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USA Today

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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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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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AP Images

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

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Alex Brandon/AP Images

Welcome to Bleacher Report's 100 Future MLB Stars.

The goal of the project is to assess players' individual skills using unique scoring systems for each spot on the diamond to determine who is most equipped to have an impact in the major leagues.

For position players, this meant looking at their five respective tools (using the 20-80 scouting scale): hitting, power, speed, arm strength and defense. We tailored the distribution of points to fit each position, meaning first basemen are held to a higher power standard, catchers are held to a higher defense standard and so on. 

For pitchers, we looked at their fastball/velocity, best breaking ball, changeup and command. And since we’re dealing strictly with prospects, we focused solely on pitchers who project as starters long term. So, no relievers.

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AP Images

The Red Sox's 2015 home opener Monday belonged to Mookie Betts, who had highlights with his bat, glove and legs in Boston's decisive 9-4 win against the Washington Nationals.

This may become a trend for the 22-year-old center field. He has continued to amaze with his athleticism, tools and feel for the game since debuting last season.

By now, you’ve likely seen his memorable plays from the first two innings of the game, but just to recap: Betts robbed Bryce Harper of a home run in the first inning with a fully extended, leaping catch over the right-center field fence and then showcased his tremendous speed and instincts in the bottom half by stealing both second and third base on the same play following a leadoff walk.

In the second inning, Betts turned around an inside fastball from Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann for a three-run homer, a no-doubter over Fenway’s Green Monster. (And just for good measure, he plated a run with an infield single in the third.)

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Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015 Minor League Baseball season kicked off Thursday, with games being played across all four full-season levels. The day was full of standout performances from many of baseball’s most promising young hitters.

Making his full-season debut with Low-A Greenville, 2014 first-round draft pick Michael Chavis (No. 26 overall) cranked a game-tying home run in the seventh inning and then came back in the ninth to deliver a walk-off double.

Minnesota Twins third base prospect Miguel Sano, who missed the entire 2014 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, played in a game for the first time since late 2013 and picked up where he left off with a solo home run.

And while he’s not much of a prospect, we’d be remiss not to mention the Opening Day performance of New York Yankees outfield prospect Ramon Flores, who hit for the cycle as part of a 4-for-4 performance that included three runs scored, two RBI and a walk.

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Associated Press

The hype and excitement that surrounded Yoan Moncada and his decision to sign with the Boston Red Sox in February have turned mostly to anticipation and expectation as the Cuban phenom embarks upon his first season in America.

A 19-year-old infielder, Moncada landed a $31.5 million deal—a record for an international amateur free agent under the current system—and is considered the top teenager to leave Cuba since Chicago Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler in 2011. Moncada's talent level would put him on par with a No. 1 overall draft pick if he were eligible to be drafted.

As Jim Callis of MLB.com put it:

But for now, the baseball world will have to wait.

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Ben Margot/Associated Press

With all the access and information—and accessible information—out there now compared to even a few short years ago, it's harder that ever to come across a prospect who can truly be classified as "unknown." But we'll try to highlight a batch of somewhat-off-the-radar youngsters who are primed to take a big step in their development in 2015.

To that extent, any prospect who made a top-100 list for Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, ESPN or MLB.com was not eligible.

In short, we're trying to uncover the next big thing to become the next big thing.

For context, some prospects who might have qualified for a list like this a year ago include Dalton Pompey (Toronto Blue Jays), Nomar Mazara (Texas Rangers), Manuel Margot (Boston Red Sox), Dilson Herrera (New York Mets) and Luis Severino (New York Yankees).

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Associated Press

One of the hottest topics of this spring training centers around Kris Bryant, the Chicago Cubs' uber-prospect who is blowing up and lapping the field with nine home runs during the exhibition season so far.

In case you're wondering, no other player has more than five homers.

The shame of it is, Bryant has become such a story not because of the hype and buzz he has created with his mammoth power and promising career about to get underway, but because he probably won't start the 2015 regular season in the majors.

The Cubs can couch that likelihood all they want, saying Bryant still needs a little more Triple-A time to improve his ability to make contact at the plate or his defense at third base and/or in the outfield. But it's no secret that the underlying reason why Bryant might not debut until late April is because doing so allows Chicago to tack on an extra year of team control through the 2021 campaign.