2010 MLB Predictions: Projecting Where This Year's Rookies WIll Be in Five Years
The 2010 baseball rookie class is very deep, filled with future All-Stars, and a few players that could one day be enshrined in Cooperstown.
There will be players that have great rookie campaigns, only to see a drop-off in production in the next few years. Conversely, some rookies will struggle just to get playing time, but will go on to have great careers.
Just five years ago, the game saw a great influx of talent that included Hanley Ramirez, Justin Verlander, Ryan Zimmerman, Jonathan Papelbon, and Prince Fielder.
Some of the players will join perennial contenders, while others will be expected to be the face of their franchise. Most of the names will be easily recognizable but some are flying under the radar to success.
10. Wade Davis- Pitcher
The latest prize from the Tampa Bay Rays' stellar minor league system is Wade Davis.
Davis was inserted into the rotation last season after Scott Kazmir was traded to the Angels. He responded by pitching a complete-game shutout and struck out 10 against the Orioles to win his first big league game.
He will start the 2010 season as the fifth starter for the Rays and complete one of the deepest rotations in the game.
Davis has a heavy fastball and good curveball already in his arsenal. If he can get his changeup or slider to improve, he'll become dominant on the mound.
Looking ahead, he could very easily be right next to David Price at the top of the Rays' rotation in a few years, striking out 200 hitters every year.
9. Brian Matusz- Pitcher
Brian Matusz is thought by many to have a more promising future than his fellow rookie, Stephen Strasburg.
Matusz will start the season at the back of the Orioles' rotation, but it won't be long until he becomes the ace of the staff.
The tall lefty has above-average stuff. His fastball sits in the low 90s, he has a great changeup, and his curveball and slider are both effective pitches.
Matusz's best asset is his mind. He knows how to pitch, work a count, and do what is needed to get hitters out.
He went 5-2 with a 4.63 ERA at the end of the 2009 season for the Orioles. Kevin Millwood will serve as a good mentor for the 23-year-old. In a few years, he will reign as one of the top left-handed pitchers in the game.
Along with Adam Jones and Matt Wieters, Matusz will serve as the face of a rebuilding Orioles franchise in the coming years.
8. Jesus Montero- Catcher
No player will have as big of shoes to fill in the coming years than 20-year-old Jesus Montero of the New York Yankees.
Montero is the heir-apparent to Jorge Posada as the future Yankees backstop, although some speculate he could play some first base and DH.
Montero has never played about Double-A, but he will start the year at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2010. An injury could see an early call-up to the Yankees, but he likely won't be on the roster until September.
Many feel Montero could be used as trade bait as the Yankees also have top catching prospect Austin Romine, but it would be hard to trade a player so valuable to the franchise once Posada retires.
Five years from now, Montero will be in a position to be a leader of the Yankees. Posada will be gone. Derek Jeter very likely could be retired as well. Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira will be nearing the end of their careers as well.
The leader of the next generation of Yankee stars will be headed by Montero, and it won't be long until he sits next to other Yankee catching greats like Posada, Munson, and Berra.
7. Logan Morrison- First Base
The Florida Marlins have been looking for a bat to put in the middle of their order behind Hanley Ramirez—and Logan Morrison may very well be it.
The first baseman was injured for the first two months of 2009, hindering his advancement through the system. He's now healthy and poised to take the next step in 2010.
A poor spring training will cause Morrison to start the year in the minors, but he could get called up very early if Gaby Sanchez struggles at all. There has also been talk about Morrison moving to left field in order to keep both in the same lineup.
Morrison has great power and plate discipline, causing many to feel he will one day hit third for the Marlins. He is also a plus defender at first with a strong arm. Should he move to the outfield, his arm will make him a valuable defensive weapon.
The Marlins want to remain competitive, especially with their new ballpark opening in a few years. Morrison will become a key bat in their order, and one of the main reasons to come watch the club in Miami over the next several years.
6. Pedro Alvarez- Third Base
There's nothing like expectations for a young player, and Pedro Alvarez is widely thought of as the best hitting prospect drafted by the Pirates since Barry Bonds.
Alvarez will start 2010 in the minors, but make no mistake, it won't be long before he's manning third base in Pittsburgh on an every-day basis.
Many felt that Alvarez would be the face of the resurgent Pirates organization. Andrew McCutchen may have taken that title from him, but the 23-year-old slugger will still be as valuable as anyone in the system.
Although he isn't a great defender, he should hold his own at the hot corner. If his weight continues to be an issue, he could get moved to first base in the future.
The most exciting aspect of Alvarez's game is his power. Most feel he is a future 40-home-run-a-year player. He will be the muscle behind all the speed in the current lineup.
The Pirates are doing everything possible to rectify 18 years of losing. It may not get turned around in 2010, but once Pedro Alvarez establishes himself in Pittsburgh, the losing ways will become a distant memory for the Pirates and their fans.
5. Buster Posey- Catcher
There aren't many young players that will step into a situation like the one Buster Posey has in front of him.
He'll get to catch arguably the best pitching staff in the game, and hit next to one of the best young hitters in the game, Pablo Sandoval. Of course, that is Posey's future. He'll start 2010 at Triple-A Fresno.
Since being drafted in the first round of the 2008 draft, Posey has skyrocketed through the Giants system. At the first sign of trouble this year with Bengie Molina, fans should expect the 23-year-old backstop to get a long look in San Francisco.
Most expect Posey to be a future All Star, and he will be the focal point of an ever-improving Giants lineup. Any offense he provides will only aid his success in catching Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and the rest of the deep pitching staff.
Comparisons to Joe Mauer have already started, but Posey isn't as homegrown like Mauer was for the Twins. Going forward, however, Posey may prove just as valuable to the Giants as Mauer is to the Twins.
4. Alcides Escobar- Shortstop
The Milwaukee Brewers believe in Alcides Escobar so much that they decided to trade JJ Hardy in the offseason, giving Escobar the job this season with no competition.
Escobar has already been compared to Omar Vizquel defensively. His superior range and cannon-like arm will save the pitchers a lot of base runners this year, and help improve one of the worst rotations in all of baseball last year.
Despite the fact that baseball has turned into a power game, speed still kills. Escobar has plenty of speed to burn, and he could turn into a 50-steals-a year threat.
Escobar has improved his plate discipline in the minors, and many feel he could eventually be a .300 hitter for the Brewers.
He'll start the year at the bottom of the lineup for the Brewers, but he will eventually be pushed into the leadoff role over the next couple of years.
Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder will continue to get all the headlines for any success the Brewers have, but Escobar will evolve into one of the most exciting players in all of baseball.
3. Dominic Brown- Outfielder
When the Toronto Blue Jays were looking over the Phillies' organization prior to the Roy Halladay deal, the one name they kept trying to acquire was Dominic Brown.
The Phillies refused to part with Brown—and for good reason. Jayson Werth will be a free agent after 2010 and Raul Ibanez after 2011. Brown will slot himself into one of the corner outfielder positions and become a star in Philadelphia.
Brown has drawn comparisons to Darryl Strawberry, and he should be a five-tool stud in the majors.
He possesses good power already, but as the 22-year-old ages, that power should only grow.
Brown will start the year at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but any injury to the Phillies outfield will see him be the first one called up to Philly.
This should be the last year he doesn't enter the season as a starter, and he very well could become the focal point of an already great lineup in a few years.
2. Stephen Strasburg- Pitcher
Viewed by many as the top prospect in the game, Stephen Strasburg already has the weight of a franchise on his shoulders.
Strasburg will start the year in the minors, but don't expect him to stay there very long. He could have quite easily been named to the Opening Day roster, but the Nationals want to delay the start of his service time.
He'll be a big boost as an attraction in the minors, but his true value won't be known until he gets to Washington.
The only thing lacking in Strasburg's game is experience. His fastball, curveball, and changeup are all Major League-ready pitches.
His mental make-up is just as good. He's dominated on every level, and most feel he is a once-in-a-generation pitcher.
Strasburg is still only 21 years old, so he has plenty of time to make an impact. In five years, he very well could be the best pitcher in baseball. However, if he lives up to the hype, that honor may happen much sooner than that.
1. Jason Heyward- Outfielder
Jason Heyward is the latest in a two-decade long infusion of young talent into the Atlanta Braves system—and very likely the best. With names like Chipper and Andruw Jones, Brian McCann, and Tommy Hanson, that just speaks to Heyward's talents.
The pressure is already on Heyward, having been compared to Fred McGriff and Ken Griffey, Jr. Although with his poise and work ethic, one would never know that the weight of the world is on his shoulders.
There's nothing on the field Heyward can't do. He has great range in the field with a very strong arm. He will be able to steal a base when needed. He has the plate discipline of a 10-year veteran, and he has power that will only improve in the coming years.
The Braves decided to go for it in Bobby Cox's last season when they named Heyward the starter in right field. Cox is great with young players, and having so many great veterans around him will ease his transition as a starter.
Heyward is the clear favorite to win the NL Rookie of the Year award. It should be the first in a career filled with awards and honors.
Once Chipper Jones retires, Heyward will step in as the face of the Braves organization.
In fact, in a few years he may very well be the face of the sport, showing talent and athleticism not shown by very many in the history of the game.