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2013 MLB Season Preview: Top 25 Prospects To Watch

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2013 MLB Season Preview: Top 25 Prospects To Watch

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Jake Roth - USATODAY Sports

The wait is finally over; the start of the baseball season is here. After a longer-than-usual spring training and a rather exciting World Baseball Classic, the 162-game marathon we call the regular season is about to commence. Every team out there has a clean slate and genuine hope that this will be their year to make it to the World Series.

A big part of the excitement in baseball this time of year is the infusion of new, young talent all over Major League Baseball. With performance enhancing drugs slowly working their way out of the sport, baseball a young man’s game once again. Teams with young, up-and-coming players that are ready to blossom into stars feel good about their chances in 2013, as opposed to some of the older teams around the league that have significant chunks of their roster, including key players, on the disabled list before the season even starts (looking at you teams that play in New York).

Thus, we have put together a list of the top 25 prospects in baseball that every fan needs to know about and should be keeping an eye on this season. This isn’t so much a true prospect ranking as it is a list of players that are getting ready to make an impact in 2013. Every player on the list has either made their major league debut or is projected to do so during the 2013 season. For these 25 players, the seasoning is nearly done and they are ready to help their teams win games. So, here it is, the 25 prospects to keep an eye on in 2013.

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25. Hak-Ju Lee, Shortstop, Tampa Bay Rays

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Kim Klement - USATODAY Sports

Lee is a South Korean that is a brilliant defensive shortstop. He could win a gold glove this season in the big leagues, but unfortunately his bat lags behind. He’ll hit line drives and once he gets on base he should be able to steal bases, but his strikeout rate is still a little high. Once the Rays are satisfied with his bat, they shouldn’t hesitate to plug him into the bottom of their order, where he won’t add much offensively, but he’ll be an incredible asset defensively.

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24. Chris Archer, Pitcher, Tampa Bay Rays

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Kim Klement - USATODAY Sports

Archer is a little old for a top prospect at 24 years old, but he has electric stuff, especially a fastball that reaches the upper 90s. He had a nice season in AAA last year and made six appearances in the big leagues, including four starts. If his secondary stuff and his control show improvement he could be a real good starter, but if not he has enough in his arsenal to be a late-inning reliever.

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23. Nick Franklin, Shortstop, Seattle Mariners

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Jake Roth - USATODAY Sports

Franklin shook off a disappointing 2011 season with a great 2012 campaign that has him nearing MLB readiness. He has great bat speed and good plate discipline. If Franklin can stick at shortstop defensively, he’ll be a valuable player for the Mariners, as he’s the kind of player that plays winning baseball.

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22. Kyle Gibson, Pitcher, Minnesota Twins

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Kim Klement - USATODAY Sports

Gibson was on the verge of getting to the big leagues when he needed Tommy John surgery late in 2011. He was able to make it back in 2012 and make 13 minor league appearances, including 11 starts. As he closes in on two years since his surgery, Gibson should get back to normal and reach the big leagues. He’s got a great fastball-changeup combination, as well as a slider that’s a third above-average pitch. As long as he’s recovered from the surgery, he’ll contribute at the big league level this year.

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21. Jedd Gyorko, Second Baseman, San Diego Padres

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Jake Roth - USATODAY Sports

Gyorko is an outstanding hitter, belting 24 home runs in AAA last year, in just 92 games. For a guy that hit that many homers, his strikeout rate was surprisingly low and his average surprisingly high. Defensively, he has limited range and will be somewhat of a liability, but he’ll be a decent second baseman and will make up for it with his offense; he’ll do that as San Diego’s starting second baseman this season.

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20. Jake Odorizzi, Pitcher, Tampa Bay Rays

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Kim Klement - USATODAY Sports

Odorizzi has been involved in trades involving both Zack Greinke and James Shields, and after two starts last September he’ll look to establish himself as a big leaguer with the Rays. He doesn’t have the kind of stuff that other top prospects have, but he does have four pitches that are major league average or better, which will be enough to make him a mid-rotation starter. Odorizzi had an ERA under 3 in the hitter-dominated Pacific Coast League last season, which is impressive, so whenever the Rays have an opening for him in their rotation, he’ll be ready.

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19. Trevor Rosenthal, Pitcher, St. Louis Cardinals

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Peter Aiken - USATODAY Sports

Rosenthal is all but ready for full-time duty in the big leagues after throwing 8.2 scoreless innings in the playoffs last year. He can sit mid 90s with his fastball as a starter, but in shorter stints in the bullpen he crank it up to triple digits, which is scary. He also throws a curveball that works brilliantly in tandem with his fastball and a changeup that is making progress. If St. Louis has an opening in the rotation at some point, he could fill it, but in the mean time Rosenthal will be a real asset out of the Cardinal’s bullpen this year.

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18. Nick Castellanos, Outfield, Detroit Tigers

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Kim Klement - USATODAY Sports

Castellanos can flat out hit, as he reached AA at the age of 20 in 2012. He’s still young, so as he gets older he’ll start to fill out his 6’4’’ frame and start to generate more power. If he can start to hit more home runs Castellanos will force his way to the majors and into the Tiger’s lineup the second half of the season.

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17. Danny Hultzen, Pitcher, Seattle Mariners

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Denny Medley - USATODAY Sports

The southpaw was utterly dominant in AA last year. He struggled in AAA though, so he may be in need of some more seasoning. Hultzen features a heavy fastball with sink that runs away from hitters, as well as an above average changeup. Once he refines his slider and improve his control he’ll be ready for the big leagues, which should be some time in 2013.

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16. Julio Teheran, Pitcher, Atlanta Braves

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Brad Barr - USATODAY Sports

Teheran has had cups of coffee with the Braves in each of the last two seasons, with seven career appearances. He was brilliant in AAA during the 2011 season, but struggled mightily back in AAA in 2012, putting up an ERA over five. However, he’s young enough for that not to be a huge concern, especially since he spent last year trying to refine some things. Teheran will get his shot in the Atlanta rotation this season, and has the potential to solidify the back end of one of the best rotations in baseball.

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15. Carlos Martinez, Pitcher, St. Louis Cardinals

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Chris Gardner - USATODAY Sports

Known sometimes as “Little Pedro”, Carlos Martinez is small, standing barely 6’ tall, but he can bring it with a fastball that can reach the upper 90s. He also features a 12-to-6 curveball that is close to being a plus pitch, as well as changeup that isn’t far behind. He spent most of 2012 in AA, where he had an ERA under three and was a groundball machine. Martinez should be ready to pitch in the big leagues by mid-season, if not sooner, and the Cardinals should do whatever they can to find a place for him.

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14. Jackie Bradley, Outfielder, Boston Red Sox

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Kim Klement - USATODAY Sport

Bradley should be the centerfielder of the future for the Red Sox, as he is a plus defender with a lot of great tools. He spent the second half of last season at AA, where his OPS was .809. He can hit for a solid average, knows how to get on base, and is a great base runner. There’s not much else Bradley has to do to prove he’s big league ready, so he should be up soon and challenging for Jacoby Ellsbury’s job in no time.

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13. Mike Zunino, Catcher, Seattle Mariners

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Jake Roth - USATODAY Sports

Zunino will be Seattle’s catcher of the future, and it shouldn’t be too long until the future is here. He moves well behind the plate and has an accurate arm. As a batter, Zunino has good plate discipline and has the potential to his for some serious power in the big leagues. He has just 15 games experience above A-ball, plus some time in the Arizona Fall League, so he’ll need some more seasoning, but there’s no reason for the Mariners to wait too long into the season before promoting him.

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12. Shelby Miller, Pitcher, St. Louis Cardinals

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Steve Mitchell - USATODAY Sports

Miller was outstanding the second half of last season in AAA and performed well in six big league games at the end of the season. His secondary stuff isn’t quite there yet, but he has a heavy fastball that produces a lot of ground balls. Miller is also a strikeout machine that had solid spring and will start 2013 at the back end of the Cardinals' rotation.

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11. Mike Olt, Third Baseman, Texas Rangers

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Jake Roth - USATODAY Sports

Olt will be an interesting guy to watch in 2013. He’s a solid third basemen, but Texas has no room for him there because of Adrian Beltre, so they might try to move him to the outfield or trade him, which could have happened if the Mets had traded R.A. Dickey to the Rangers. No matter where he plays, Olt will hit for plenty of power and draw a good amount of walks, which should make up for a high strikeout rate.

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10. Tyler Skaggs, Pitcher, Arizona Diamondbacks

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea - USATODAY Sports

Skaggs was originally Angel’s property, but he’s been even better since going to the D’Backs in the Dan Haren trade. He owns one of the best curveballs in the minor leagues and has already made six big league appearances. He may need a little more seasoning, but he’s not far from getting to the big leagues and being able to stay for good.

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9. Trevor Bauer, Pitcher, Cleveland Indians

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Matt Kartozlan - USATODAY Sports

Bauer made his major league debut in his first professional season with the Diamondbacks before being traded to Cleveland in the offseason. He has a plus fastball with mid 90s velocity and a great 12-to-6 curveball with, as well as three more average pitches in development. He struggled in four major league starts last year, but Bauer has nothing left to prove in the minors and should be ready to be a part of the Indians' rotation.

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8. Billy Hamilton, Outfielder, Cincinnati Reds

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Jake Roth - USATODAY Sports

Hamilton is a guy to watch, but blink and you might miss him. He is the fastest player in baseball and has game-changing speed, stealing 155 stolen bases in 2012. He’s coming along as a hitter and a center fielder, but once he gets more seasoning he should be ready to make an impact in the big leagues, where he’ll be a threat to run every time he gets on base.

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7. Travis d'Arnaud, Catcher, New York Mets

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Brad Barr - USATODAY Sports

d’Arnaud is the top catching prospect in all of baseball, and has been the main prospect in trades for two different Cy Young award winners. He’s a well-rounded catcher that is solid behind the plate and will ultimately be a middle of the order hitter. If not for an injury last season he likely would have started the season in the big leagues. By mid-season he should be up with the Mets, as he’ll become their catcher of the future and possibly a perennial all-star.

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6. Oscar Taveras, Outfielder, St. Louis Cardinals

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Steve Mitchell - USATODAY Sports

Taveras is a lefty that has incredible bat speed and is nearly a finished product. His plate discipline improved greatly last season, which shows that he’s maturing as a player, which has made him a more dangerous hitter, who will someday be in the heart of the Cardinals' lineup.

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5. Wil Myers, Outfielder, Tampa Bay Rays

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Kim Klement - USATODAY Sports

Myers has grown up in the Kansas City farm system and helped the Royals acquire James Shields and Wade Davis in an offseason trade, but now he belongs to the Rays. He will be a middle of the order run producer, as he has great power, plate discipline, and the ability to hit for average. As a former catcher, Myers has a great arm and will fit perfectly in right field. It won’t be long until he’s a force in Tampa Bay’s lineup.

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4. Zack Wheeler, Pitcher, New York Mets

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Steve Mitchell - USATODAY Sports

Some scouts described Wheeler as the best pitching prospect in the minor leagues last season. He has two plus pitches, as well as a clean and easy delivery. The Mets are taking their time with him, but he is nearly big-league ready and should be up by the all-star break, if not sooner. Ultimately, he’ll be at the front of the Mets rotation, and could end up being the ace of their starting staff.

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3. Gerrit Cole, Pitcher, Pittsburgh Pirates

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Brad Barr - USATODAY Sports

Cole was the first overall pick in the 2011 draft and he looks like a guy that will be ready for the big leagues at some point in 2013. His fastball and slider are both plus pitches, and he has two other pitches that could end up being above average as well. Cole made one start in AAA last season, and it went well; if he has a few more AAA starts that go as well this year, the Pirates won’t hesitate to bring him up.

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2. Dylan Bundy, Pitcher, Baltimore Orioles

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Jerome Miron - USATODAY Sports

A year ago, Bundy was still in high school and hadn’t even been drafted yet. He stormed through the minor leagues and made two big league appearances at the end of 2012. His fastball is electric and his secondary stuff is coming along nicely. By the end of the 2013 season he could be established as a front of the rotation starter for Baltimore.

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1. Jurickson Profar, Shortstop, Texas Rangers

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Jake Roth - USATODAY Sports

Profar is undoubtedly the top prospect in all of baseball. He’s a five-tool player that’s a switch hitter and plays a premium position; you literally can’t ask for anything more than that. On top of that, he’s still only 20 years old and won’t turn 21 until after the 2013 season is over. He’s just about ready for the big leagues, so it won’t be long until Profar is making a major impact with the Texas Rangers.