The future is now in MLB.
Maybe it's the media hype, or maybe it's purely the overwhelming amounts of talent coming up through the minor league systems around the league, but it is clear that the future appears bright for MLB.
Fixtures in baseball like Derek Jeter and Chipper Jones have limited years left before they walk off into the Hall of Fame, and you can bet there will be plenty of young players vying for their spots as some of MLB's most coveted and popular players.
There are dozens of talented young players who will have large impacts on their respective teams in the future, but for the sake of this list I only chose players who permanently joined their big league club after the start of the 2010 season—so a player like Jason Heyward did not make the cut.
Here are the 15 Hottest Young Athletes in Baseball.
Another player in the long line of top prospects for the Kansas City Royals, Mike Moustakas looks to be one who will finally live up to his potential.
Moustakas slugged 10 home runs to go with 44 RBI through Triple-A Omaha's first 55 games this season. He doesn't strike out much and he should be able to put up 25-30 home runs per season in Kansas City.
His defense at the hot corner has shown drastic improvement since the 2008-09 seasons, and Moustakas is vital to the Royals finally turning the corner as a franchise.
While his 2011 season has been full of disappointment and injuries, there is no doubt that Brandon Belt will be a key component to the San Francisco Giants' future success.
After being sent down to Triple-A Fresno in April, Belt was off to a fast start in 2011 with a .337 average and a .994 OPS through 31 games.
After being called-up again in late-May, Belt took a pitch off of his wrist and has been on the DL ever since.
The Giants need his broken wrist to heal well and soon, because they will need Belt's bat in the lineup to have a chance at defending their title.
If Domonic Brown can somehow find the same success in Philadelphia that he has found throughout the minor leagues, then he may be the answer for the Phillies stagnant offense so far this season.
Through a mere 16 games in the minor leagues this season, Brown had a superb .350 batting average and 1.031 OPS. He was hitting for power and he proved that he could take walks.
Brown has yet been able to find similar success in the majors, hitting only .236 through his first 157 at-bats in 2011—although he does have four home runs and has walked almost as many times as he has struck out.
At this point, the Phillies may need to be patient with their young slugger and let him find his groove. Although when you are playing for the NL's best team, patience may not be an option.
Shelby Miller is quickly working his way up through the Cardinals' system and if his performance continues, the team may be forced to make him a September call-up to help them in their quest for an NL Central title.
Through stops at Single-A+ and Double-A this season, Miller has compiled a 2.50 ERA and 1.123 WHIP—including a sparkling 2.08 ERA through his first five starts in Double-A.
Miller has tallied 129 strikeouts through only 100.2 innings, and at this rate it may be a bit easier for the Cardinals to swallow a future without Chris Carpenter entering 2012.
Starlin Castro has the most MLB experience out of anyone on this list after being called up a few months into the 2010 season. Needless to say, Castro has never looked back.
Through his first 200 MLB games, Castro compiled 244 hits for a .310 average. He also tallied 52 doubles and so far in 2011 has an OPS-plus of 112.
While his defense has been suspect at times, Castro has shown progress in a season mired by a couple of atrocious defensive games.
With a makeover soon coming for the Chicago Cubs, Castro looks to be the leading man in resuscitating the struggling franchise.
The second overall pick behind Steven Strasburg in the 2009 MLB Draft, Dustin Ackley just reached the big leagues and is quickly helping Mariners' fans forget about what could have been.
After showing steady improvement with his bat and his glove last season, the second baseman got off to a fast start in Triple-A Tacoma in 2011—slugging nine home runs with 35 RBI while batting .303 through the teams first 66 games.
Through his first 24 games in Seattle, Ackley has a .274 batting average while getting moved from the seven-spot up to the two-hole. He also holds a 129 OPS+ with four doubles, two triples and three home runs.
Eric Hosmer dominated at every level in his minor league career. It should come as no surprise that he has high expectations to do the same in Kansas City.
Hosmer began his MLB career with a bang—already hitting a pair of game-winning hits to lift the struggling Royals to victories. He has quickly become a fan favorite in Kansas City and their future success may rest largely on his shoulders—and his bat.
With all of the top young prospects in Kansas City—led by the slugging Hosmer—one can only believe that the tides will soon change for the Royals' franchise.
Jeremy Hellickson burst onto the scene late during the 2010 season—going 4-0 in his first four starts to jump-start the Tampa Bay Rays rotation.
He has proved that the sneak-peek was no fluke through the first half of 2011—going 8-7 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.148 ERA through his first 16 starts in Tampa.
Hellickson has a 112 ERA+ so far this season and he looks to be an integral piece in getting the Rays ahead of the Red Sox and Yankees in the AL East.
Although his numbers are a bit down to begin the 2011 season, there is no shortness of talent when it comes to young catcher Jesus Montero.
His offensive prowess has never been an issue—he hits for power and he hits for average. Critics will harp on his defensive skills, saying his future is somewhere other than behind home plate.
Montero has shown some improvement behind the plate this season, where he currently sits with a .995 fielding percentage to go with only two errors through Scranton/Wilkes-Barres' first 74 games.
Either way, the future is bright for Montero. He may be a hot commodity come the trade deadline, as well.
Fresh off of winning his second International League Player of the Week award of the season, Julio Teheran looks destined for a Braves' uniform sometime in the near future.
Teheran has mercilessly subdued all of his minor league opponents in 2011—going 10-1 with a 1.70 ERA and a 1.023 WHIP through 16 starts for his Triple-A Gwinnett squad.
With 87 strikeouts through 100.2 innings while giving up only two home runs to date, Teheran has shown the ability to consistently find the strike zone and has steadily improved during each season of minor league ball.
We've been waiting to see Desmond Jennings in action for two years now. By the looks of it, Jennings will be a fixture in Tampa Bay by the end of July.
Jennings will be the next Carl Crawford for Tampa Bay—he can hit for average, he has some power and he can steal plenty of bags. Jennings also provides solid defense at all three outfield positions.
While the 12 home runs he has put up so far this season in Triple-A may not be the typical we will see out of Jennings when he finally latches on with Tampa, there is no doubt that he is making it very difficult for the Rays to keep him in Durham much longer.
At only 19-years old, Mike Trout is already in his third season of minor league ball. By the time his fourth professional season rolls around, Trout will no doubt be in an Angels uniform.
At his latest stop in Double-A Arkansas, Trout has raked to the tune of a .324 average and .534 slugging percentage with a .950 OPS. Those are not the kind of numbers the Angels will let dwindle away down in the minor leagues much longer—especially when you consider that is not typical production from a center fielder.
The Angels may have a gem on their hands with Trout—who has already slugged nine home runs and tallied 28 stolen bases through his teams' first 75 games.
Trout backs up his game with solid defense, and we could be seeing him in Los Angeles in the very near future.
(NOTE: Trout has since been called up to the Angels. Told ya he'd be up soon.)
Whoever didn't know of Michael Pineda before the 2011 season began surely knows of him now.
Although some seemed surprised that he made the opening day roster for Seattle, Pineda has quickly proved any doubters wrong by blistering opposing batters to open the season.
Pineda currently stands at 8-6 with a superb 3.03 ERA and 1.035 WHIP—helping his Mariners remain in contention in a weak AL West.
Through 18 starts spanning 113 innings, Pineda has struck out 113 batters and has a nice 122 ERA+—making him 11.0 percent better than the average starting pitcher.
If Pineda continues his dominance, it appears the forecast in Seattle will call for many fewer rainy days.
At this point, Anthony Rizzo may be best known for being the centerpiece of the deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez to the Boston Red Sox. You can be sure that Rizzo is quickly making a name for himself on the baseball field, as well.
Rizzo dominated Triple-A pitching to start the season, crushing 16 home runs and 20 doubles while driving in 63 RBI—through only 52 games. His .365 average and 1.165 OPS only begin to paint the picture of the talent lying in Rizzo.
He hasn't found his groove since being called-up by the Padres earlier this month, but you can bet that his future in San Diego is bright.
While many people don't like his glaring cockiness, there is no denying that Bryce Harper may very well be the future of MLB.
In reality, Harper may be a boy among men. Yet by the way he plays, he appears to be man among boys.
At his first stop in the minors for Single-A Hagerstown, Harper has been nothing short of terrific. He is batting .318 with a .977 OPS. He has 14 home runs, 46 RBI and 19 stolen bases at this point, and he seems to be getting better by the day.
It may be unlikely that Harper sees any time in Washington this season, but it is clear that he and Steven Strasburg form the best—if not most intriguing—pair of prospects in MLB.
(NOTE: Harper has since been called up to Double-A Harrisburg, batting .194 through his first 35 plate appearances)