Odds of All 30 MLB Team's Top Prospect in Spring Camp Making 2014 Impact

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistFebruary 19, 2014

Odds of All 30 MLB Team's Top Prospect in Spring Camp Making 2014 Impact

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    Now that we are in the throes of spring training, all eyes are going to be focused on the top prospects for all 30 Major League Baseball teams and how soon their impact can be felt. 

    It makes sense these young players are a focal point of the exhibition season, because teams, like prospects, breed optimism. Everyone believes if one or two things break the right way, they could make a run like the 2013 Boston Red Sox. 

    Of course, we are talking about players who range between the ages of 19-24, so they are volatile. You will hear about a development plan and potential arrival times for prospects, but you can't force a player into a situation before he is ready. 

    For the top players in each team's system, we thought it would be appropriate to provide fair, honest odds to evaluate their potential impact in the big leagues this season. 

    A number of factors were considered when putting the odds together, including age, highest level played at, present and future skills, injury history (if a pitcher had Tommy John surgery last July, for instance, he's going to have the longest odds) and players in the big leagues blocking his path. 

    With that in mind, here is how things will shake out for the top prospects in baseball when the 2014 season begins. 

    Note: All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference unless otherwise noted. 

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    Archie Bradley, RHP

    Highest Level: Double-A 

    Age: 21

     

    Arizona's loaded rotation wouldn't seem to present Archie Bradley with an opportunity to make the team out of camp, but general manager Kevin Towers isn't showing his hand. 

    According to a report from Jack Magruder of Fox Sports Arizona, Towers says the addition of Bronson Arroyo doesn't affect Bradley one bit. The Diamondbacks also have Patrick Corbin, Wade Miley, Brandon McCarthy and Trevor Cahill in the rotation. 

    Of course, you can also interpret Towers' words to mean Bradley wasn't going to pitch with the Diamondbacks right out of camp. Despite making it to Double-A early last season and being widely regarded as the best pitching prospect in baseball, the 21-year-old still has to work on commanding the fastball and throwing a changeup. 

    He's not far away from the big leagues but will need more seasoning in the minors before pitching in Arizona. He will arrive later this year. 

    Odds: 4-1

Atlanta Braves

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    Lucas Sims, RHP

    Highest Level: Low-A

    Age: 19

     

    Lucas Sims has vaulted up prospect lists after showing better fastball velocity and an excellent changeup last year. He had an impressive 134-46 strikeout-to-walk ratio with just 83 hits allowed in 116.2 innings.

    Unlike another high-ceiling Atlanta pitching prospect, J.R. Graham, Sims didn't have problems staying healthy last year. Even with the impressive full-season debut in 2013, Sims has no shot to pitch with the Braves in 2014. 

    The stuff looks good, but there is still at least one more full year of development needed for Sims to make an impact in the big leagues. He still has some effort in the delivery, though nothing that is too alarming, and is filling out a 195-pound frame. 

    The good news for Atlanta is the MLB rotation doesn't need any help right now, with Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran and Mike Minor making a dynamic young trio at the top. 

Baltimore Orioles

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    Dylan Bundy, RHP

    Highest Level: MLB (2012)

    Age: 21

     

    There is a case to be made for Kevin Gausman as Baltimore's top prospect, not the least of which is health, but Dylan Bundy still has the highest ceiling of any arm in the system and will be back in 2014. 

    Bundy, in case you forgot, had Tommy John surgery last June after experiencing elbow problems in spring that weren't helped with rest and treatments. 

    The No. 4 pick in the 2011 draft, Bundy has said that he's targeting June 28, exactly one year to the day he went under the knife, to pitch in games again. That's likely puts him out of the running for an MLB job this year. 

    Right now, the Orioles' only focus should be ensuring Bundy stays healthy before making any rash decisions, then going into 2015 with a chance to make the rotation out of camp. 

    Odds: 50-1

Boston Red Sox

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Xander Bogaerts, SS/3B

    Highest Level: MLB

    Age: 21

     

    Rarely will you see a team make a significant lineup change in the middle of a playoff run, but the Boston Red Sox knew what they had in Xander Bogaerts and needed his bat in the lineup to pick up Will Middlebrooks' slack. 

    Bogaerts became a sensation by putting together quality at-bats against Detroit and St. Louis last October. He will become a star in 2014 as, presumably, the everyday shortstop. If Stephen Drew re-signs with the Red Sox, Bogaerts will be pushed over to third base. 

    Manager John Farrell has already said that Bogaerts has the ability to play shortstop. The Red Sox aren't prone to spending money, even though they have mountains of it, when there is a young player in the minors ready to take over. 

    Regardless of where he's playing in the field, Bogaerts is going to be in Boston on Opening Day. He's earned that right with a rare offensive skill set at such a young age and incredible discipline on display last October. 

    Odds: Even

Chicago White Sox

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Erik Johnson, RHP

    Highest Level: MLB

    Age: 24

     

    It's very fitting that Erik Johnson debuted with the White Sox, who were a mess by the end of 2013, last September, because the right-hander has flown under the radar since being a second-round pick in the 2011 draft. 

    He's not the kind of pitcher who is going to command a lot of attention coming through the minors but succeeds at every level because of a deep arsenal and strong understanding of how to pitch. 

    The White Sox have finally undertaken a much-needed rebuild, so a pitcher like Johnson deserves to be in the rotation right away. He had a decent showing last September, with a 3.25 ERA and 18-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 27.2 innings, and will grow into a quality mid-rotation starter. 

    Odds: Even

Chicago Cubs

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    Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

    Javier Baez, SS

    Highest Level: Double-A

    Age: 21

     

    Javier Baez is going to be one of the most fascinating prospects to follow this spring. He's got some of the best power in the minors, hitting 37 homers in 130 games last year (20 in 54 Double-A games) and will dazzle quite often. 

    Cubs fans will be calling for Baez to make the team out of spring training because they are an impatient group tired of hearing about the upside of this deep farm system. Unfortunately that will lead to disappointment. 

    That's not to say Baez won't be in Chicago by the end of the year, but he's still got to develop an approach, cut down on the strikeouts (147-40 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2013) and work on his focus in the field (44 errors). 

    Odds: 10-1

Cincinnati Reds

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    Robert Stephenson, RHP

    Highest Level: Double-A

    Age: 21 (Turns 21 on February 24)

     

    The Reds are in a transition phase in 2014, despite having the talent to compete for a playoff spot. They lost Shin-Soo Choo and Bronson Arroyo to free agency, got a new manager in Bryan Price with no previous experience and enter the season with Homer Bailey in his walk year. 

    That last bit of information is relevant to Robert Stephenson, though it's up to his development for anything to happen in 2014. He improved by leaps and bounds last year, showcasing premium velocity, a knockout curveball and advanced command, making it to Double-A as a 20-year-old. 

    If Stephenson continues on that path this season, he will be in Cincinnati by midseason. The Reds have been looking for a dominant top-of-the-rotation arm to shut teams down in the postseason. 

    Stephenson has that kind of potential for the Reds, but the team has to play in October for him to show it off. He's got power stuff and polish, so the sky is the limit, even as a mid-rotation arm in 2014. 

    Odds: 15-1

Cleveland Indians

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    Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    Francisco Lindor, SS

    Highest Level: Double-A

    Age: 20

     

    The only thing stopping Francisco Lindor from playing in Cleveland on Opening Day is Asdrubal Cabrera. Lindor is the best defensive shortstop the Indians have, has a polished bat with a great eye and on-base skills, and tremendous feel for the game. 

    Cabrera had a bad season in 2013, diminishing any trade value he might have had with a $10 million salary this season and will enter the year as the team's starting shortstop. 

    After last year's surprising playoff run, the Indians have high expectations in 2014. The team isn't likely to trust shortstop to a rookie, even though Lindor is a superior all-around player to Cabrera, so it will take a complete collapse and Cabrera being dealt at the deadline for the 20-year-old to see Progressive Field by the end of the year. 

    Plus, with just 21 games at Double-A and still some room to fill out his frame for power, Lindor could use a little more seasoning in the minors. 

    Odds: 25-1

Colorado Rockies

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    Jonathan Gray, RHP

    Highest Level: High-A

    Age: 22

     

    Typically a pitcher with just 24 innings of experience at High-A wouldn't factor into a team's plans, but this is a case where numbers don't tell the whole story. 

    Jonathan Gray, the No. 3 pick in last year's draft, is a 22-year-old pitcher who had three years of experience at a major college program, putting him well ahead of the typical pitcher entering his first full season in professional baseball

    He's got one of the best arms in the minors, with a fastball that can touch 100 and a power slider that at times looks like the one Matt Harvey throws. Gray is a workhorse at 6'4", 255 pounds and commands the heater better than expected. 

    A start in Double-A, while aggressive, would put Gray on a path to Colorado by the end of the year. He's got the stuff to pitch out of the bullpen, if the Rockies want to manage his innings late in the season, but will be a huge asset in the rotation next year. 

    Odds: 15-1

Detroit Tigers

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    Nick Castellanos, 3B

    Highest Level: MLB

    Age: 22 (Turns 22 on March 4)

     

    When the Tigers traded Prince Fielder to put Miguel Cabrera at first base and open up a spot for you, Nick Castellanos' MLB stock rose hit an all-time high. 

    Chris Iott of MLive.com noted that general manager Dave Dombrowski plans to have Castellanos at third base to open the season, ending what little suspense was left after the Fielder trade to Texas. 

    Castellanos is a special hitter, owning some of the best plate coverage and bat control you will see from a young player. He can barrel balls on any part of the plate, smacking line drives all over the field. 

    I still see Castellanos having better doubles power than over-the-fence pop, but he's got enough raw strength to hit 18-20 homers. Combine that with the ability to hit .300 and post high on-base percentage totals, you have a star for the next decade. 

    Odds: Even

Houston Astros

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    Carlos Correa, SS

    Highest Level: Low-A

    Age: 19

     

    As dazzling as Carlos Correa's full season debut in 2013 was (.320/.405/.467 in 117 games as an 18-year-old), the Houston Astros have a clear plan in place for their top prospect that doesn't involve rushing him along. 

    He was so good last year that a move up to High-A wouldn't have been out of the question, despite starting the season as the third-youngest player in the Midwest League. 

    Correa's bat is so advanced that a move to Double-A this year wouldn't be aggressive, though he's still growing into his frame and won't hit for the kind of power you expect from a player this good. 

    There are also doubts about where Correa will play. He's listed as a shortstop and played there last year, but is listed at 6'4", 205 pounds and will only get bigger. He will probably end up at third base, but the bat will play anywhere. It just won't be in Houston this year. 

    Odds: 80-1

Kansas City Royals

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    Yordano Ventura, RHP

    Highest Level: MLB

    Age: 22

     

    I'm still in the camp that believes Yordano Ventura will get a job in Kansas City's rotation out of spring training. The Royals have a legitimate chance to make the postseason, or at least contend for a spot, and would benefit from giving the 22-year-old right-hander an extra 10 starts before waiting to delay his arbitration clock. 

    Vahe Gregorian of the Kansas City Star wrote that there's no reason Ventura shouldn't be the No. 5 starter, if he's given a fair chance. 

    Ventura’s upside is breathtaking, and even if he goes through some reasonable growing pains at the major-league level (and there’s a big difference between that and seeming out of his element), it’s worth priming the pump to get him where he’s going to be.

    Ventura made 14 starts at Triple-A last year, struck out 81 in 77 innings and really has nothing left to prove at that level. Maybe he could command the fastball better, but his velocity is so good that it's not going to do him any good to beat up minor leaguers again. 

    After making three starts late last season, it's time for the Royals to start the Yordano Ventura era for good in 2014. 

    Odds: 5-1

Los Angeles Angels

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    Taylor Lindsey, 2B

    Highest Level: Double-A

    Age: 22

     

    Of all the teams with a bad farm system, the Angels' is the saddest. Milwaukee is in worse shape because its top players are so far away, but at least there's hope with some of the toolsy players in the lower levels. 

    The Angels, on the other hand, have a lot of guys who profile as fringe-average regulars or relief pitchers. Top prospect Taylor Lindsey fits into the former category, showing a solid hit tool and some on-base skills but lacking impact as a mediocre defender with below-average power. 

    It doesn't help Lindsey's cause that he plays the same position as established big leaguer Howie Kendrick, who has two guaranteed years left on a four-year contract. 

    Unless Kendrick battles injuries, like he did last year, Lindsey is going to have a hard time cracking the Angels lineup in 2014. 

    Odds: 25-1

     

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Corey Seager, SS

    Highest Level: High-A

    Age: 19

     

    The Dodgers are going to be in an interesting position with some of their top prospects over the next two years. Joc Pederson has all the makings of a very good right fielder and won't need a lot more time in the minors, but the team already has a surplus of expensive outfielders and no idea what to do with them. 

    Corey Seager does have some wiggle room, as Juan Uribe is only signed up to play third base for two more years and Hanley Ramirez could leave via free agency after 2014, though Ramirez has said he wants to stay in LA. 

    Regardless, Seager will be a valuable asset for the Dodgers to use in their lineup or as a trade piece. He's got a gorgeous left-handed swing, with tremendous balance and plus raw power. 

    At 6'4", 215 pounds already, there's no way Seager stays at shortstop in the big leagues, but the bat will play at third base. The Dodgers will be able to use him, just not until 2015. 

    Odds: 75-1

Miami Marlins

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    Andrew Heaney, LHP

    Highest Level: Double-A

    Age: 22

     

    Last year, the Marlins introduced the world to Jose Fernandez much sooner than anyone expected. This year, while he isn't the same kind of pitcher, Andrew Heaney could give Fernandez a formidable battery mate at the top of Miami's rotation. 

    Heaney came out of Oklahoma State as a polished left-hander who could move quickly, but looked better than that in 2013. His fastball is an above-average offering thanks to low-90s velocity. 

    Heaney's slider took multiple steps forward last year, flashing plus with sharp tilt and great deception in the delivery. He pounds the strike zone and knows how to manipulate a baseball to keep hitters off balance. 

    Marlins vice president of player development Marty Scott told Joe Frisaro of MLB.com that it's "a long shot" that Heaney makes the MLB team out of spring training but did say "it wouldn't surprise me" if he did. 

    With just six starts at Double-A, Heaney could use a little more seasoning. He'll be in Miami by the end of June. 

    Odds: 12-1

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Tyrone Taylor, OF

    Highest Level: Low-A

    Age: 20

     

    If you want to be optimistic about Milwaukee's system heading into 2014, Tyrone Taylor is the face of the group. 

    A second-round pick in the 2012 draft, Taylor flashed all five tools at times in the Midwest League. He just turned 20, so there were, and are, some growing pains that have to be worked through. 

    At his peak, Taylor could be a plus defensive center fielder who steals a lot of bases and hits around .260-.270 with 15-20 homers. That is in a perfect-world scenario, which rarely happens with prospects. 

    Of course, we are talking about the long-term future. This year will be about Taylor just finding consistency from at-bat to at-bat and game to game in High-A. 

    Odds: 125-1

Minnesota Twins

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    Byron Buxton, OF

    Highest Level: High-A

    Age: 20

     

    Byron Buxton, also known as the best prospect in baseball, shot through A-ball faster than anyone could have predicted. He maintained that five-tool potential from high school and displayed more polish than expected in his first full season. 

    He played 57 games at High-A to end 2013, hitting an astounding .326/.415/.472 with 23 stolen bases and a 49-32 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 218 at-bats. Buxton is still growing into his power but will hit 25-30 homers in the near future. 

    Since the Twins aren't going to compete this year, combined with Buxton's need for more seasoning in the upper levels of the minors, his full impact won't be felt until 2015. But it's plausible the team could give him a look in August or September, if he has a season like he did last year. 

    Odds: 20-1

New York Mets

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    Noah Syndergaard, RHP

    Highest Level: Double-A

    Age: 21

     

    Even though we like to talk about minor leaguers forcing their way onto MLB rosters, a vast majority of the time teams don't bring up their top prospects unless/until a major injury occurs. (Excluding some service-time exceptions.)

    Noah Syndergaard would have factored into New York's plans this season anyway, but Matt Harvey's Tommy John surgery all but ensures the Mets will get a look at their top prospect around midseason. 

    Taking part in his first bullpen session of the spring on Monday, Syndergaard reportedly dazzled Mets officials with what manager Terry Collins "described as 97 miles per hour with a hook from hell." (via Anthony DiComo, MLB.com)

    The development of Syndergaard's curveball has been the biggest difference for him over the last year, showing better command and feel for the pitch. He's still working on a changeup that will need seasoning in the minors, but a June or July call-up seems in the cards. 

    Odds: 10-1

New York Yankees

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    Gary Sanchez, C

    Highest Level: Double-A

    Age: 21

     

    The Yankees' farm system is a mess right now. No one represents that messiness better than Gary Sanchez, who has all the potential in the world with explosive offensive tools and athleticism behind the plate but little discipline on the field. 

    Sanchez has tremendous raw power, launching balls over the wall with ease but looks off balance at the plate too often and doesn't show that pop in games. He doesn't barrel as many balls as his bat speed suggests, making it difficult to project him as an above-average hitter. 

    He's also an unrefined catcher, though the arm strength is plus. Blocking and receiving are still issues.

    Sanchez is still very gifted, but it's time to turn those tools into consistent performance. He's just 21 with 23 games of experience at Double-A, so there's no urgency. With Brian McCann taking over as the starting catcher in New York, and Francisco Cervelli a serviceable backup, Sanchez's time isn't likely to come until 2015. 

    Odds: 40-1

Oakland Athletics

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    Addison Russell, SS

    Highest Level: Double-A

    Age: 20

     

    Oakland is in a very enviable position heading into 2014. Jed Lowrie is coming off the first healthy year of his career, having played in 154 games last season. He collected a career-high 62 extra-base hits with a .344 on-base and .446 slugging percentage. 

    If Lowrie stays healthy, the Athletics will have one of the better shortstops in the American League this season. But should the old injury bug rear its ugly head again, Addison Russell is knocking on the doorstep. 

    Russell dazzled during a 55-game sample in 2012, playing in three different leagues and posting a 1.027 OPS with 26 extra-base hits and 16 stolen bases. He got off to a slow start in High-A last year, but turned things around quickly to post a .275/.377/.508 line before moving up to Triple-A for three games. 

    He's still got some adjustments to make in the field, taking some strange routes to balls hit to either side of him, but the athleticism and range play so well that he can make plays most shortstops can't. 

    It also helps that Russell has a muscular 6'0", 195-pound physique and has plus raw power that's already showing up in games. His bat speed and wrists are tremendous, making him ready for a spot in the big leagues very soon. 

    Odds: 8-1

Philadelphia Phillies

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    Maikel Franco, 3B

    Highest Level: Double-A

    Age: 21

     

    More than any other prospect you will see in the upper half of a top-100 list, Maikel Franco is the biggest boom-or-bust candidate. He's a one-dimensional talent, with good hit and power tools, but enough concerns in every other area that it's not likely he reaches his ceiling. 

    Franco does have excellent hand-eye coordination, making a lot of hard contact, which makes up for an over-aggressive approach that limits his ability to get on base. He's got plenty of raw power and translated it into games last year, hitting 31 homers in 134 games. 

    He's also got an unusual swing, with a huge load that is going to give him problems against MLB velocity, and no running speed whatsoever. Franco is so stiff in the field that a move to first base seems likely, though Ryan Howard is locked into a ridiculous contract for the next three years. 

    Assuming Franco's bat continues to play early in 2014, a cup of coffee late in the year could be in store, especially as a potential platoon partner for Howard at first base.

    He could also take over for Cody Asche at third base as a below-average defender with more offensive upside around midseason. 

    Odds: 20-1

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Gregory Polanco, OF

    Highest Level: Triple-A

    Age: 22

     

    There may not be a more desirable outfield situation in all of baseball than the one Pittsburgh's heading into 2014. Last year's NL MVP, Andrew McCutchen, is signed to a bargain contract through 2018. Starling Marte hit better than expected and locked down left field, while costing the Pirates next to nothing. 

    Then there is Gregory Polanco, the star outfield prospect who continues to grow into that monster potential. He's still learning to use his newfound muscle in games but has a great swing and should hit 20-25 homers in the not-too-distant future. 

    The Pirates will be able to call on Polanco, a natural center fielder, near midseason. He's got just two games of experience at Triple-A, and does have a long swing that will be tested against advanced pitching, so more time in the minors will do him good. 

    With Travis Snider and Andrew Lambo likely battling it out for the right field job, Polanco won't have to do much to be an improvement. His ability to play center field will make him a star defender in right and the bat will play well in a corner. 

    Odds: 6-1

San Diego Padres

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    Austin Hedges, C

    Highest Level: Double-A

    Age: 21

     

    If we are just talking about defense, Austin Hedges might be the most MLB-ready player in the minors. He's already an elite catcher with one of the best throwing arms you will see, good athleticism, excellent game-calling and framing skills, and blocking acumen. 

    There's nothing Hedges isn't capable of doing behind the plate. What makes him a future star is the ability with a bat. He's not going to hit more than 12-15 homers, but controls the plate so well that a high average and solid on-base percentage awaits. 

    Hedges runs well for a catcher, with the ability to steal 10 bases per season. He's still learning to hit velocity and recognize off-speed stuff, but the package is there and the results have shown, though a 20-game stint in Double-A last year showed some of the holes remaining in his game (.224/.297/.269). 

    If Hedges starts to hit in Double-A this year, the Padres won't have a reason to keep him in the minors. It's a close call, but my assumption is his only impact would be as a September call-up. 

    Odds: 30-1

San Francisco Giants

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    Kyle Crick, RHP

    Highest Level: High-A

    Age: 21

     

    Few pitchers are going to cause you to pull your hair out more than Kyle Crick. San Francisco's top prospect has an electric right arm, pumping fastballs that will touch 97-98 mph with good life and a slider that will flash plus. He also mixes in an at-times effective changeup. 

    Combine the arm strength with a 6'4", 225-pound frame, Crick certainly looks the part of a front-line starter. Unfortunately an important part of pitching is being able to throw strikes, which the 21-year-old doesn't do with any consistency. 

    Crick has an impressive 223 strikeouts in 180 innings since the start of 2012 but also has 106 walks. He's very much a thrower and must learn to control the ball in his hand in order to be an effective pitcher, let alone have any shot to reach his potential. 

    Because of the massive control problems, and lack of a consistent third pitch, Crick is going to spend all of 2014 in the minors trying to rebuild his falling stock and put himself on the radar for a big league job in 2015. 

    Odds: 100-1

     

Seattle Mariners

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    Taijuan Walker, RHP

    Highest Level: MLB

    Age: 21

     

    Taijuan Walker is hard to evaluate at this point in the spring. He ended 2013 in Seattle's rotation but still hadn't found a usable curveball and was cutting off his delivery at the end, leaving the fastball up in the zone. 

    The cherry on top of the sundae came at the start of spring training, when Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reported that Walker had shoulder soreness. Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon told Divish that it was "nothing major," but the issues with his mechanics could compound the problem when he returns. 

    He's still young enough and athletic enough to fix the problems in his delivery. Assuming the shoulder problem really is a minor issue, Walker has the potential to be a star right out of the gate for Seattle. 

    It's just difficult to provide an accurate forecast for Walker when there is so much that we don't know. 

    Odds: 15-1

St. Louis Cardinals

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    Oscar Taveras, OF

    Highest Level: Triple-A

    Age: 21

     

    There's no doubt in my mind that Oscar Taveras would have lost prospect eligibility last year, if not for an ankle injury that limited him to 47 minor league games. 

    The good news is the Cardinals didn't need Taveras, getting notable contributions from other rookies like Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal and Matt Adams en route to winning the National League pennant.

    Now, with Carlos Beltran in New York, there is no one blocking Taveras' path to the big leagues. He's going to need at-bats in Triple-A to make up for lost time last season but shouldn't require more than one or two months before arriving in St. Louis. 

    Taveras is a special kind of hitter. He's got tremendous bat speed, the best hand-eye coordination in the minors and an innate ability to drive the ball with authority to all fields. The 21-year-old is still growing into his power but has all the makings of a 25-30 homer player very soon.

    The Cardinals don't need more young talent, but Taveras will give them an impact bat to put in the middle of their order very soon. 

    Odds: 5-1

Tampa Bay Rays

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    Taylor Guerrieri, RHP

    Highest Level: Low-A

    Age: 21

     

    Considering how conservative the Rays are with their pitching prospects, usually moving them up one level per season, Taylor Guerrieri likely would have spent all of 2014 in High-A. 

    I say "would have" because Guerrieri isn't going to do much of anything at any level this year after undergoing Tommy John surgery last July. It was an unfortunate set of circumstances, because the right-hander continued to impress with advanced command (12 walks in 67 innings last year) and feel for pitching. 

    Guerrieri can show premium velocity on the fastball, but he's at his best throwing in 91-93 mph and getting late sink on the pitch. He's also got a plus curveball and understands how to manipulate a baseball to keep hitters off balance. 

    He will be a huge part of Tampa Bay's rotation in the future, but nothing will be proven in 2014. 

    Odds: 500-1

Texas Rangers

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    Rougned Odor, 2B

    Highest Level: Double-A

    Age: 20

     

    Rougned Odor enters 2014 in an interesting, if unenviable, spot. He's coming off a breakout season split between High-A and Double-A in which he hit .305/.365/.474 with 41 doubles, 11 homers and 32 stolen bases. 

    With just 30 games at Double-A, there is no doubt Odor is due for more time in the minors. He's still got work to do as a defender at second base and making a little more contact since walks aren't going to be a huge part of his game. 

    But Odor has such a good feel for hitting and better power than his 5'11", 170-pound frame suggests that he's going to work his way onto the MLB radar this season. 

    However, therein lies the problem Odor faces. Texas traded Ian Kinsler in the offseason to make Jurickson Profar the everyday second baseman. Profar is the superior talent and is just one year older than Odor. 

    The Rangers could use Odor as the centerpiece of a trade at midseason, if they so choose. Eventually a decision will have to be made, because the minors aren't going to present him with a challenge much longer. 

    Odds: 30-1

Toronto Blue Jays

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    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Marcus Stroman, RHP

    Highest Level: Double-A

    Age: 22

     

    Marcus Stroman has yet to get a taste of Triple-A, but his combination of stuff, polish and performance at Double-A in 2013 proved that he was ready for the Show. 

    There will always be questions about Stroman's future role until he proves himself in the big leagues. Those that love him, as I do, see a starting pitcher who knows how to attack hitters with an explosive fastball that he can also cut, a nasty slider and above-average changeup. 

    Those with questions about Stroman will (fairly) point out that it's rare for a 5'9" pitcher to endure 180-200 innings every year, and think the Blue Jays would be better off using him out of the bullpen, possibly as a closer or high-leverage reliever. 

    Until Stroman proves he can't handle starting, there is no reason for the Blue Jays to mess with him. After all, he had a 129-27 strikeout-to-walk ratio with just 99 hits allowed in 111.2 innings last year. 

    Whatever role the team chooses for Stroman, he's going to be pitching in Toronto very soon, especially if the Blue Jays aren't able to add another starter via free agency. 

    Odds: 5-1

Washington Nationals

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    Lucas Giolito, RHP

    Highest Level: Short Season

    Age: 19

     

    No pitcher will have more helium by the end of 2014 than Washington Nationals 2012 first-round pick Lucas Giolito. The 19-year-old right-hander has all the makings of a No. 1 starter, including an explosive fastball that touches triple digits, plus-plus curveball and good feel for a changeup. 

    Giolito is already 6'6", 225 pounds and uses every bit of that size to pound the ball down in the zone. He's a star waiting to happen, though not without question marks. 

    The biggest question is how Giolito will handle his first full season back after having Tommy John surgery two months after being the 16th pick in the draft. He did get 36.2 innings in short-season ball last year to remind everyone why he's awesome, but now comes the real test. 

    It is because of his elbow injury, which delayed the start of his career, that Giolito won't be a factor for Washington's rotation until 2016 at the earliest. He's going to get a lot of attention because the stuff is so good, but the team knows better than to push an arm like this too hard. 

    Odds: 125-1

     

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