This is the search for Major League Baseball's next superstar.
This tricky, treacherous venture isn't about highlighting youngsters who might be above-average players. No, this is about unearthing those with the potential and ability to be among the very best, those who possess the talent and skill to make themselves into perennial All-Stars and/or MVP and Cy Young Award candidates—and soon.
In short, if this search were to take out a classified ad, the write-up would include something like: "seeking the next Mike Trout or Paul Goldschmidt, the next Matt Harvey or Jose Fernandez."
That player exists somewhere in the baseball world and should rise to prominence in the very near future—even as soon as the 2014 season. This is simply about uncovering him (or them).
All of the candidates that follow are players whose careers are still in their infancy, but that doesn't mean they're all prospects. There is a mix of both prospects and those with at least some major league experience, because casting a wide enough net hopefully will capture a batch of MLB's next superstars.
To qualify for this contest, players have to have less than two years in the majors on Opening Day. Additionally, any votes received for MVP or Cy Young and/or an All-Star appearance automatically disqualifies a player, since those lofty standards have already been met.
Hence, there's no Fernandez, the reigning NL Rookie of the Year from the Marlins; or Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers' Cuban sensation; or Manny Machado, the all-around Orioles stud; or Andrelton Simmons, the Braves' defensive wizard of a shortstop. Each of those four fit the superstar mold as is, having finished in the top 15 in MVP voting or the top five in Cy Young voting in 2013.
For these purposes, that makes them old news. This is about finding next year's old news—now.