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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.

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With spring training halfway over and the start of Major League Baseball's regular season a little more than two weeks away (yay!), now is the time when teams start making cuts and sending prospects to minor league camp.

Those youngsters still with the big league club actually have something of a legitimate shot to crack the 25-man roster come April.

With that in mind and with a focus on prospects who could contribute in 2015, it's time to grade all 30 farm systems based on prospect performance this spring.

Sure, the sample size is tiny and the competition is inconsistent, but the exhibition season provides at least a little something to go on. So join us as we break out our red pens.

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Over the past several weeks, a number of sites, sources and publications—from Baseball America to MLB.com to ESPN to Baseball Prospectus to FanGraphs—have unveiled their top prospect rankings as a way to highlight Major League Baseball's best young talent.

This is different.

Those rankings are aimed at both real-life baseball and the big picture, as in how prospects stack up against each other from this point until well into the future.

This top 25? This is all about how prospects' profiles and skill sets translate to making an impact in fantasy baseball—and specifically this season. As in 2015 only.

For many young players who either have barely gotten their feet wet in the majors or have yet to even dip their big toe in (but do have their swimming trunks on), their fantasy value for the upcoming 2015 campaign can be as much about opportunity as it is about talent.

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Just because the next Mike Trout or Bryce Harper might not show up for another 10-20 years doesn't mean that Major League Baseball is devoid of young players with superstar potential ready to take the stage as the "next big thing."

But what is it that qualifies a player for this list? It's quite simple, actually, but I still implore you to read through it:

1. The player cannot have completed a "full season" in MLB (400 or more at-bats or 150 innings for starting pitchers).

2. Each player must be under the age of 25 as of Opening Day 2015.

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Spring training is in full swing, as we’re now more than a week into Cactus and Grapefruit League play. More importantly, we’re only 26 days away from Opening Day, with the Chicago Cubs set to host the St. Louis Cardinals on April 5.

With the spring-exhibition season underway, speculation abounds as to the immediate futures of some players. This is especially true for top prospects looking to make their mark in a quest to earn an Opening Day roster spot, or at least a call-up later in the season.

So, let’s break down some of these top-prospect scenarios in this week's edition of Fact or Fiction.

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With spring games having been sprung this week, let's take a twirl through a batch of top prospects who are making impressive immediate impressions.

While these early exhibition performances might not mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, it's always promising when a hotshot youngster gets off on the right foot, whether he's pushing for a big league job or just trying to get noticed in major league camp.

Just remember, this only takes into account those who still are prospect-eligible—meaning no more than 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the majors—so you won't see, say, new Oakland Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien. Even though he has been on a tear so far, going 6-for-9 with two homers and seven RBI through his first three games, the 24-year-old accumulated 231 at-bats in 2014, so he's exhausted his rookie status.

Same goes for fellow no-longer-a-prospect Taijuan Walker, the Seattle Mariners' 22-year-old right-hander who hurled two scoreless frames with two strikeouts in his first outing after having reached 53 career MLB innings in his final start last September.

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When we evaluate, project and rank prospects, we are essentially hyping them up. It’s just part of the process.

Every player that reaches the major leagues is a special talent and worthy of a degree of excitement, but when a highly touted prospect races through the minor leagues and draws glowing reviews along the way, he quickly becomes a huge deal.

Many of these promising young players are given a chance to prove they belong at the highest level every year, and many fail to meet what are usually lofty expectations. For this article, we’re interested at guys who are safe bets to reach the major leagues in 2015. But please keep in mind that in no way does a player being “hyped too early” mean he’s “overrated” or a “bust.” Basically, we’re looking at players already receiving entirely too much hype.

With that being said, here are five notable 2015 rookies being hyped too early.

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Over the next few weeks, teams will face difficult decisions as they begin to trim down their rosters to the maximum 25 players by Opening Day.

While many of these fall under the category of a "good problem to have," some teams could risk losing a player who is out of options to waivers. A veteran in camp as a non-roster invitee could potentially opt out of a minor league contract if not on the big league roster. 

We must also consider the mindset and readiness of a young player when finalizing Opening Day rosters. Will that player be overwhelmed in the majors if handed a roster spot prematurely? And will that player's confidence be shattered if he were to struggle? Would that player lose confidence if demoted to the minors? 

All of this must be taken into account as teams choose the 25 players who will take the field on the first game of the regular season.

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After Derek Jeter’s retirement, one of the biggest questions heading into Major League Baseball’s offseason was how the New York Yankees would replace The Captain at shortstop.

Based on previous years, the assumption was that the Yankees would sign an aging free agent such as Hanley Ramirez. However, general manager Brian Cashman decided to take a different route, acquiring Didi Gregorius from the Arizona Diamondbacks in early December as part of a three-team deal.

“I was a little surprised about the trade, I’m not going to lie,” Gregorius recently told Bleacher Report. “Because, you know, it’s the Yankees.”

To be pursued by the Bronx Bombers clearly meant something to the 25-year-old. Meanwhile, that the Yankees traded for Gregorius, of all people, was particularly appropriate.


It seems every year there is at least one prospect who, despite not being regarded by the industry as a whole, blows past expectations in spring training and earns a spot on an Opening Day roster.

Most of the time, they are guys who do one or two things well: They have enough of one tool that their projected floor performance in the major leagues at least should be tolerable.

At the same time, if the player doesn't meet those expectations, then his team won't have to worry as much about a demotion or reduced playing time hurting his development as they would with a top-ranked prospect.

Here’s a look at some boom-or-bust prospects worth following closely in spring training.