2014 MLB Rookies Who Are Being Touted Too Early

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistMarch 2, 2014

2014 MLB Rookies Who Are Being Touted Too Early

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    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

    One of the most exciting parts of spring training is getting a first look at some of the game's future stars, and each year there are at least a handful of rookies who enter camp with a good chance of securing an everyday job from day one.

    It's hard not to get excited about the potential of a promising young player. As a result, expectations sometimes wind up inflated and prospects get over-touted.

    With that in mind, here is a look at five prospects with a good chance at breaking camp with the big league club who are being touted too early and could wind up disappointing as rookies.

2B Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    2013 Stats

    LevelGBA/OBP/SLGH2B3BHRRBIRSB
    AAA107.303/.369/.46612521810456820
    MLB 32.153/.194/.16991000 63

     

    Why He May Disappoint

    The St. Louis Cardinals' decision to trade David Freese this offseason set off a domino effect. Matt Carpenter will shift from second base to third base, and the second base job will presumably go to prospect Kolten Wong.

    Wong was selected with the No. 22 pick in the 2011 draft, and he enters the season ranked as the No. 58 prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America. The 23-year-old hit .301/.365/.446 in three minor league seasons.

    As good as he's been in the minors, he struggled over a 59 at-bat cup of coffee down the stretch last year. Perhaps most telling was the Cardinals' signing of Mark Ellis to a one-year, $5.25 million deal this offseason.

    For a team looking to win it all in 2014, the leash for Wong may not be a very long one, and it could wind up being Ellis who sees the bulk of the at-bats if the rookie struggles.

SP Yordano Ventura, Kansas City Royals

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    Ed Zurga/Getty Images

    2013 Stats

    LevelG/GSW-LERAWHIPBBKIP
    AA11/113-22.341.023207457.2
    AAA15/145-43.741.468338177
    MLB3/30-13.521.23961115.1

     

    Why He May Disappoint

    There's little question Yordano Ventura has one of the best fastballs in all of baseball. The right-hander averaged 97.5 miles per hour on the pitch last season and threw it 65.4 percent of the time, according to FanGraphs.

    Impressive as that velocity is, opponents hit .320 with a .440 slugging percentage against the pitch last season, according to Brooks Baseball. He complements his fastball with a curveball/changeup combination, but both pitches are average at best, and he will need to develop them further if he hopes to remain a starter.

    Some are looking to Ventura as a possible answer at the back of the rotation, and while he could certainly make an impact if his secondary stuff comes along, the more likely scenario at this point is that he winds up as a late-inning reliever.

3B Nick Castellanos, Detroit Tigers

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    2013 Stats

    LevelGBA/OBP/SLGH2B3BHRRBIRSB
    AAA134.276/.343/.4501473711876814
    MLB 11.278/.278/.27850000 10

     

    Why He May Disappoint

    The No. 1 prospect in the Detroit Tigers system by a decent margin, Nick Castellanos opens the season as the No. 25 prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America. Drafted as a third baseman, he was shifted to left field last year, but he now moves back to the hot corner with Miguel Cabrera shifting back to first base following the Prince Fielder trade.

    Consistently one of the youngest players in the league throughout his time in the minors, the 21-year-old spent a full season in Triple-A last year and more than held his own. That said, his numbers were a far cry from the .405/.461/.553 line he put up over 215 at-bats at the High-A level in 2012.

    The team doesn't have much in the way of options should he falter, and moving Cabrera back to third and Victor Martinez to first looks like the most likely backup plan.

    Castellanos has all of the tools to be a perennial .300 hitter, but there will undoubtedly be some growing pains in 2014. Something like a .250/.310/.400 line with 12 home runs and 55 RBI may be his best-case scenario as a rookie.

SP Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    2013 Stats

    LevelG/GSW-LERAWHIPBBKIP
    Japan28/2724-01.270.94332183212

     

    Why He May Disappoint

    Expectations are incredibly high for right-hander Masahiro Tanaka in his first season in the United States for a number of reasons—the biggest of which is undoubtedly the seven-year, $155 million deal he signed this offseason.

    With a number of offers on the table, he chose to sign with the New York Yankees, and his debut season will be under a microscope as a result. The team is counting on him to make an impact behind CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda in the rotation as it looks to return to the postseason.

    Many will be expecting an ace performance given the contract he signed, but matching the line that Yu Darvish put up as a rookie when he went 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA and 10.4 K/9 may be the best-case scenario.

    His success will rely heavily on his splitter, how quickly he gets a feel for life in the big leagues and how well he can handle the pressures of pitching in New York.

CF Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds

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    Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

    2013 Stats

    LevelGBA/OBP/SLGH2B3BHRRBIRSB
    AAA123.256/.308/.3431291846417575
    MLB 13.368/.429/.47472001 913

     

    Why He May Disappoint

    With Shin-Soo Choo gone in free agency, the Reds are set to turn center field and leadoff duties over to speedster Billy Hamilton. The 23-year-old made headlines in 2012, when he stole a minor league record 155 bases between High-A and Double-A while also hitting a solid .311/.410/.420.

    He was an impressive 13-of-14 on stolen-base attempts for the Reds down the stretch last season, but it's hard to ignore his Triple-A line of .256/.308/.343 prior to being called up.

    That's an OBP 115 points lower than what Choo posted atop the lineup last season, and it's conceivable that his percentage could drop below .300 at the big league level. If that's the case, the Reds could have a major hole in center field, and Hamilton could be a big disappointment as a rookie.