months of fine-tuning if he's holding out any hope of being a starter. Good news is he's just 19.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 5/11
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Rob Brantly, Derek Dietrich, Jose Fernandez, Adeiny Hechavarria, Tom Koehler, Ed Lucas, Jake Marisnick, Marcell Ozuna, A.J. Ramos, Kyle Skipworth, Chris Valaika, Christian Yelich
The Miami Marlins evidently aren't worried about having their prospects skip developmental levels. Fernandez and Yelich both did, and they're working out just fine.
The Fish might not be the worst team in baseball this summer, but their offense—the only one with fewer than 400 total runs—most definitely is. Feel free to point fingers at Brantly (.225/.275/.284), Hechavarria (.232/.271/.302), Lucas (.239/.302/.301) and Marisnick (.203/.250/.253).
Fernandez entered 2013 as one of the very best pitching prospects in the business, but raise your hand if you foresaw an All-Star appearance and the National League's fourth-best strikeout rate in his immediate future.
Left-hander Brian Flynn could join him in the rotation at some point next season. The 23-year-old has been particularly untouchable over his past seven starts (1.51 ERA, .201 BAA in 47.2 IP) in the Pacific Coast League. Five of those were scoreless outings.
Colin Moran had an outside chance of being drafted No. 1 overall this past June. Evaluators raved about the North Carolina product's advanced approach at the plate.
The third baseman did indeed reach base five times in his first three professional games with a pair of extra-base hits. Unfortunately, Moran hasn't been a huge factor for the Greensboro Grasshoppers since.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 27/24
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Jeff Bianchi, Hiram Burgos, Khris Davis, Scooter Gennett, Donovan Hand, Johnny Hellweg, Jim Henderson, Wily Peralta, Logan Schafer, Tyler Thornburg
Peralta has sputtered for much of the summer, though there have been glimpses of magnificence from the right-hander. All in all, his 4.60 earned run average in the bigs isn't significantly better or worse than what was anticipated.
In place of Ryan Braun (suspension) and Rickie Weeks (hamstring), Davis and Gennett have quietly had great success. Too bad they didn't see more playing time earlier in the year.
Merely a handful of MLB relievers have stacked up to the 30-year-old Henderson this season. He boasts a 1.79 ERA and 1.06 WHIP, with the majority of his appearances coming at hitter-friendly Miller Park.
Those who have attempted swinging from the right side against him have managed an anemic .160/.233/.202 batting line.
Milwaukee used a combination of Yuniesky Betancourt and Alex Gonzalez at first base for several months. Then, the front office traded for Juan Francisco, who's under team control through 2017.
All that attests to how underwhelmed the Brewers are with Hunter Morris. As if unaware of his own powerful reputation, the 24-year-old doesn't have any plate discipline.
Following a breakout 2012 campaign (.303/.357/.563, 28 HR), Triple-A pitching has diminished him into a below-average hitter (.232/.296/.442).
Byron Buxton, baseball's consensus top prospect.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 11/1
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Andrew Albers, Kyle Gibson, Chris Herrmann, Aaron Hicks, Caleb Thielbar
Hicks seized the center fielder's job during the spring, flaunting a powerful bat and electrifying defensive abilities. But he struggled mightily and was demoted to Triple-A early this month after suffering through a terrible three-week slump.
Outside of him, the most fascinating individual has to be the 26-year-old Thielbar. On this date just two years ago, he was working in an independent league.
In his professional debut, Byron Buxton turned heads with his exceptional athletic gifts, but his actual performance—.248/.344/.448, 5 HR, 11 SB in 48 G—didn't equate to superstardom.
His 2013, however, is the epitome of a breakout performance. Buxton has demonstrated the bat speed and defensive awareness of a natural, rather than a long-term project.
The Minnesota Twins promoted Thielbar after six ordinary weeks at Triple-A. He has since been near-untouchable in their bullpen, the highlight being nine consecutive hitless appearances from June through early July.
This has been the first season in which Albers is exclusively pitching as a starter. At this rate, it certainly won't be the last. He owned the International League with a 2.86 ERA and three complete games. The rookie left-hander hasn't fooled quite as many MLB bats, but through three outings, you can't do much better than a 1.85 ERA.
Two quality starts in nine tries for Gibson and a .192/.259/.339 batting line for Hicks.
Whichever way you slice it, these two have had inauspicious starts to their MLB careers. We've witnessed only fleeting glimpses of their All-Star-caliber talent.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 10/16
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Robert Carson, Travis d'Arnaud, Jeurys Familia, Wilmer Flores, Juan Lagares, Scott Rice, Josh Satin, Zack Wheeler
The birth of John Buck's child finally gave the New York Mets an excuse to promote d'Arnaud, the centerpiece of the package they received for R.A. Dickey. He has spent most of 2013 rehabbing from a foot injury, but the backstop has demonstrated excellent plate discipline and defensive ability in limited playing time.
Wheeler is gradually learning to harness his exceptionally pure repertoire. As he expands on last year's workload, there's a strong possibility of him spending the entire 2014 campaign in the Mets rotation.
Flores and Lagares already find themselves in everyday roles. The former is known primarily for his hitting prowess, while Lagares is quietly emerging as one of baseball's top fielders. He unfortunately doesn't reach base often enough to justify a spot near the top of the lineup.
Rice, a lefty specialist, waited nearly a decade-and-a-half into his professional career to pitch in the majors. Manager Terry Collins hasn't shied away from leaning on the 31-year-old rookie, who's battling for the MLB lead in appearances.
New York's center fielders were anemic at the plate prior to Lagares' promotion. He has a tendency to get over-anxious in high-leverage situations, but the 24-year-old is nonetheless helping more than expected.
Luis Mateo racked up 165 strikeouts versus just 14 walks in his first 25 starts for the organization.
Alas, the recurrence of elbow issues that voided his 2008 contract with the San Francisco Giants forced him to undergo Tommy John surgery in June. He'll be rehabbing through at least the midway point of 2014.
We can also consider Carson an underachiever considering his seemingly smooth transition to relief work last year. After serving up eight home runs through only 18 innings this summer, Carson was demoted to Triple-A, where his struggles have continued. His future with the franchise appears to be very much up in the air.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 21/14
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: David Adams, Dellin Betances, Preston Claiborne, Corban Joseph, Austin Romine, Adam Warren
More inexperienced players than we're accustomed to seeing on the New York Yankees roster, but the sheer number of them is deceiving. Betances, Claiborne and Warren are all middle relievers, and the others aren't seen as anything more than reserves.
Claiborne surrendered only one run through his first 15 appearances with the 2013 Bombers, issuing just one walk in that stretch.
The 25-year-old, of course, isn't considered a candidate to replace Mariano Rivera at closer, but he has proven himself worthy of placement on the the 12-man pitching staff.
Dante Bichette Jr. has pedigree on his side, as his All-Star father established himself as a great run-producer during his prime years with the Colorado Rockies.
The younger Bichette batted only .248/.322/.331 in 2012, but he did so as one of the youngest players in the entire Southern Atlantic League. Seeing him drop in each of the triple-slash categories and strike out more frequently as he repeats the level is certainly worrisome.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 24/20
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Nate Freiman, Sonny Gray, Grant Green (traded)
Bartolo Colon's latest stint on the DL means that Gray will stick in the starting rotation indefinitely.
The Oakland Athletics will be fine with that so long as he stays true to the plan that has led to so much 2013 success: bombarding batters with strikes early in the count and low in the zone. His stuff will take care of the rest.
Claiming Freiman off waivers in March turned out to be a fantastic decision. He's been an ideal platoon partner for Brandon Moss at first base.
As the sixth high school player taken in the 2012 draft, Addison Russell is understandably being held under the microscope this summer.
Still, did anyone reasonably expect the only teenager in the entire California League to be one of its most effective players? The Florida native is an extra-base-hit machine who has been erasing any doubt about his long-term viability and skill at shortstop.
Vicmal De La Cruz is trending in the completely wrong direction. He has abandoned the plate discipline and "hit 'em where they ain't" offensive mentality that put him on the map a couple seasons ago. There's rarely any reason to panic about a player who's only 19, but it would be a shame if this potential top-of-the-lineup catalyst flopped.
Infielder Michael Head couldn't quite solve Double-A last year and failed miserably when attempting it again in 2013 (.196/.264/.264, 42 K in 163 PA).
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 23/17
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Cody Asche, Tyler Cloyd, Steven Lerud, Jonathan Pettibone, Darin Ruf, Steve Susdorf
Among these Philadelphia Phillies, Ruf comes closest to being a household name. Prolific slugging in the high minors earned him a call-up at age 26, and his .904 OPS for the 2013 Phils is absolutely nothing to scoff at.
Injuries have thinned out the starting rotation this season, but Cloyd and Pettibone filling in seamlessly. The next step for those two is staying on the mound into the later innings and generating more swings and misses.
Asche obviously did very well for himself to ascend to the active roster, although his bat has been slow to adjust to MLB pitching.
Indeed, J.P. Crawford is the cousin of equally speedy Carl Crawford. Philly's first-round pick in June, the shortstop's production is already marvelous.
Crawford has been promoted to Low-A Lakweood thanks to a .345/.443/.465 batting line and a dozen stolen bases.
It's been a complicated road to recovery for Tommy Joseph. He hasn't yet moved on from a concussion he suffered in May, and his 2013 campaign is done after only 36 games.
Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the 22-year-old could be forced to change positions to prevent any unwanted recurrences. Acquired from the San Francisco Giants in the Hunter Pence swap, the backstop gained some Triple-A experience this summer. But all of his progress will be for naught if he doesn't eventually turn the corner.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 1/4
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Vic Black, Gerrit Cole, Brandon Cumpton, Phil Irwin, Tony Sanchez
Cole has started his MLB career on a positive note with a 3.88 ERA and 1.14 WHIP through 72 innings; it's just bizarre to see him doing it with virtually the same pedestrian strikeout rate as 41-year-old Andy Pettitte. That will change as he gains more confidence in his secondary pitches.
Cumpton and Irwin have made their major league debuts as spot starters for the Pirates.
Right-hander Nick Kingham has long been viewed as a future starter, and his 2013 excellence is further evidence that he belongs in the rotation. The 21-year-old has averaged nearly one strikeout per inning across two levels of competition.
Stuff-wise, Kingham isn't Cole or even Jameson Taillon, but he's awfully close.
The Bucs have a knack for great first-round selections in the amateur draft. Recent examples include Neil Walker (2004), Andrew McCutchen (2005) Pedro Alvarez (2008) and Cole (2011).
Catcher Tony Sanchez, unfortunately, serves as an exception. He has slugged above .500 in the minors this season, but he's mustered only two doubles in 13 big league contests.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 17/7
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Brad Boxberger, Jaff Decker, Jedd Gyorko, Tommy Layne
Like many prospects before him and many who will come after him, Gyorko struggled through an initial adjustment period. Although he was a prolific slugger in the minors, the 24-year-old didn't bump his OPS above .750 until May.
Gyorko is striking out frequently and hitting more doubles than home runs, but his production is still well above replacement level.
Reymond Fuentes is about to match last season's steals total while outdoing his 2012 self by every other measure. He has played his best baseball since an August promotion to Triple-A, where he's consistently batting leadoff.
The most important thing is that Donavan Tate has moved beyond his past substance abuse issues and rediscovered the inner-fire to compete, according to MLB.com's Corey Brock.
With that said, it's been somewhat of a lost season for the 22-year-old outfielder and former No. 3 overall pick. He has played only 10 contests in 2013.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 28/27
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Michael Kickham, Roger Kieschnick, Nick Noonan, Juan Perez, Eric Surkamp
Noonan cracked the Opening Day roster and actually recorded some timely hits during the first few weeks of the season. Alas, he faded shortly after and the San Francisco Giants demoted him indefinitely at the All-Star break (.491 OPS).
Kickham and Surkamp have both received opportunities to buff up a mediocre starting rotation, but allowed eight HRs and combined for a 12.23 earned run average in only six appearances.
In his first taste of the High-A level, Kyle Crick has devoured his competition with a 1.75 ERA overall. Four of his 12 starts this summer have included double-digit strikeouts.
Crick's walk rate will need to improve in the coming years if he intends to star in the Bay Area, but a plus fastball contributes to his 12.5 K/9. Missing that many bats will minimize the consequences of his mistakes.
Although he was a great slugger in the minors, Kieschnick has totaled only one extra-base hit through 56 MLB plate appearances. His .245/.339/.286 batting line with the Giants pales in comparison to his .285/.353/.537 production in parts of two seasons at Triple-A.
Mike Zunino skyrocketed through Seattle's farm system.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 4/9
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Carter Capps, Danny Farquhar, Nick Franklin, Brandon Maurer, Yoervis Medina, Brad Miller, Mike Zunino
When the Seattle Mariners configured their 2013 roster, they did so assuming that Jesus Montero and Brendan Ryan would rebound from shaky offensive seasons. In reality, those two lost everyday-player status after their slumps worsened.
Seattle's front office, desperate to give fans some hope to cling to, recalled Franklin and Zunino from Triple-A. The latter has since undergone surgery to repair a broken hamate bone in the hand.
Seattle had homegrown bodies to fill out the pitching staff, but milking solid performances from them hasn't quite gone as planned.
Medina has blossomed into an ace reliever. He leads the M's bullpen in innings pitched, and when accounting for all the intentional walks, we see that his command isn't that much of an issue.
The 25-year-old is surprisingly tough on left-handed batters. Only Justin Morneau has exploited the platoon advantage to take him deep.
Peripheral stats suggest that Capps will be fine. So far this summer, he's been the victim of an extremely unlucky home run rate. Being more precise with his fastball location could be crucial for him moving forward.
Seattle snagged Leon Landry from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Brandon League trade. Considering how poorly League has fared for L.A., the M's should feel content with whatever production they get from the undersized Louisiana native at the plate.
It's just frustrating when a player slashes .341/.371/.584 in a season, then takes a dramatic turn for the worse following a promotion. Landry will almost certainly need to repeat Double-A.
After being selected No. 2 overall in the 2011 amateur draft, Danny Hultzen was fast-tracked to the majors. In fact, he was actually widely expected to be in The Show by now.
Left shoulder soreness is to blame for the delay, as he has had just five starts in Triple-A Tacoma this year.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 2/3
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Matt Adams, Pete Kozma, Carlos Martinez, Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Michael Wacha
It's impossible to overstate how effectively the St. Louis Cardinals prepare their prospects for the bright lights.
You might have difficulty believing that Kozma, Miller and Rosenthal all entered 2013 with their rookie eligibility intact. Those three were huge influences last September and into the playoffs.
Adams could probably serve as the regular first baseman for about half of the MLB teams. With the Cards, however, he has found a nice niche as a pinch hitter.
The St. Louis bullpen was a glaring weakness earlier this summer. Rosenthal and Edward Mujica rightfully receive plenty of credit for solidifying the later innings, but Seth Maness and Kevin Siegrist get overlooked all too often.
The latter always tries to blow pitches by his opposition, while Maness is a control artist. He has issued only three unintentional walks all season!
Dominican outfielder Oscar Taveras draws comparisons to Vladiimir Guerrero with his raw hitting ability. He batted .306/.341/.462 in the Pacific Coast League and could have improved upon that if not for a lingering ankle injury.
On the bright side, Taveras doesn't turn 22 until next June.
Right-hander Seth Blair has not given fans much to get excited about. To be fair, he fell into some truly tough luck in 2012 when team doctors found a tumor in his pitching hand.
Blair owns a reasonable 8.6 K/9 in his first fully healthy season, but his 4.99 ERA and .294 BAA leave plenty to be desired. He's already 24 years old, so something better click for him in the near future.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 7/15
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Chris Archer, Alex Colome, Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Alex Torres
Archer's July was among the best months for any rookie starting pitcher this early millennium. The Tampa Bay Rays secured victories in each of his five outings, two of which were complete-game shutouts. Overall, he's a solid middle-of-the-rotation option and a major reason why the Rays haven't missed a beat without James Shields.
As was expected, Myers has had trouble putting the bat on the ball, but he's had no such struggle depositing it into the bleachers. Given the underwhelming class of American League newbies, he cannot be counted out of AL Rookie of the Year contention.
Torres made his 2013 debut in mid-May and returned for good later that month. He picked up at least one strikeout in all 10 of his June relief appearances, and he keeps making the world's best hitters look silly.
Only five other relievers with at least 40 innings in the majors have posted a better ERA than Torres.
Stud shortstop Hak-Ju Lee batted .422/.536/.600 prior to shredding his knee in April. Entering this season, the 22-year-old Korean was considered the second-best position player prospect in the Rays system (behind only Myers).
Any serious lower-body injury is a cause for concern when you're dealing with a great baserunner.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 6/13
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Engel Beltre, Robinson Chirinos, Justin Grimm (traded), Joe Ortiz, Martin Perez, Jurickson Profar
Hype has followed Perez for a handful of years, and now he's justifying it. A breakout campaign has established him as the No. 4 starter in the Rangers rotation. Even his strikeout rate has risen as the summer has progressed.
Profar, meanwhile, is being forced to develop some versatility, and even that doesn't get him into the lineup on a consistent basis. The 20-year-old has barely maintained a .300 on-base percentage.
C.J. Edwards, who went to the Windy City in exchange for Garza, had no problem adjusting to Single-A life (1.83 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 122 K in 93.1 IP).
At least the Rangers still control Nick Williams. Texas' second-round pick in 2012, the teenage outfielder has loads of extra-base power.
Yeah, Profar is still only a baby, but it's confusing to see a player flounder despite such otherworldly potential. He needed 60 games this season to finally record a stolen base (53 in 341 minor league games).
You can make excuses for Profar's pedestrian defensive performance, as he has seldom played shortstop for the Rangers, his natural position. Then again, true glove gurus should be able to adapt to new positions.
Texas hoped Cody Buckel would celebrate his 21st birthday on the active roster. Instead, he was at extended spring training, trying to relearn how to throw a fastball across home plate. The right-hander couldn't get past three innings in any of his six Double-A outings, and his command problems have persisted ever since.
Vision problems have plagued third baseman Mike Olt. That didn't deter the Chicago Cubs from accepting him in July's Matt Garza trade.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 25/28
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Sean Nolin, Kevin Pillar, Todd Redmond, Neil Wagner
Nolin and Pillar could potentially fill significant roles for the Toronto Blue Jays beyond this summer.
Redmond had an unspectacular debut for the Cincinnati Reds in 2012, but he's looking somewhat dependable with his new team. The glaring problem is his dependence on fly balls. The Rogers Centre shows no mercy to pitchers of that persuasion.
Although Pillar excelled from the get-go, there were plenty of skeptics who doubted that the unheralded outfielder could keep up what were assumed to be very overachieving production. After all, he did last until the 32nd round of the 2011 draft. He has, however, and recently received his shot in The Show.
Three years after signing as an international free agent, Adonys Cardona has hardly gone anywhere.
He's in rookie ball with the Bluefield Blue Jays and is still being limited to low pitch counts. Especially concerning is the fact that the opposition has batted .327 against him.
The 50th overall pick in last year's draft, Matt Smoral has been obliterated. He has issued more than one walk per inning through his first dozen appearances, and that doesn't even include the eight hit batsmen.
Pre-Spring Training/Post-Trade Deadline Farm System Rankings: 15/21
Prospects to Play for MLB Team in 2013: Taylor Jordan, Ian Krol, Eury Perez, Anthony Rendon
The Washington Nationals locked Jordan into their starting rotation when back-end starters sustained injuries. His first full season since 2011 Tommy John surgery, the rookie was recently placed on the DL with back strain just as he was reaching his season's innings limit. The 24-year-old managed a 3.66 ERA in 51.2 innings of work in the majors.
There used to be legitimate concern about whether or not Rendon could stay healthy for any extended period. Starting 52 of the past 57 games puts an end to that.
Jordan has proven that his repertoire can translate to adequacy in the majors. The real surprise is how the right-hander succeeds in the absence of strikeouts (just 29 Ks in 50-plus big league innings).
A.J. Cole is piling up the strikeouts with the great regularity that he always has. Maintaining velocity deep into his outings has been vital to his recent success, as has a commitment to messing with the batters' eye levels.
Through five starts at Harrisburg Double-A, his ERA sits at 2.23 with 33 strikeouts against only eight walks.