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The Carlos Correa countdown is on. The Houston Astros—check that, the AL West-leading Houston Astros, who sport the best record in the American League at 18-8 entering play Tuesday—suddenly find themselves in a position where promoting their young shortstop and No. 1 prospect to the majors might come sooner than expected and would make plenty of sense for a few reasons.

First, there's the recent injury to Jed Lowrie, the club's starting shortstop who will be out until after the All-Star break with a torn ligament in his right thumb, according to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.

Lowrie was playing very well in his return to the Astros, hitting .300/.432/.567 in 18 games. His loss means Houston has been forced to try to hold down the fort at short by turning to the likes of Jonathan Villar and Marwin Gonzalez, neither of whom is worthy of starting at the position for a team that actually is looking to return to relevance, if not contention in 2015.

Speaking of which, reason No. 2 has to do with just that. The Astros, of course, have been undergoing a necessary and extremely lengthy rebuilding process in recent years. They are coming off six straight losing seasons, tying them with the New York Mets for the longest active stretch of nonwinning campaigns in baseball.

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USA Today

Early arrivals by some of baseball's top prospects turned out to be a major storyline during the season's first month.

The Chicago Cubs captured all the headlines with their decision to promote phenoms Kris Bryant and Addison Russell, but we've also seen the big league debuts of other highly regarded prospects such as Carlos Rodon (White Sox), Kevin Plawecki (Mets), A.J. Cole (Nationals) and Michael Lorenzen (Reds).

However, those are just a few players in what should be a steady influx of young talent into the majors throughout the season.  

Using Bleacher Report's ranking of the 100 Future MLB Stars, here is an in-depth look at the early returns on baseball's five-best prospects in 2015.

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It’s hard to not get excited when projecting the future impacts of baseball’s top prospects. Unfortunately, with that excitement usually come unreasonable expectations, which, when not met, can cause younger players to be unfairly perceived as “disappointments.”

These players won’t necessarily have bad years, but it might be difficult for them to live up to the high expectations ascribed to them at the beginning of the season. Of course, expectations for prospects come in all different shapes and sizes, as one player might be expected to make an impact in the major leagues, while another is expected to prove he belongs at a certain level in the minors.

With all that said, here are seven top MLB prospects who won’t live up to sky-high expectations in 2015.

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The 2015 minor league season has just begun, but it's never too early to take note of the hottest-starting prospects around.

In fact, we've done so for all 30 clubs as April is entering its final week.

To be considered, a player must be prospect eligible—meaning, he has not yet exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the majors—and also must be in the minors at the moment.

That last part eliminates, say, Addison Russell of the Chicago Cubs, Archie Bradley of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Carlos Rodon of the Chicago White Sox.

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USA Today

The Chicago Cubs aren’t messing around.

Days after calling up uberprospect Kris Bryant, the Cubs called up phenom Addison Russell on Tuesday, a move that Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported.

Russell was in Pittsburgh for Tuesday night’s game and made his major league debut at second base.

While the news of Russell’s promotion comes as a surprise, there had been growing speculation that the Cubs might turn to the 21-year-old sooner rather than later after shifting him from shortstop to second base late last week. However, few expected him to get the call this soon.

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Back in spring training, before the real fake games began, as it were, we provided two sets of sleepers. It's time for a few more.

The first was a batch of 25 names to know, primarily for shallow leagues. The second set comprised 20 more players who qualified as even deeper sleepers.

Well, this is where we, inspired by Friday's promotion of stud prospect Kris Bryant, provide you with yet another select group of all new players who could go from under the radar to household names—as in, someone even your parents might have heard of soon enough—ideally before the first half of the 2015 season is over.

That eliminates several top prospects, like Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Joey Gallo, Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton, who likely are a bit too far off for first-half impact.

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The 2015 minor league baseball season is just over a week old, but there already have been countless impressive performances by top-ranked prospects—both hitters and pitchers—with many of those players also making immediate impacts at new, more challenging levels.

So, which players are off to the best starts, you ask?

After sifting through endless box scores, I've included seven of the most impressive prospects from the past week below, with an emphasis on those who appeared in Bleacher Report’s 100 Future MLB Stars.

 

Michael Conforto, LF, New York Mets

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The arrival of generational stars Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and Manny Machado in the major leagues during the 2012 season set a new standard for all future rookie classes.

Yet, despite the lofty expectations, the overall influx of young talent in the major leagues last season was just as impressive as the now-legendary 2012 class.

Top-ranked prospects such as Jacob deGrom, Gregory Polanco, George Springer and Marcus Stroman made an immediate impact last year upon reaching the major leagues, and they since have justified the hype ascribed to them at the onset of their respective careers.

Still, all of the aforementioned players began the season in the minor leagues. This year should be no different, as there's another promising collection of potential superstars on the verge of reaching The Show.

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USA Today

The 2015 Minor League Baseball season kicked off last week, with games being played across all four full-season levels. 

This year, each level features countless top pitching prospects, as many of the game's best young arms are either stationed in the low minors or are on the cusp of reaching the major leagues.

Earlier in the week, we looked at the five best hitting prospects at each level, highlighting guys such as Ozhaino Albies, Clint Frazier, Carlos Correa and Kris Bryant. Now, it's time to do the same with pitchers.

With that said, here are the top five pitchers from the Low-A, High-A, Double-A and Triple-A levels, respectively, at the onset of the 2015 season.

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If we were to only look at a team's record and place in the standings, picking the winners and losers of the biggest trades made this past offseason in baseball would be simple. But where’s the fun in that?

From All-Stars to MVP and Cy Young Award candidates, players who run the gamut of individual success at the major league level—and some who have yet to get a taste of big league action—found themselves on the move this past winter.

So, let's take a closer look at the teams and players involved in these deals and see which ones are the biggest winners and losers this early in the 2015 MLB season.

 

Winners: San Diego Padres