Being labeled a top prospect in any sport, especially baseball, doesn't guarantee success and stardom at the game's highest level. Those who develop into Bryce Harper- or Mike Trout-like superstars are the exception, not the rule.
That doesn't mean there's not a lot of young star power on the horizon, whether it be a player who's just getting his major league career started or a prospect who has yet to make his big league debut. But only a select few have the total package to become baseball's "next big thing."
The criteria for inclusion, which we’ve used in previous versions of this list, remains the same, but we've added a fourth prerequisite to make entry a bit more difficult:
- The player cannot have completed a "full season" in MLB (400 or more at-bats or 150 innings for starting pitchers).
- Each player must be under the age of 25 as of Opening Day 2016.
- The player must be expected to play at the MLB level during the 2016 season (whether all year long or as an in-season call-up).
- The player cannot have appeared in an All-Star Game or won any individual MLB awards.
Aside from that, the selection process came down to my own projections and expectations for each player, based on past performance (both in the majors and minors) as well as whether there was a clear path to playing time.
That last part is why you won't find Texas' talented trio of Lewis Brinson, Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara on the pages that follow, while players like the Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant and Houston's Carlos Correa were eliminated by one (or more) of our four selection criteria.
But nobody would argue that Bryant and Correa didn't emerge as their respective division's next big thing in 2015. The six players we're about to take a look at are poised to follow in their footsteps this season.