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With 15 days remaining until pitchers and catchers report to spring training, most organizations have already extended invitations to their non-40-man-roster players. 

As expected, this year's crop of non-roster invitees features high-ceiling prospects such as Byron Buxton, Javier Baez, Carlos Correa and Addison Russell. 

Besides providing an opportunity for players to fine-tune their skills in anticipation of the season, spring training also offers prospects the chance to make a strong impression in front of the entire organization.

Even though there aren't expected to be many prospect-related roster battles this spring, there undoubtedly will be countless young players who improve their stock and estimated time arrival in the major leagues.

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It doesn’t take an industry expert to point out that the Boston Red Sox boast one of the best farm systems in Major League Baseball.

Since the beginning of the 2009 season, the Red Sox have been quietly collecting a combination of high-ceiling talent and depth on the farm that now has the organization poised to compete at the highest level for the foreseeable future.

The emergence of top-billed prospects Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Allen Webster and Brandon Workman last season marked the commencement of an influx of young talent that’s arriving at the perfect time, with the team’s core and veteran players beginning to decline or head elsewhere.

Boston’s impressive farm system extends well beyond those four players, however.

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It's that magical time of year where websites and prospect writers have gathered all their information to provide readers with the list of top 100 minor leaguers who will impact Major League Baseball in the near future. 

With these lists comes a lot of praise—especially for the work that goes into it—but also a lot of backlash. Fans want to see their favorite prospects appearing on a top 100 list because it provides hope and optimism. 

Everyone has their own opinions and methods for determining why a player does or doesn't make a top 100 list.

In analyzing some of these lists, which combine scouting reports from various sources and the writer's opinion, there are a lot of things to agree with. Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton as the No. 1 player, according to MLB.com, is a no-brainer. 

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It’s been a hectic past few months for Taijuan Walker.

In September (well, technically Aug. 30), Walkerwho is widely considered the Seattle Marinerstop prospect, as well as one of the top-ranked pitching prospects in baseball headed into the 2014 seasonmade his major league debut. By early December, the 21-year-old right-hander was the subject of trade rumors as the Mariners explored a deal for Tampa Bay’s David Price.

However, in spite of the swirling rumors, the trade for Price never transpired, as the Mariners quickly backed off their presumed willingness to include Walker in a hypothetical deal.

But after months of uncertainty surrounding Walker’s immediate future in the organization, new Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon now expects the right-hander to open the 2014 season in the team's starting rotation.

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In spite of Matt Garza’s struggles to stay healthy and the fact that he’s already been traded three times in his eight-year career, there’s no questioning that the 30-year-old has been one of the more consistent starting pitchers in baseball since the 2007 season.

On Sunday, the Milwaukee Brewers paid Garza like one of baseball’s more reliable starters, signing him to a four-year, $52 million contract, with a vesting option for the 2018 season, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

The Brewers' deal with Garza obviously involves a high level of risk, as the right-hander has made only 42 starts in the last two seasons as a result of an elbow injury in 2012 and a lat injury that delayed the start to his 2013 campaign.

However, in reality, Garza’s performance last season, which he split between the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers, wasn’t as poor as his numbers suggest.

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Not every successful major league player is a former top prospect. Rather, it’s the high-ceiling players who typically garner the most hype as they ascend the organizational ladder.

One of the more rewarding aspects of scouting comes from the identification of young players who, despite flying under the radar, showcase the potential to be impact players at the highest level.

With that said, here’s a look at five lesser-known prospects with the potential to be major league stars.


All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs

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Since completing my rankings of each organization’s top-10 prospects earlier this month, I have been busy ranking the top prospects in the game by position, ceiling and estimated time of arrival in the major leagues.

In preparation for spring training, which is now less than a month away, I’ve put together a tentative ranking of the top pitching prospects in the game for the upcoming season. Some of the scouting notes for each pitcher have been derived from their original scouting report.

Here’s a look at the top 25 can’t-miss pitching prospects for 2014.

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The sweepstakes for Masahiro Tanaka officially came to an end on Wednesday, as the Japanese right-hander agreed to a seven-year, $155 million deal with the New York Yankees, as first reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

But now that Tanaka is off the board, who will be the next international player to make the jump directly to the major leagues?

Here’s a look at six international prospects that have realistic futures in Major League Baseball.

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Every year, virtually unknown prospects become household names by surpassing expectations in the minor leagues.

Over the last two seasons those players included the likes of Gregory Polanco, Chris Owings, Danny Salazar, Joc Pederson, Mookie Betts, Garin Cecchini and Dan Strailyeach of whom has either reached the major leagues or is now considered a top-100 overall prospect.

This year’s crop of breakout prospects could be equally impressive, as there are numerous players in the low minors that project to be future major leaguers in some capacity. So, be sure to keep an eye on these potential stars during the upcoming season.

Here are my preseason picks for the 2014 prospect all-breakout team.

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Things went from bad to ugly for CC Sabathia in 2013.

In spite of logging 200 or more innings for the seventh straight season, the 33-year-old posted a disconcerting 4.78 ERA (4.10 FIP) and allowed a career-high 28 home runs.

Sabathia’s forgettable 2013 campaign also marked the third consecutive season in which the 13-year veteran endured a drop in velocity.

Attempts to determine the cause of Sabathia’s struggles persisted throughout the regular season, with the more popular theories contending that the left-hander’s dismal performance stemmed from previous injuries or his offseason weight loss.