Future Stardom Fact or Fiction with MLB's Historic 2015 Rookie Class

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 11, 2015

Future Stardom Fact or Fiction with MLB's Historic 2015 Rookie Class

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    The Astros' Carlos Correa is one of the best young players in the game.
    The Astros' Carlos Correa is one of the best young players in the game.Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

    Young talent dominates the current MLB landscape, with Mike Trout and Bryce Harper leading the way in their respective leagues and an influx of fledgling stars in 2015.

    This year's NL Rookie of the Year race is stacking up to be an absolute dogfight over the final two months of the season, and there is no shortage of young standouts in the American League, led by the man pictured above: Carlos Correa.

    With so many first-year players making their presence known around the league, we've decided to take a closer look at the rookie class and who among them projects as a legitimate future star.

    First, we narrowed down the rookie crop to the top 25 so far this season:

    • Who Was Considered?: Players appear based on their all-around offensive production, defensive contributions and what they have meant to the success of their respective teams.

    From there, we broke down each player based on what he's done so far this year and what he projects to do going forward:

    • What Is a Star?: For the sake of this article, a "star" player is considered someone who is consistently among the best in the league at his respective position and one of the primary producers for his respective team. Minor league track record, positive- and negative-regression indicators as well as physical tools all played a part in predicting a player's future standing.

    So, who from this impressive 2015 rookie class will be starring in this league in the near future? Let's find out.

CF Billy Burns, Oakland Athletics

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    Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

    Future Star: Fiction

    2015 Stats: 350 AB, .294/.338/.374, 12 2B, 5 3B, 2 HR, 23 RBI, 46 R, 23 SB, 1.2 WAR

    Player Outlook: Acquired from the Washington Nationals in exchange for reliever Jerry Blevins before the start of the 2014 season, Billy Burns has used his speed and contact skills to turn into a serious weapon for the Oakland Athletics.

    The 25-year-old should continue to steal plenty of bases, but maintaining his batting average will be tricky given his 5.1 percent walk rate and 13.1 percent hard contact rate so far this year.

    He's also well below average defensively in center field (-4 DRS, -15.1 UZR/150) despite his speed. So, big picture, he's probably best suited as a fourth outfielder and pinch runner on a contending team.

    At this point, his ceiling is probably similar to that of Rajai Davis, but a more realistic long-term outlook might be someone like Eric Young Jr.

3B Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs

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    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Future Star: Fact

    2015 Stats: 365 AB, .249/.360/.441, 17 2B, 4 3B, 15 HR, 65 RBI, 58 R, 11 SB, 3.0 WAR

    Player Outlook: Kris Bryant has not been quite as dominant as some may have hoped in his rookie season, as he's hit quite a wall in the second half with a .177/.302/.329 line since the break.

    However, he has maintained a good eye at the plate with a solid 13.5 percent walk rate, and that plus-plus raw power is still there.

    It's going to take him a few years to get his strikeout rate down to a respectable level and his batting average up to where it's capable of being. But in a terrific young Cubs lineup, a 30-home run, 100-RBI, .850-OPS season next year is not out of the question.

    Long term, he has the potential to be a perennial MVP candidate with his great all-fields approach and big-time power.

SS Carlos Correa, Houston Astros

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    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    Future Star: Fact

    2015 Stats: 212 AB, .288/.349/.557, 15 2B, 0 3B, 14 HR, 37 RBI, 31 R, 9 SB, 2.9 WAR

    Player Outlook: Many viewed the Houston Astros' decision to take Carlos Correa with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft as a cost-saving measure of sorts. It did, in fact, allow them to sign Lance McCullers to an above-slot deal.

    However, he's looked every bit the part of a future superstar since beginning his pro career, and he should only get better in the years to come.

    "You see a lot of kids get called up and be scared, or be really annoying and nobody else on the team really wants to deal with them," Astros veteran reliever Pat Neshek told Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. "But he’s kind of leading us. That’s big, because so many guys are coming up now, and he’s played with all of them. He’s on his way to being the face of the Astros for many years."

    A pretty solid case can be made for Correa already being the best all-around shortstop in baseball, a scary proposition for the rest of the league, considering he's only 20 years old.

OF Delino DeShields, Texas Rangers

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Future Star: Fiction

    2015 Stats: 245 AB, .261/.355/.376, 14 2B, 7 3B, 0 HR, 22 RBI, 49 R, 18 SB, 1.2 WAR

    Player Outlook: The No. 8 pick in the 2010 draft and a former top prospect in the Houston Astros organization, Delino DeShields Jr. went to the Texas Rangers via the Rule 5 draft this past offseason.

    He's seen semi-regular playing time in both left and center field this season, and his 12.2 percent walk rate and plus-plus speed have made him a solid table-setter for the Rangers.

    A second baseman by trade, he's been below average defensively (-5 DRS, -12.0 UZR/150), but his all-around tools make him a solid fourth outfielder capable of stepping into everyday playing time if injury strikes.

    Top prospect Nomar Mazara figures to be the everyday right fielder in the near future. But the other two outfield spots are up for grabs in Texas, so don't be surprised if DeShields continues to see regular playing time going forward.

3B Matt Duffy, San Francisco Giants

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    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Future Star: Fiction

    2015 Stats: 361 AB, .307/.345/.465, 20 2B, 4 3B, 9 HR, 51 RBI, 48 R, 5 SB, 3.8 WAR

    Player Outlook: A lot was made in the offseason about how the San Francisco Giants would fare without Pablo Sandoval manning the hot corner and when Casey McGehee flopped as his replacement. It appeared the position could be a serious problem in 2015.

    Enter Matt Duffy.

    An 18th-round pick in 2012 and never regarded as a top prospect, Duffy was expected by most to turn into a useful utility infielder after a decent 60 at-bat debut last year.

    Instead, he's stepped into the everyday third base role and No. 3 spot in the lineup and established himself as an NL Rookie of the Year front-runner.

    The position figures to be his long term, and he's the type of scrappy player whose tools will always play up, but a lack of power and a low 4.2 percent walk rate may keep him from being a true star.

3B Maikel Franco, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Future Star: Fact

    2015 Stats: 296 AB, .277/.338/.490, 22 2B, 1 3B, 13 HR, 48 RBI, 43 R, 1 SB, 1.4 WAR

    Player Outlook: The youth movement has finally arrived for the Philadelphia Phillies, and leading the way is third baseman Maikel Franco.

    The 22-year-old was called up on May 15, at which time he immediately took over as the team's everyday starter at the hot corner.

    His defense has been atrocious (-10 DRS, -16.0 UZR/150), and a move across the diamond to first base may be in order once the team is rid of Ryan Howard, but his bat looks to be for real.

    Alongside prospects Nick Williams, J.P. Crawford and Jorge Alfaro, the slugger figures to be a centerpiece of the rebuilding team's offense and its primary run producer. He should also hit for a solid average, but power will be his calling card.

LF/CF Randal Grichuk, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Future Star: Fact

    2015 Stats: 269 AB, .286/.332/.569, 20 2B, 7 3B, 14 HR, 43 RBI, 41 R, 4 SB, 2.9 WAR

    Player Outlook: When the St. Louis Cardinals shipped David Freese to the Los Angeles Angels, most viewed speedy Peter Bourjos as the big piece heading back in the deal. But two years later it's Randal Grichuk who is enjoying a breakout season.

    The 23-year-old, who was taken one pick before Mike Trout at No. 24 overall in the 2009 draft, has stepped into an everyday role with Matt Holliday and Jon Jay both missing significant time.

    He doesn't necessarily look the part of a power hitter, but he has surprising pop, as evidenced by his 41 extra-base hits and a 37.4 percent hard contact rate that is good for 24th among players with 250 plate appearances.

    His 31.5 percent strikeout rate will obviously need to improve going forward, but Grichuk has the raw offensive tools to be a star in center field for the Cardinals.

SP Chris Heston, San Francisco Giants

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    Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

    Future Star: Fiction

    2015 Stats: 134.2 IP, 11-6, 3.48 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 1.196 WHIP, 39 BB, 102 K, 1.3 WAR

    Player Outlook: Chris Heston was taken in the 12th round of the 2009 draft out of East Carolina University, and heading into the 2015 season he checked in as the No. 25 prospect in the San Francisco Giants system, according to the Baseball America Prospect Handbook.

    Thrust into action by injuries to Matt Cain and Jake Peavy, the 27-year-old has been the only other reliable arm in the Giants rotation this year alongside ace Madison Bumgarner.

    Heston threw a no-hitter against the New York Mets on June 9, and he's tallied 13 quality starts in 22 appearances on the year.

    The right-hander doesn't have overpowering stuff, and he's probably close to his ceiling given his age, so expecting him to emerge as a front-line arm is probably asking too much. That said, he should be a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter going forward.

SP Taylor Jungmann, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Future Star: Fiction

    2015 Stats: 71.2 IP, 6-3, 2.26 ERA, 2.89 FIP, 1.074 WHIP, 21 BB, 61 K, 2.7 WAR

    Player Outlook: After a standout career at the University of Texas, right-hander Taylor Jungmann was taken with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2011 draft.

    He ranked as the No. 70 prospect in baseball heading into the 2012 season, but his prospect star has faded a bit since and he checked in as the team's No. 10 prospect in a weak Milwaukee system heading into the year, according to the Baseball America Prospect Handbook.

    Jungmann was by no means excelling for Triple-A Colorado Springs this year prior to being called up, posting a 6.37 ERA and 1.517 WHIP in nine starts and two relief appearances, but he has taken off in the majors.

    The 25-year-old has the workhorse pitcher's build at 6'6" and 220 pounds, a good ground-ball rate (51.8 percent) and strong peripheral numbers. However, his track record and lack of a third pitch give him an obvious ceiling at this point, and he's probably more of a No. 3 starter type going forward.

SS/3B Jung Ho Kang, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    Future Star: Fact

    2015 Stats: 300 AB, .293/.368/.453, 17 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 39 RBI, 42 R, 5 SB, 3.7 WAR

    Player Outlook: Despite a huge season in Korea in which he hit .356/.459/.739 with 36 doubles, 40 home runs and 117 RBI for the Nexen Heroes of the KBO, Jung Ho Kang was an unknown commodity when he decided to make the jump stateside.

    No position player had ever made that transition, but the Pittsburgh Pirates took a chance on his offensive profile with a four-year, $11 million deal that includes a $5.5 million option for 2019.

    After starting the season in a utility role, Kang has emerged as a key contributor for the Pirates with shortstop Jordy Mercer and third baseman Josh Harrison both on the disabled list.

    There's nothing in his peripheral numbers to suggest he can't continue to be a key contributor for the Pirates going forward, though his offensive game profiles better at shortstop than third base. His defense has also been better than expected (8 DRS), so if he can supplant Mercer, he has legitimate star potential even at 28 years old.

SP Nate Karns, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

    Future Star: Fiction

    2015 Stats: 125.1 IP, 7-5, 3.52 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 1.229 WHIP, 44 BB, 121 K, 1.7 WAR

    Player Outlook: The Tampa Bay Rays acquired right-hander Nate Karns prior to the 2014 season from the Washington Nationals in exchange for backup catcher Jose Lobaton.

    After making a pair of spot starts last year, he has become a key member of the team's rotation in the wake of injuries to Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly.

    The former 12th-round pick out of Texas Tech began the season as the No. 5 prospect in the Rays system, according to the Baseball America Prospect Handbook, but it's still fair to say he's been better than expected.

    At this point, Karns has established his place in the Rays rotation going forward, but the 27-year-old is not on the same level as teammates Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi.

C James McCann, Detroit Tigers

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    Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Future Star: Fiction

    2015 Stats: 259 AB, .285/.319/.429, 16 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 26 RBI, 22 R, 1.5 WAR

    Player Outlook: The Detroit Tigers are going to have a tough decision to make at the catcher position when the offseason rolls around.

    Even though he's never been able to match his huge 2011 numbers, free-agent-to-be Alex Avila was still a 5.4 WAR player from 2012-14.

    There's also the interesting twist that after general manager Dave Dombrowski was let go, Avila's father was promoted to the role of GM and will be the one deciding whether or not to make a play to re-sign him.

    On the other hand, 25-year-old James McCann has seen extended big league action for the first time this year and run with it.

    His .285 average may be hard to maintain with a .347 BABIP and just a 4.3 percent walk rate, but he has decent pop, does a great job handling the staff and has been praised for his leadership abilities. He'll be a solid starter, but not quite on a star-caliber level.

SP Lance McCullers, Houston Astros

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    Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    Future Star: Fact

    2015 Stats: 76.2 IP, 5-4, 3.17 ERA, 2.97 FIP, 1.213 WHIP, 28 BB, 79 K, 1.5 WAR

    Player Outlook: Few would have ever imagined that Lance McCullers would reach the majors for the Houston Astros before former No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel, but he did just that this season and shined in the process.

    Still just 21 years old, McCullers possesses a terrific fastball/curveball combination, and his changeup has the makings of a solid third offering going forward.

    Nothing in his peripheral numbers suggests his strong rookie performance is anything but legit, and his minor league track record indicates more strikeouts could be on the way, as he had a 10.7 K/9 rate over parts of four seasons.

    Dallas Keuchel figures to be the ace of the staff in Houston for the foreseeable future, but McCullers has the stuff and pitchability to emerge as a front-line arm in his own right going forward.

SP Mike Montgomery, Seattle Mariners

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    Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

    Future Star: Fiction

    2015 Stats: 80.1 IP, 4-4, 3.25 ERA, 4.17 FIP, 1.245 WHIP, 31 BB, 60 K, 1.6 WAR

    Player OutlookIt's been an interesting road to big league success for Mike Montgomery.

    A first-round pick in 2008 by the Kansas City Royals, the left-hander was ranked among the top 40 prospects in the league three years running from 2010-12, according to Baseball America.

    He struggled to make the jump to the high minors, though, posting a 5.32 ERA in 2011 and 6.07 ERA in 2012, before being shipped to the Tampa Bay Rays as part of the Wil Myers-James Shields trade.

    After going 10-5 with a 4.29 ERA in 25 starts in Triple-A last year, he was traded again prior to the start of the season, going to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Erasmo Ramirez.

    The early returns were fantastic, as he went 4-2 with a 1.62 ERA and a pair of shutouts in his first seven starts. However, he's 0-2 with a 5.93 ERA in six starts since. His peripherals suggest he should be able to land somewhere in the middle, but he's probably not as good as we saw over the first month of his career.

RP Roberto Osuna, Toronto Blue Jays

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    Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

    Future Star: Fact

    2015 Stats: 50.2 IP, 10/11 SV, 2.13 ERA, 2.51 FIP, 0.888 WHIP, 12 BB, 54 K, 1.7 WAR

    Player Outlook: The Toronto Blue Jays have taken a real chance relying on a 20-year-old to serve as their closer for the stretch run, but Roberto Osuna has the kind of lights-out stuff and the mentality to thrive in the role.

    "I don’t think I deserve anything. But I try to do the best I can, get ready each day and be ready inside the stadium and outside too. I know where I came from and I know where I want to go," Osuna told Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star.

    Osuna had never pitched above the High-A level coming into the season, but he was among a handful of rookies to win a job on the Opening Day roster with a strong spring performance.

    Whether he remains in the closer's role long term or utilizes his solid four-pitch repertoire as a starter going forward, there is legitimate star potential in his right arm.

1B Ben Paulsen, Colorado Rockies

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    Scott Kane/Associated Press

    Future Star: Fiction

    2015 Stats: 215 AB, .298/.348/.502, 14 2B, 3 3B, 8 HR, 35 RBI, 29 R, 1.2 WAR

    Player Outlook: Ben Paulsen spent all of the 2013 (.867 OPS, 18 HR, 79 RBI) and 2014 (.912 OPS, 20 HR, 76 RBI) seasons putting up big numbers at the Triple-A level, but, now at 27 years old, he was not considered much of a prospect heading into the 2015 season.

    However, an injury-plagued season by reigning NL batting champ Justin Morneau opened the door for him to see regular at-bats at first base for the Colorado Rockies, and he's responded with a solid season.

    As with any Rockies hitter, you have to look at the home/road splits, and they do speak to a player who may be a product of his environment, as Paulsen has been far more productive at altitude (.981 OPS, 5 HR, 22 RBI) than he has been on the road (.704 OPS, 3 HR, 13 RBI).

    The late bloomer of sorts has been a solid fill-in option for the Rockies this season and could wind up being the guy at first base once again next year, but stardom does not look to be in the cards.

CF Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

    Future Star: Fact

    2015 Stats: 371 AB, .221/.353/.445, 18 2B, 1 3B, 21 HR, 43 RBI, 53 R, 3 SB, 2.3 WAR

    Player Outlook: Anyone who has watched a Los Angeles Dodgers game recently may have noticed that Joc Pederson has looked completely lost at the plate, but he has far too much raw talent to not figure things out going forward.

    A .183/.301/.268 line with 26 strikeouts in 71 at-bats since the All-Star break is obviously concerning, especially for a Dodgers team that was counting on the rookie to be a big part of its postseason push.

    For Pederson, it will be a matter of changing his swing-from-the-heels, all-or-nothing approach at the plate to be a more balanced hitter. He already has a good idea of the strike zone and tremendous power, but he's sacrificing too much contact with his current approach.

    The 23-year-old has work to do, there's no question, but he still has the ceiling to be a bona fide superstar in this league.

2B/SS Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs

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    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    Future Star: Fact

    2015 Stats: 321 AB, .240/.302/.368, 20 2B, 0 3B, 7 HR, 30 RBI, 36 R, 2 SB, 1.6 WAR

    Player Outlook: At 21 years old and after just 11 games at the Triple-A level, Addison Russell was thrown into the everyday lineup for the Chicago Cubs for lack of a better option at second base.

    His offensive game is still a work in progress, but he's shown a willingness to make adjustments, and he's quietly hit a solid .282/.321/.410 with six extra-base hits since the All-Star break.

    The reason the team felt comfortable pushing him, aside from his terrific makeup, is because his glove is already the best in the organization among middle infielders.

    Playing second base for the first time, he graded out fantastic from a metrics standpoint (8 DRS, 12.8 UZR/150) before recently shifting back to his natural shortstop position. He has the glove to be a legitimate Gold Glove candidate there for years to come.

    How well his offensive game progresses will inevitably determine whether Russell becomes a star. If his .301/.377/.520 line during his time in the minors is any indication, he could quickly join the ranks of the game's elite at shortstop.

3B/DH Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins

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    Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

    Future Star: Fact

    2015 Stats: 106 AB, .264/.383/.491, 9 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 18 RBI, 15 R, 0.6 WAR

    Player Outlook: Miguel Sano announced himself as one of the game's elite power prospects when he put together an 18-double, 20-homer season in just 66 games and 267 at-bats in the Appalachian League in 2011.

    He's steadily climbed the ladder since, peaking with a .992 OPS that included 30 doubles, 35 home runs and 103 RBI in 2013 while splitting the year between High-A and Double-A.

    Tommy John surgery cost him all of last season, but he's returned strong this year and finally broken through at the big league level.

    Whether the 22-year-old sticks at designated hitter or winds up at one of the corner infield positions, it's his bat that will make him a star. There's no reason he can't be a perennial 30-homer, 100-RBI guy in the middle of an impressive young Twins lineup, and his solid plate discipline should lead to good average and on-base numbers to boot.

C/LF Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs

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    Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

    Future Star: Fact

    2015 Stats: 91 AB, .341/.429/.604, 4 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 21 RBI, 23 R, 2 SB, 1.4 WAR

    Player Outlook: Kyle Schwarber has been on an absolute tear to begin his time with the Chicago Cubs, and fellow rookie Kris Bryant is far from surprised.

    "The guy's a freak of nature," Bryant told Paul Skrbina of the Chicago Tribune. "I don't expect anything else from him. It's been fun watching him play."

    The No. 4 pick in the 2014 draft, Schwarber hit .333/.429/.613 with 35 doubles, 34 home runs and 102 RBI in 519 at-bats during his time in the minors. He hasn't missed a beat since making the jump to the majors.

    He'll be the best offensive catcher in the game if he can stick behind the plate, but his middle-of-the-order level of production will play anywhere should he make the full-time move to left field.

RP Carson Smith, Seattle Mariners

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    Jennifer Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    Future Star: Fact

    2015 Stats: 45.2 IP, 12/14 SV, 2.76 ERA, 2.27 FIP, 0.985 WHIP, 13 BB, 59 K, 1.2 WAR

    Player Outlook: Carson Smith jumped straight from pitching for Texas State to closing for High-A High Desert after the Seattle Mariners selected him in the eighth round of the 2011 draft.

    In his three minor league seasons, he racked up 40 saves with a 2.55 ERA, 1.219 WHIP and 193 strikeouts in 155 innings for an 11.2 K/9 rate.

    The 25-year-old broke camp with the Mariners this season and quickly pitched his way into the eighth-inning role. He eventually unseated a struggling Fernando Rodney as the team's closer.

    He has the prototypical mid-90s fastball and wipeout slider combination that works so well in the late innings, and all signs point to him being one of the game's elite closers in the very near future.

SP Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets

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    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Future Star: Fact

    2015 Stats: 98.2 IP, 6-6, 3.01 ERA, 2.87 FIP, 1.115 WHIP, 22 BB, 106 K, 1.7 WAR

    Player Outlook: An imposing figure on the mound at 6'6" and 240 pounds, Noah Syndergaard may very well wind up being the best pitcher from the New York Mets' current stable of arms.

    His fastball reaches the high 90s, and he also throws a sinker at the same velocity. He offsets that with a great 12-6 curveball in the low 80s and an improving changeup that could be a solid third pitch down the line. All of that leads to a ton of strikeouts.

    The kicker here is that while teammates Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom are 26 and 27 years old, respectively, Syndergaard is just 22 and already dominating at the big league level.

    In fact, his impressive numbers were even better prior to a rough start his last time out (4.0 IP, 8 H, 5 ER), and assuming he bounces back, he has to be viewed as one of the NL Rookie of the Year front-runners.

RF Yasmany Tomas, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

    Future Star: Fiction

    2015 Stats: 318 AB, .299/.333/.431, 17 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 41 RBI, 33 R, 5 SB, 0.6 WAR

    Player Outlook: A certain level of pressure is going to come with signing a six-year, $68.5 million contract as a largely unproven international player, especially when you're following in the footsteps of Jose Abreu.

    Tomas has not produced anywhere near the level of Abreu, but he has settled in nicely as the everyday right fielder for the Arizona Diamondbacks and hit for a solid average in his first big league season.

    However, a lofty .383 BABIP takes some of the luster off that batting average, and big picture, the Diamondbacks signed Tomas for his plus raw power, and that has yet to show through in games.

    He's using the whole field, but he's hitting the ball on the ground a lot (54.9 percent ground-ball rate). Until Tomas proves his power can translate to games and he can be a 25-30 home run guy, it's hard to project him as anything more than a passable big league regular.

2B Devon Travis, Toronto Blue Jays

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Future Star: Fiction

    2015 Stats: 217 AB, .304/.361/.498, 18 2B, 0 3B, 8 HR, 35 RBI, 38 R, 3 SB, 2.5 WAR

    Player Outlook: In a rare swap of major league-ready talent that benefits both sides, the Toronto Blue Jays shipped center fielder Anthony Gose to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for second baseman Devon Travis.

    Expected to still need some time in the minors after spending all of 2014 in Double-A, Travis instead won the starting job out of spring training.

    From there, the 24-year-old exploded for a .325/.393/.625 line that included six doubles, six home runs and 19 RBI to win AL Rookie of the Month honors in April.

    However, a shoulder injury has limited him to just 40 more games since that big first month and really cut into his chances of taking home AL Rookie of the Year.

    His power numbers over the first month of the season aren't sustainable, and something like a .280 average and 12-15 home runs per year is probably a more reasonable expectation going forward.

    Star-caliber? Not quite, but he'll provide solid production from the position and be a key piece of the puzzle going forward in Toronto.

LF Preston Tucker, Houston Astros

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    Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Future Star: Fiction

    2015 Stats: 244 AB, .258/.312/.463, 17 2B, 0 3B, 11 HR, 29 RBI, 31 R, 0.8 WAR

    Player Outlook: A four-year starter at the University of Florida, Preston Tucker hit .329/.412/.576 with 57 home runs and 258 RBI during his time in college, and the Houston Astros grabbed him in the seventh round of the 2012 draft.

    After back-to-back 20-homer, 90-RBI seasons in the minors and a red-hot start in Triple-A, Tucker got the call this year and quickly played his way into the everyday lineup on a contending team.

    He doesn't hit left-handed pitching at all (.200 BA, .466 OPS), and he's been rough defensively in the outfield (-3 DRS, -10.7 UZR/150), but his power bat helps offset those shortcomings.

    It's unclear exactly how he fits into the Astros' long-term plans, and his ceiling is probably an .800 OPS with 20 home runs. That's not exactly star-level production, but it's still a solid bat that should have a long MLB career.

    All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference or FanGraphs unless otherwise noted. 

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