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All 30 MLB Teams' Prospect of the Year for 2013

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 19, 2013

All 30 MLB Teams' Prospect of the Year for 2013

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    With MLB's award season just around the corner and the minor league postseason drawing to a close, now is as good a time as any to hand out our own awards: Prospect of the Year for each of baseball's 30 teams.

    There's nothing general managers in baseball love more than being able to build the core of their teams with homegrown talent, only needing to look outside of the organization for complementary pieces and veterans to fill bench spots, a hole at the back end of the rotation or to add experience to the bullpen.

    It's all about prospects reaching their potential, and for the players on this list, they are well on their way to doing just that.

    Now, it's important to note that being tabbed "Prospect of the Year" does not necessarily translate into being a team's best prospect. In some cases (spoiler alert), like that of Addison Russell in Oakland, that's how things played out.

    But it's not how things went for every organization—and that's a good thing.

    Not only does it speak to the depth in a team's minor league system when someone other than its best prospect stands out above the rest, but it also speaks to the abilities of the talent evaluators that the team employs.

    While statistics played a major role in this process, a player's development over the course of the past year also factored into the decision-making process, even if that progress didn't result in improved numbers.

    Finally, we'll compare each prospect to a current (or recently retired) major league player, though, again, a disclaimer is needed for that. In no way, shape or form am I saying that "Player X" will be the next Derek Jeter, for example—only that if everything goes right, he could have a Jeter-like impact and career when he reaches the major leagues.

    With all of that out of the way, let's get to it, shall we?

     

    *Unless otherwise noted, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and are current through games of September 18.

Arizona Diamondbacks: SP Archie Bradley

2 of 31

    Age: 21

    B/T: R/R

    MLB Comparison: Justin Verlander

    2013 Stats

    TeamGSW-LERAWHIPIPHBB/K
    Visalia (High-A)52-01.261.1228.22210/43
    Mobile (Double-A)2112-51.971.23123.19359/119
    2013 Totals2614-51.841.21152.011569/162 

     

    Of all the pitching prospects that the Arizona Diamondbacks have produced over the past few years (Trevor Bauer, Patrick Corbin, Tyler Skaggs and Wade Miley), none has the potential that Archie Bradley has in his right arm.

    Named the Double-A Southern League's Most Outstanding Pitcher, Bradley dominated the competition this season with a lethal fastball-curveball combination, allowing 40 fewer hits than innings pitched while striking out more than a batter per inning.

    It's that two-pitch combination, along with his filthy stuff and similar mechanics (except for Bradley's high leg kick) that has folks comparing Bradley to Verlander, something my B/R colleague Adam Wells goes more in depth on in a recent article.

    Bradley has work to do, as he averaged more than four walks per nine innings of work this year, but once he gets his command under control, the sky is the limit—and the future is bright for Arizona's rotation.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: 2014

Atlanta Braves: SP Lucas Sims

3 of 31

    Age: 19

    B/T: R/R

    MLB Comparison: Luke Hochevar

    2013 Stats

    TeamGW-LERAWHIPIPHBB/K
    Rome (Single-A)28 (18 GS)12-42.621.11116.28346/134

     

    Don't be alarmed at seeing Luke Hochevar's name mentioned here, Atlanta Braves fans, as I believe Lucas Sims has a far higher ceiling that Hochevar ever did—and he will have a far more successful major league career than the former first overall pick has had to this point.

    Still, when it comes to their respective arsenals, mechanics and arm action, Hochevar and Sims are very similar, despite the 19-year-old Sims standing four inches below the 6'5" Kansas City reliever.

    Some believe that Sims' long-term future lies as a late-inning reliever or closer, but the majority of pundits (me included) see him as a solid No. 2/No. 3 starter on a major league staff.

    Atlanta's first-round pick in the 2012 amateur draft, Sims had the second-most wins and fourth-highest strikeout total in the South Atlantic League this season. When you consider that he didn't join Rome's starting rotation until May 24, those numbers become even more impressive.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: 2016

Baltimore Orioles: SP Mike Wright

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    Age: 23

    B/T: R/R

    MLB Comparison: Rick Porcello

    2013 Stats

    TeamGSW-LERAWHIPIPHBB/K
    Bowie (Double-A)2611-33.261.33143.215239/136
    Norfolk (Triple-A)10-00.000.906.260/2
    2013 Totals2711-33.111.31150.115839/138 

     

    Winner of the Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award handed out by the Baltimore Orioles every year, Mike Wright led all of Baltimore's minor league system with 11 wins on the season and looks as if he could be part of the team's future rotation.

    Armed with a mid-90s fastball and a slider, curveball and changeup that all played better than they did a year ago, Wright has made strides in his development and has far more upside than previously believed.

    If his secondary pitches continue to improve—and if the 6'6" right-hander is able to maintain command over all of them—a future as a mid-rotation major league starter awaits. If not, Wright could be converted into a powerful late-inning reliever.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: 2015

Boston Red Sox: SP Henry Owens

5 of 31

    Age: 21

    B/T: L/L

    MLB Comparison: Cole Hamels

    2013 Stats

    TeamGSW-LERAWHIPIPHBB/K
    Salem (High-A)208-52.921.14104.26653/123
    Portland (Double-A)63-11.781.0930.11815/46
    2013 Totals2611-62.671.13135.08468/169

     

    Like Cole Hamels, southpaw Henry Owens relies more on deception and changing speeds more than blowing batters away with his fastball, an approach that has been wildly successful thus far in the prospect's professional career.

    At 6'6", 205 pounds, Owens still has room to fill out, and the added muscle could add a tick or two more in the velocity department to his fastball, which sits comfortably in the low 90s—just like Hamels.

    Command remains an issue, as Owens issued at least four walks in seven of his starts this season, not uncommon for a pitcher as inexperienced as Owens is. But it's his ability to make batters swing-and-miss—his 169 strikeouts were the second-most in the minors this year—that should have Boston Red Sox fans excited about the future of the team's rotation.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: 2015

Chicago Cubs: SS Javier Baez

6 of 31

    Age: 20

    B/T: R/R

    MLB Comparison: Gary Sheffield

    2013 Stats

    TeamGBAOBPOPS XBH (HR)RBISB
    Daytona (High-A)76.274.338.87340 (17)5712-for-14
    Tennessee (Double-A)54.294.346.98335 (20)548-for-10
    2013 Totals130.282.341.92075 (37)11120-for-24

     

    Named the Chicago Cubs' Minor League Player of the Year, Javier Baez, the team's first-round pick in the 2011 draft, has moved quickly through Chicago's minor league system and could make his presence felt at Wrigley Field as early as next season.

    Baez has incredible bat speed, allowing him to sit back on fastballs longer than other batters, resulting in big-time power, thus the comparisons to Gary Sheffield. As you can see in this slow-motion side-by-side video comparison of their swings, it's uncanny how similar the future All-Star and former All-Star are at the plate.

    That bat speed allows Baez to sit on fastballs longer than other hitters, and then his raw power and natural ability take over, sending the ball screaming over the outfield wall with regularity.

    Baez believes that he can hit anything in the vicinity of home plate, walking only seven percent of the time while striking out in more than a quarter of his at-bats.

    But it's the damage that he's capable of doing at the plate that makes him Chicago's Prospect of the Year—and which left GM Jed Hoyer unable to contain his excitement over the future when asked about Baez last week, per Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago.

    "Personally, in my career, it's (Baez's 2013) as good a minor league season as I've seen," Hoyer said.

    Whether he sticks at shortstop remains to be seen, for while Hoyer said that the team believes he can play the position, it wants him to become more versatile and plans on moving him around the infield during the Arizona Fall League.

    Regardless of where he winds up on the field, Baez's bat is going to anchor Chicago's lineup for the better part of a decade once he reaches The Show.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: 2015 (Possibly late-2014)

Chicago White Sox: IF Marcus Semien

7 of 31

    Age: 23

    B/T: R/R

    MLB Comparison: Ben Zobrist

    2013 Stats

    TeamGBAOBPOPS XBH (HR)RBISB
    Birmingham (Double-A)105.290.420.90341 (15)4920-for-25
    Charlotte (Triple-A)32.264.338.80216 (4)174-for-4
    2013 Totals137.284.401.88057 (19)6624-for-29

     

    A sixth-round pick by the White Sox in the 2011 draft, 23-year-old Marcus Semien has moved quickly through the team's minor league system, reaching the major leagues in only his second full professional season.

    Named MVP of the Eastern League for his play with the newly crowned Eastern League champs, the Birmingham Barons, Semien led all of minor league baseball with 110 runs scored on the season, while his 98 walks ranked sixth overall.

    He walked more than he struck out (90 times), showing improved plate discipline, which, along with his already enticing combination of power and speed, makes him an intriguing option as a top-of-the-order bat moving forward.

    Where his true position lies remains in question, as Semien is capable of playing second base, third base and shortstop, though he's no better than an average fielder at any of those spots and doesn't really have the arm strength needed to play the hot corner. A future as a super-utility player isn't out of the question.

     

    Made MLB Debut: 2013

Cincinnati Reds: SP Robert Stephenson

8 of 31

    Age: 20

    B/T: R/R

    MLB Comparison: Matt Harvey

    2013 Stats 

    TeamGSW-LERAWHIPIPHBB/K
    Dayton (Single-A)145-32.570.9977.05620/96
    Bakersfield (High-A)42-23.051.0220.2192/22
    Pensacola (Double-A)40-24.861.8016.21713/18
    2013 Totals227-72.991.11114.19235/136

     

    Cincinnati's first-round pick in the 2011 draft, Robert Stephenson has moved quickly through the Reds' minor league system, reaching Double-A at the age of 20 in only his second professional season.

    While his Double-A numbers aren't pretty, Stephenson allowed only two earned runs and seven hits over his first 11 innings with Pensacola—impressive given the fact that most of the batters he faced were significantly older and more experienced than he was.

    His fastball sits in the 94-97 mph range consistently and, as you can see from the video, has nearly identical arm action and release point as his above-average fading changeup, making it incredibly difficult for opposing batters to differentiate between the two.

    Like Matt Harvey at this point in his development, Stephenson's breaking ball is a work in progress, but it projects to be another plus offering in his arsenal, just as Harvey's had become with the Mets this year.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: 2016 (Possibly late 2015)

Cleveland Indians: SS Francisco Lindor

9 of 31

    Age: 19

    B/T: S/R

    MLB Comparison: Elvis Andrus

    2013 Stats

     

    TeamGBAOBPOPSXBH (HR)RBISB
    Carolina (High-A)83.306.373.78326 (1)2720-for-25
    Akron (Double-A)21.289.407.8015 (1)75-for-7
    2013 Totals104.303.380.78731 (2)3425-for-32

     

    You might look at Francisco Lindor's numbers on the season and be less than impressed, but consider this: Lindor was the youngest player in the High-A Carolina League to start the season, and he looked anything but overmatched against Double-A pitching, most more than a full year older than he was.

    Lindor is never going to hit for much power given his 5'11", 175 pound frame. It's easy to see him as a .300 hitter who averages 30 doubles, 10 triples and 10 to 15 home runs a season while causing problems on the basepaths.

    While Elvis Andrus is better with the glove than Lindor, the youngster is capable enough to stick at the position while offering more with the bat than Texas' two-time All-Star.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: 2014

Colorado Rockies: SP Eddie Butler

10 of 31

    Age: 22

    B/T: S/R

    MLB Comparison: Justin Masterson

    2013 Stats

    TeamGSW-LERAWHIPIPHBB/K
    Asheville (Single-A)95-11.660.9254.12525/51
    Modesto (High-A)133-42.391.1767.25821/67
    Tulsa (Double-A)61-00.650.6927.2136/25
    2013 Totals289-51.800.99149.29652/143

     

    Few prospects in baseball made as big a jump this season as Eddie Butler did, pitching in the Futures Game on All-Star Weekend and advancing to Double-A in his first full professional season, dominating the competition at every stop along the way.

    Butler's fastball was already an above-average pitch heading into the season, and he's elevated both his slider and changeup to plus offerings as well, boding well for a future as a frontline starter and not a dominant middle reliever, where some believe his future lies.

    Like Justin Masterson, Butler throws from a low three-quarters arm slot and is adept at inducing ground-ball outs, something that will certainly come in handy at Coors Field when he makes his major league debut.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: Mid-to-late 2014

Detroit Tigers: 2B Devon Travis

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    Age: 22

    B/T: R/R

    MLB Comparison: Dustin Pedroia

    2013 Stats

    TeamGBAOBPOPSXBH (HR)RBISB
    West Michigan (Single-A)77.352.430.91625 (6)4214-for-17
    Lakeland (High-A)55.350.401.96223 (10)348-for-9
    2013 Totals132.351.418.93648 (16)7622-for-26

     

    With an advanced approach at the plate that finds him making consistent contact and walking nearly as much as he strikes out, Devon Travis has been a fast riser on prospect lists around baseball since being selected out of Florida State in the 12th round of last year's amateur draft by the Detroit Tigers.

    His numbers on the season speak for themselves, though he'll need to prove that he can produce against tougher competition at Double-A next season before he can really be thought of as Detroit's second baseman of the future.

    While Dustin Pedroia is a more complete player than Travis, the pair's approach at the plate, ability to hit for power and knowledge of how to maximize their speed to cause problems when they get on base make it easy to compare the youngster to the former AL MVP.

     

     

    Expected MLB Debut: 2015

Houston Astros: OF George Springer

12 of 31

    Age: 23

    B/T: R/R

    MLB Comparison: Grady Sizemore

    2013 Stats

    TeamGBAOBPOPSXBH (HR)RBISB
    Corpus Christi (Double-A)73.297.399.97839 (19)5523-for-28
    Oklahoma City (Triple-A)62.311.4251.05029 (18)5322-for-25
    2013 Totals135.303.4111.01068 (37)10845-for-53

     

    Kudos are due to Houston Astros GM Jeff Luhnow for somehow resisting the temptation—and what were likely impassioned pleas from manager Bo Porter—to promote outfielder George Springer at some point during the regular season.

    He won't have the chance in 2014, as Springer will leave no doubt that he should be the team's starting center fielder in spring training—something he started to do this year before being sent to minor league camp—if he isn't handed the job outright.

    You can't help but compare the 23-year-old UConn product to former Cleveland All-Star Grady Sizemore, a player that could do it all—hit for average, hit for power, cause havoc on the basepaths and make highlight-reel plays in center field—before injuries destroyed his career.

    B/R's own Adam Wells sees that comparison as well. He went more in depth with the similarities between the two in a terrific piece he wrote earlier this month.

    Expected MLB Debut: 2014

Kansas City Royals: SP Yordano Ventura

13 of 31

    Age: 22

    B/T: R/R

    MLB Comparison: Johnny Cueto/Neftali Feliz

    2013 Stats

    TeamG (GS)W-LERAWHIPIPHBB/K
    Northwest Arkansas (Double-A)11 (11)3-22.341.0257.23920/74
    Omaha (Triple-A)15 (14)5-43.741.4777.08033/81
    2013 Totals26 (25)8-63.141.28134.211953/155 

     

    Blessed with an electric fastball and knee-buckling curveball, the Kansas City Royals weren't going to listen to the doubters who pointed to Yordano Ventura's slight build (5'11", 180 pounds) and lack of a quality third pitch as a reason why the 22-year-old would ultimately wind up as a shutdown closer, not a starter.

    Ventura will have to pitch his way out of the starter's role, and his changeup has improved enough that Kansas City promoted him earlier this week to replace the injured Danny Duffy in the team's rotation.

    He'll likely never be a 200-inning workhorse, but he'll be a starter that can give a team 160 to 180 quality innings while racking up high strikeout totals, averaging close to a strikeout per inning over the course of a regular season.

    If he sticks in the rotation, you're looking at a Johnny Cueto-type starter—one with electric stuff, but there will always be durability concerns. As a closer, there's no reason Ventura couldn't quickly become one of the best in baseball, relying heavily on his two best pitches to shut down the opposition.

     

    Made MLB Debut: 2013

Los Angeles Angels: OF Zach Borenstein

14 of 31

    Age: 23

    B/T: L/R

    MLB Comparison: Nate Schierholtz

    2013 Stats

    TeamGBAOBPOPSXBH (HR)RBISB
    Inland Empire (High-A)112.337.4031.03457 (28)955-for-10

     

    After leading the California League with 28 home runs and a .631 slugging percentage while ranking among the league leaders in batting average, OPS and RBI, Zach Borenstein has gone from non-prospect to prospect with his breakout 2013 campaign.

    An aggressive hitter from the left-side of the plate, Borenstein's bat speed generates solid power, but none of his tools jump out at you as being outstanding, much like Nate Schierholtz, who enjoyed a breakout season of his own this year for the Cubs.

    The real test for Borenstein will be finding success outside of the hitter-friendly California League, something he's likely to have the opportunity to do next season with Double-A Arkansas in the Texas League.

    If he does, the Los Angeles Angels could have a powerful left-handed bat to use in a platoon at one of the corner outfield spots or as a pinch-hitter off the bench.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: 2015

Los Angeles Dodgers: OF Joc Pederson

15 of 31

    Age: 21

    B/T: L/L

    MLB Comparison: Matt Holliday

    2013 Stats

    TeamGBAOBPOPSXBH (HR)RBISB
    Chattanooga (Double-A)123.278.381.87849 (22)5831-for-39


    A pure hitter with a swing that generates power, a good eye and an approach that allows him to hit for average, Joc Pederson looks more and more like he'll be a Matt Holliday-type batter at the plate once he arrives in the major leagues.

    Tied for the Southern League lead in home runs and second in stolen bases this season, Pederson's ceiling may in fact be higher than that of the six-time All-Star's, but his opportunity to flash his skills at the major league level is severely hindered by an overcrowded outfield in Los Angeles.

    Unless he finds himself included in a trade, don't expect to see Pederson at a major league ballpark near you any earlier than 2015, when the Dodgers would be hard-pressed to justify keeping him on the farm for another year.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: 2015

Miami Marlins: SP Andrew Heaney

16 of 31

    Age: 22

    B/T: L/L

    MLB Comparison: Derek Holland

    2013 Stats

    TeamG (GS)W-LERAWHIPIPHBB/K
    Jupiter (High-A)13 (12)5-20.881.0161.24517/66
    Jacksonville (Double-A)6 (6)4-12.941.1933.2319/23
    2013 Totals19 (18)9-31.601.0795.17626/89 

     

    The Miami Marlins' first-round pick in the 2012 draft out of Oklahoma State, Andrew Heaney has done exactly what was expected of him, moving quickly through the team's minor league system.

    On a strict pitch count during his first full professional season, Heaney needs more experience—and longer starts—against upper-level competition before the Marlins can even consider bringing him to Marlins Park.

    The command that he exhibits over his three above-average pitches, especially his low- to mid-90s fastball, draws comparisons to Derek Holland, who continues to improve for Texas as he enters the prime years of his career.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: Mid- to late-2014

Milwaukee Brewers: 1B Jason Rogers

17 of 31

    Age: 25

    B/T: R/R

    MLB Comparison: Derrek Lee

    2013 Stats

    TeamGBAOBPOPSXBH (HR)RBISB
    Huntsville (Double-A)133.270.346.81449 (22)877-for-9

     

     

    Named the Milwaukee Brewers' Minor League Player of the Year, 25-year-old Jason Rogers is the oldest member of this list and needed a breakout campaign to retain his prospect status. He delivered in a big way, leading the Southern League in RBI while ranking among the league leaders in home runs, extra-base hits and total bases (225).

    Not only does Rogers pack power into his 6'2", 255-pound frame, but he's surprisingly agile, swiping bases and playing above-average defense at first base.

    With Hunter Morris having a disappointing season and the uncertain futures of Mat Gamel and Corey Hart, it's entirely possible that Rogers could break camp as Milwaukee's starting first baseman in 2014.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: 2014

Minnesota Twins: CF Byron Buxton

18 of 31

    Age: 19

    B/T: R/R

    MLB Comparison: Mike Trout

    2013 Stats

    TeamGBAOBPOPS XBH (HR)RBISB
    Cedar Rapids (Low-A)68.341.431.99033 (8)5532-for-43
    Fort Myers (High-A)57.326.415.88716 (4)2223-for-31
    2013 Totals125.334.424.94449 (12)7755-for-74

     

    Named Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America, it's taken only two seasons for Byron Buxton to become one of, if not the best prospect in baseball.

    Winner of the Midwest League's MVP Award, the 19-year-old Buxton has quickly put to rest concerns about whether he could adjust to advanced pitching, flashing an advanced approach at the plate and the kind of all-around game that players three and four years older than him can only dream of having.

    While his power is still developing, Buxton still had enough pop in his swing to pick up nearly 50 extra-base hits, including a dozen home runs and a minor league-leading 18 triples. That developing power, along with his game-changing speed and freakish athleticism, makes comparisons to Mike Trout, both at the plate and in the field, inevitable.

    Take a look at their respective minor league numbers during their first full professional seasons:

    Category Buxton (2013)Trout (2010)
    BA.334.341
    OBP.424.428
    Hits163173
    XBH (HR)49 (12)47 (10)
    Runs109106
    SB55-for-7456-for-71

    While Trout spent 40 games with the Angels in 2010, he still played in more minor league games (131) than Buxton did this year (125), so there's no argument to be made that Trout's numbers would be significantly better had he not been promoted to the big leagues.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: 2015 (Possible late-2014 promotion)

New York Mets: SP Rafael Montero

19 of 31

    Age: 22

    B/T: R/R

    MLB Comparison: Doug Fister

    2013 Stats

    TeamGSW-LERAWHIPIPHBB/K
    Binghamton (Double-A)117-32.430.9266.25110/72
    Las Vegas (Triple-A)165-43.051.2488.28525/78
    2013 Totals2712-72.781.10155.113635/150 

     

    With four pitches that he can throw for a strike in any count, Rafael Montero's command over his arsenal is more impressive than the arsenal itself. Blessed with a great feel for pitching, he's able to paint the corners and get batters to chase pitches out of the strike zone on a regular basis.

    While he doesn't figure to induce as many swings-and-misses in the major leagues as he has over his minor league career, averaging more than eight strikeouts per nine innings of work, Montero has the potential to be a Doug Fister-like mid-rotation arm.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: 2014

New York Yankees: 1B Greg Bird

20 of 31

    Age: 20

    B/T: L/R

    MLB Comparison: Freddie Freeman

    2013 Stats

    TeamGBAOBPOPSXBH (HR)RBISB
    Charleston (Single-A)130.288.428.93859 (20)841-for-2

     

    Greg Bird broke out in a big way during his first full season as a professional ballplayer, leading the South Atlantic League in walks (107) while ranking among the league leaders in home runs, RBI, on-base percentage, OPS and strikeouts (132).

    It's difficult to make a real comparison between Bird and a major league first baseman given the level of competition that he faced this season, but Freddie Freeman's 20- to 25-home run power and ability to get on base consistently make him the choice now.

    How Bird fares against higher competition next season in High-A and, perhaps, Double-A, will go a long way in telling us whether the Freeman comparison is an accurate one or not.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: 2016

Oakland Athletics: SS Addison Russell

21 of 31

    Age: 19

    B/T: R/R

    MLB Comparison: Hanley Ramirez

    2013 Stats

    TeamGBAOBPOPS XBH (HR)RBISB
    Stockton (High-A)107.275.377.88556 (17)6021-for-24
    Sacramento (Triple-A)3.077.077.1540 (0)00-for-0
    2013 Totals110.269.369.86556 (17)6021-for-24

     

    Few prospects make it to Triple-A at the age of 19, but Addison Russell did just that in 2013 after a strong showing in the High-A California League, using his quick hands and raw power to put up impressive numbers against competition that was typically at least two years older than he was.

    While he doesn't have the top-end speed that Hanley Ramirez has, Russell's power and ability to cover the entire strike zone makes the former perennial MVP candidate a valid comparison. Russell still has work to do before he's ready for prime time and will likely start 2014 at Double-A, but it's not out of the question that he could land in Oakland before the end of the 2014 season.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: 2015 (Possibly late 2014)

Philadelphia Phillies: 3B/1B Maikel Franco

22 of 31

    Age: 21

    B/T: R/R

    MLB Comparison: Aramis Ramirez

    2013 Stats

    TeamGBAOBPOPSXBH (HR)RBISB
    Clearwater (High-A)65.299.349.92540 (16)520-for-0
    Reading (Double-A)69.339.363.92630 (15)511-for-3
    2013 Totals134.320.356.92670 (31)1031-for-3

     

    Winner of the Paul Owens Award as the best minor league hitter in Philadelphia's organization, 21-year-old Maikel Franco seems to be on the fast track to the major leagues.

    Franco's 31 home runs were tied for the sixth-most across all levels of the minor leagues, while his 103 RBI ranked eighth.

    While Cody Asche is slotted in at the hot corner for next season, Franco recently told Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News that he expects to compete for a spot on Philadelphia's 25-man roster in spring training next season, regardless of what position he winds up playing.

    Franco has legitimate raw power that translates well to any level of competition. But while one unnamed scout told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Franco reminded him of Edwin Encarnacion, I'm more inclined to go with Aramis Ramirez.

    Unlike Encarnacion, Franco has the defensive chops needed to stay at third base, with a strong throwing arm and enough range to make the plays he'll need to make in order to stick there.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: 2014

Pittsburgh Pirates: SP Tyler Glasnow

23 of 31

    Age: 20

    B/T: R/L

    MLB Comparison: A.J. Burnett

    2013 Stats

    TeamGSW-LERAWHIPIPHBB/K
    West Virginia (Single-A)249-32.181.03111.15461/164 

     

    Tyler Glasnow's first full season as a professional ballplayer was an eye-opening one, with the 20-year-old southpaw striking out an insanely-high 13.3 batters per nine innings of work, absolutely decimating bats in the South Atlantic League.

    Armed with a fastball that sits in the low- to mid-90s and a curveball that projects as an above-average out pitch,  Glasnow needs to continue developing his secondary pitches, namely his changeup, if he hopes to stick as a starting pitcher going forward.

    Glasnow's biggest issue is going to be his command and consistently repeating his delivery, both difficult things for a 6'7" pitcher to pull off. A.J. Burnett, standing 6'4", has dealt with similar problems throughout his career as well, including during his first full season of Single-A Ball:

    Category Glasnow (2013)Burnett (1998)
    ERA2.181.97
    WHIP1.031.00
    IP111.1119.0
    H5474
    BB/94.93.4
    K/913.314.1

    Glasnow has a ways to go before he can be part of Pittsburgh's resurgence, but if 2013 is any indication, the 20-year-old could be a game-changer once he arrives.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: 2016

San Diego Padres: SP Matt Wisler

24 of 31

    Age: 21

    B/T: R/R

    MLB Comparison: Mat Latos

    2013 Stats

    TeamGSW-LERAWHIPIPHBB/K
    Lake Elsinore (High-A)62-12.030.9031.0226/28
    San Antonio (Double-A)208-53.001.07105.08527/103
    2013 Totals2610-62.781.03136.010733/131 

     

    The most impressive thing about Matt Wisler is that he's not trying to be something that he's not.

    Wisler realizes that he'll never be a power pitcher, so he relies on a five-pitch arsenal, mixing and matching his breaking stuff with two versions of a fastball while changing speeds effectively to keep batters off balance, much like former Padres prospect Mat Latos.

    The command that he has over all of his pitches is impressive, and while he'd likely benefit from one more season in the minors to continue to refine his secondary pitches, it wouldn't be a shock to see Wisler break camp with the Padres next year.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: 2014

San Francisco Giants: SP Kendry Flores

25 of 31

    Age: 21

    B/T: R/R

    MLB Comparison: Ivan Nova

    2013 Stats

    TeamGSW-LERAWHIPIPHBB/K
    Augusta (Single-A)2210-62.730.92141.211317/137 

     

    Signed out of the Dominican Republic when he was only 17 years old, Kendry Flores blossomed in his first full professional season, ranking among the South Atlantic League leaders in strikeouts, ERA, WHIP and K/BB ratio, with an insane eight strikeouts for every walk that he issued.

    He has a long way to go before he's even remotely close to being ready to face major league batters, and his numbers this season represent a massive jump in production over his previous stints in short-season ball, which saw him get hit significantly harder and more often than he did in 2013.

    That said, you can't dismiss the improvement that he showed across the board this season, and his ability to induce swings and misses while limiting his walks makes me think of Ivan Nova, another youngster out of the Dominican who was a relative unknown until something finally clicked a few years into his career.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: 2016

Seattle Mariners: 1B Ji-Man Choi

26 of 31

    Age: 22

    B/T: L/R

    MLB Comparison: Nick Johnson

    2013 Stats

    TeamGBAOBPOPS XBH (HR)RBISB
    High Desert (High-A)48.337.4271.04534 (7)400-for-1
    Jackson (Double-A)61.268.377.86222 (9)392-for-4
    Tacoma (Triple-A)13.244.333.7564 (2)60-for-0
    2013 Totals122.295.394.92960 (18)852-for-5

     

     

    A catcher by trade, Ji-Man Choi was forced to switch positions after back surgery cost him all of the 2011 season and forced him out from behind the plate.

    Now settled at first base, where he's an above-average defender, the left-handed Choi has a keen batting eye and enough pop in his bat to average 15 to 20 home runs a season with regular playing time in a major league lineup.

    Like Nick Johnson, there will always be questions about his health, but even if he is relegated to part-time duty, his ability to draw walks and get on base consistently should translate into a solid major league career.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: 2014

St. Louis Cardinals: SP/RP Zach Petrick

27 of 31

    Age: 24

    B/T: R/R

    MLB Comparison: Mike Adams

    2013 Stats

    TeamG (GS)W-LERAWHIPIPHBB/K
    Peoria (Single-A)16 (0)1-00.830.9832.2248/46
    Palm Beach (High-A)9 (4)3-00.270.7533.1214/32
    Springfield (Double-A)9 (9)3-33.991.2547.14415/44
    2013 Totals34 (13)7-31.991.02113.18927/122

     

    Like Mike Adams and a handful of relievers in the major leagues, Zach Petrick was signed as an undrafted free agent who somehow fell through the cracks.

    In just over a year, Petrick has gone from an unknown commodity to someone you can't ignore. His fastball has ticked up from 89 to 90 mph, now sitting consistently in the 92- to 93-mph range, while his secondary pitches took massive leaps forward in terms of their effectiveness and his confidence in throwing them.

    His numbers are impossible to ignore. While he was hit harder than he'd ever been hit before once he reached Double-A, Petrick's numbers are far from terrible and he didn't lose any of the command and control that he has over his arsenal.

    Petrick is still a few years away from making an impact in the major leagues, but he could develop into a quality middle reliever down the road.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: 2015

Tampa Bay Rays: RP C.J. Riefenhauser

28 of 31

    Age: 23

    B/T: L/L

    MLB Comparison: Sean Marshall

    2013 Stats

    TeamGW-LERAWHIPIPHBB/K
    Montgomery (Double-A)344-00.510.7453.02811/48
    Durham (Triple-A)172-13.051.0720.2148/22
    2013 Totals516-11.220.8373.24219/70 

     

    An undersized left-hander that attacks the strike zone consistently, C.J. Riefenhauser opened some eyes with his performance at the Futures Game during MLB's All-Star Weekend this past season, working a one-two-three eighth inning for Team USA on only six pitches.

    Armed with a low- to mid-90s fastball and a quality breaking ball, Riefenhauser doesn't have the kind of overpowering stuff that you look for in a closer, but there's no reason to think he couldn't be an impact middle reliever in Tampa Bay sooner rather than later.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: 2014

Texas Rangers: 3B Joey Gallo

29 of 31

    Age: 19

    B/T: L/R

    MLB Comparison: Pedro Alvarez

    2013 Stats

    TeamGBAOBPOPSXBH (HR)RBISB
    AZL Rangers (Rookie)5.368.4291.3236 (2)101-for-1
    Hickory (Single-A)106.245.334.94462 (38)7814-for-15
    2013 Totals111.251.338.96168 (40)8815-for-16

     

    He might have more raw power than Giancarlo Stanton, but Joey Gallo is light years away from orbiting in the same universe as Miami's slugging right fielder when it comes to an overall approach at the plate.

    Gallo is still learning how to be a professional hitter. While he'll draw walks, he struggles to make consistent contact, making him an all-or-nothing-type of player that swings and misses routinely.

    He's also still learning the ins and outs of fielding third base, but he has the arm strength to stick at the position or, if his glove doesn't come around, to land in a corner outfield spot.

    While there are plenty of issues with his game, Gallo's power is off the charts, and it's what makes him one of the more exciting prospects in baseball to follow over the next few years.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: 2016

Toronto Blue Jays: SP Marcus Stroman

30 of 31

    Age: 22

    B/T: R/R

    MLB Comparison: Tom Gordon

    2013 Stats

    TeamGSW-LERAWHIPIPHBB/K
    New Hampshire (Double-A)209-53.301.13111.29927/129

     

    Toronto's first-round pick in the 2012 draft, Marcus Stroman was used exclusively as a starter this season after making nothing but relief appearances in 2012.

    The results were impressive, with Stroman showing outstanding command over his mid-90s fastball, above-average slider and improving changeup, using all of his electric arsenal to keep batters off-balance at the plate.

    Standing only 5'9", the debate will rage on as to whether he's best suited to come out of the bullpen. But Toronto seems intent on giving him every chance to make it to the next level as a member of the starting rotation.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: 2015 (Possibly late 2014)

Washington Nationals: CF Billy Burns

31 of 31

    Age: 24

    B/T: S/R

    MLB Comparison: Ben Revere

    2013 Stats

    TeamGBAOBPOPSXBH (HR)RBISB
    Potomac (High-A)91.312.422.81317 (0)2954-for-59
    Harrisburg (Double-A)30.325.434.7934 (0)820-for-22
    2013 Totals121.315.425.80821 (0)3774-for-81

     

    Named the Washington Nationals' Minor League Player of the Year, the only thing missing from Billy Burns' repertoire is any semblance of power.

    Other than that, the speedy switch-hitter can do it all. He has a tremendous batting eye and advanced pitch recognition, allowing him to hit equally well from both sides of the plate while consistently getting on base, where his phenomenal speed is a lethal weapon.

    That speed allows him to cover a huge swath of ground in center field, making plays on balls that other center fielders can't reach.

     

    Expected MLB Debut: 2015

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