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Season Preview: Top Prospects for all 30 teams

The SportsXchange

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras, Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant and Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Archie Bryant are among the top 10 prospects by Baseball America fans are likely to become acquainted with during the 2014 season.

Whether on the brink of the major leagues or a building block for the future, The Sports Xchange polled its team correspondents to highlight the top prospect in each of the 30 Major League Baseball organizations entering the season.


ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS: RHP Archie Bradley has a top-of-the-rotation arsenal -- a fastball that touches 99 mph with a big-breaking curveball. The 21-year-old used spring training to work on his changeup and refine his curve, and command is all that stands in the way of a long, strong major league career. Last year, he went a combined 14-5 with a 1.84 ERA over 26 starts in high Class A and Double-A.

COLORADO ROCKIES: CF David Dahl, who turns 20 on April 1, played one game at low Class A Asheville last year before being sent back to extended spring training, a disciplinary measure for missing a team flight out of spring training. When he returned to Asheville, Dahl played just nine more games before suffering a season-ending torn right hamstring. Since then, he appears to have matured as well as gained overall strength. Dahl is primed for a comeback season that should see him play at the high Class A level, maybe even Double-A. Dahl projects as the Rockies' center fielder of the future, most likely in 2016.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS: The Dodgers have a well-stocked outfield with four front-liners -- Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig -- jockeying for position when healthy. Behind them, though, Joc Pederson is coming on fast. Pederson, 21, was impressive at times during his first major league spring training camp. He figures to spend 2014 in Triple-A, gaining experience. Last season, he hit 22 homers and stolen 31 bases in high Class A.

SAN DIEGO PADRES: C Austin Hedges is only 21 but already has the defensive skills, presence behind the plate and arm to catch in the major leagues. The second-round pick in the 2011 draft was 5-for-18 this spring and impressed the Padres with his bat. He will open the year at Double-A San Antonio but could be on the move by midseason.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: LHP Edwin Escobar, 21, throws in the mid- to high 90s mph range but is effective because he changes speeds of his fastballs. He sports a super strikeout-to-walk ratio -- 432 K's to 140 walks in five minor league seasons, including 146 and 30 in Double-A and Class A last season. He could get a chance at some point this season but is a decent bet to replace RHP Ryan Vogelsong in the 2015 rotation.


CHICAGO CUBS: 3B Kris Bryant was a polished player when the Cubs took him out of the University of San Diego with the second overall pick in the draft last year. He will begin this year at Double-A Tennessee, but a fast start may force the Cubs' hand early. Bryant, 22, is athletic enough to move to the outfield, giving the organization potential options for his future.

CINCINNATI REDS: RHP Robert Stephenson, 21, probably will start in Double-A, but he could move fast. He went a combined 7-7 with a 2.99 ERA last year, starting in low Class A and ending up in the Double-A. His fastball touches 100 mph. Stephenson was a first-round draft pick in 2011.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS: RHP Jimmy Nelson got his feet wet in the big leagues as a September call-up in 2013 but is back in Triple-A Nashville to continue his develop as a starting pitcher. Nelson, 24, might get a chance this year if somebody goes down in the rotation, but a more likely ETA is 2015. He is a bulldog type who is aggressive with power pitches.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES: RHP Tyler Glasnow, 20, will begin the season on the disabled list at high Class A Bradenton due to lower back stiffness, but he is expected to be activated by the end of April. Glasnow has a plus fastball and curveball and was overpowering at low Class A West Virginia last season, going 9-3 with a 2.18 ERA in 24 starts. He also had 164 strikeouts in 111 1/3 innings and allowed just 54 hits.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: OF Oscar Taveras, who had ankle surgery last year when he was at Triple-A Memphis, was gimpy most of the spring. He still figures greatly in the Cardinals' future, but his future might not be until 2015 unless he shows he can stay healthy for most of this season. Taveras, 21, batted .306 with a .341 on-base percentage in 46 Triple-A games last year.


ATLANTA BRAVES: C Christian Bethancourt, 22, is being groomed to take over regular duty in 2015. He will continue to work on his hitting this year as he moves up to Triple-A. Defensively, he is already major league ready. Last year, he hit .277 with a .305 on-base percentage, a .436 slugging percentage, 12 homers and 45 RBIs in 90 games for Double-A Mississippi.

MIAMI MARLINS: Colin Moran is considered the Marlins' future at third base. A first-round draft pick in 2013, he went 0-for-6 with three walks and three runs in six Grapefruit League games this spring. Moran, 21, hit .299 with four homers and 23 RBI in 2013 for low Class A Greensboro. He likely will start the season at high Class A Jupiter, so a major league promotion wouldn't happen until next year at the earliest.

NEW YORK METS: RHP Noah Syndergaard, 21, is the organization's latest top pitching prospect, and he should follow in the footsteps of RHPs Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. That means a midseason call-up to the big leagues, assuming he handles his first taste of Triple-A Las Vegas without any real issues. Last year, Syndergaard went a combined 9-4 with a 3.06 ERA in high Class A and Double-A.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES: 3B Maikel Franco will start the season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley after posting a .320 average with 31 homers and 103 RBIs at high Class A Clearwater and Double-A Reading last year. While Franco, 21, is not likely to see major league time in 2014 unless there is a major injury at either third or first base, it is expected that he will fit in the major league plans in the not-so-distant future.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS: Scouts rave about RHP Lucas Giolito, and he ranked among the top three in the organization's strength tests pound-for-pound during the offseason conditioning camp. His fastball can hit the mid-90 mph range, and he has an advanced breaking ball for a 19-year-old. Giolito, in his second season after recovering from Tommy John surgery, is expected to log a lot of innings at low Class A Hagerstown this year.


HOUSTON ASTROS: SS Carlos Correa, the top overall pick in the 2012 draft, was arguably already the top talent in major league camp even though he is only 19 years old. He is a superb infielder and an amazing hitter. His goal is to earn a September call-up, and the Astros are not putting that out of the question. He will start at high Class A Lancaster, and nobody in the organization is ruling out a few jumps in the system this year.

LOS ANGELES ANGELS: 2B Taylor Lindsey, 22, is the consensus top prospect in the Angels' organization, and if he has a good start to the year in Triple-A, it could make Howie Kendrick expendable. Still, it is unlikely Lindsey will debut before 2015. Last year, he hit .274 with a .339 on-base percentage and a .441 slugging percentage in Double-A.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS: Addison Russell, 20, is projected to be the Athletics' Opening Day shortstop in 2015, in part because Jed Lowrie will be a free agent and in part because Russell is such a mature player for his age. He is likely to start the season at Double-A Midland but could move quickly to Triple-A Sacramento. He hit a combined .269/.369/.495 with 17 homers, 60 RBIs and 21 steals last year in high Class A and Triple-A.

SEATTLE MARINERS: 3B D.J. Peterson, 22, was the team's first-round pick last June, but a scary injury in his first few weeks of professional baseball derailed his debut season. Peterson appears to be fully recovered from the broken jaw he suffered after getting hit by a pitch last August, and the Mariners hope he can develop into a middle-of-the-order hitter.

TEXAS RANGERS: C Jorge Alfaro, a 20-year-old Colombian, hit .258 with 16 home runs at low Class A Hickory in 104 games last season. The Rangers feel he has yet to come close to reaching his full potential. Alfaro, who also has a cannon arm, will start this season at high Class A Myrtle Beach, and he could reach the major leagues by 2016.


CHICAGO WHITE SOX: 3B Matt Davidson was acquired from the Diamondbacks in the offseason, but will begin the season down in Class AAA Charlotte for the Sox. Don't expect a long stay, as the rookie will work on his defense, waiting to see if Gillaspie can hold onto the big-league spot at third.

CLEVELAND INDIANS: SS Francisco Lindor, the Indians' top pick and the eighth player taken overall in the 2011 June Draft, will start the 2014 season at Double-A Akron, where at age 20 he will be one of the youngest players in the league. Lindor, however, is on the fast track to Cleveland, and it could happen this season, should the Indians fall out of contention and decide to trade SS Asdrubal Cabrera, who can become a free agent after this season. At the very least, Lindor appears likely to be the Indians' opening day shortstop in 2015.

DETROIT TIGERS: 2B Devon Travis hit .350 at two Class A levels in his first full pro season after Detroit took him in the 13th round of the 2012 draft out of Florida State. He will open the season with Double-A Erie and might get a peek at Triple-A if injury strikes Toledo's double play combination, SS Eugenio Suarez and 2B Hernan Perez. He is a smallish, high-energy guy who could force his way to Detroit in a year or two.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS: RHP Kyle Zimmer will begin the year in extended spring, but by mid-May should be in the Double-A Northwest Arkansas rotation. Zimmer was nursing a tender shoulder in spring training, so the Royals took a slow approach with him, but he is on the fast track to the majors. Zimmer was the fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft and could be in the majors before the season ends.

MINNESOTA TWINS: CF Byron Buxton may start the season on the DL because of a sprained wrist, but he will soon be in action and worth watching. The No. 1 prospect in baseball, Buxton is still a year away from making it to the big club, but his progress in Double-A New Britain will be heavily scrutinized this season, as he will be expected to join the Twins in 2015. With the Twins' other highly touted prospect, Miguel Sano, recovering from Tommy John surgery, all eyes will be on Buxton.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES: RHP Dylan Bundy who underwent Tommy John surgery last June, begins the season on the disabled list and will need to build up innings. While 2014 was initially a target for the young phenom to burst onto the scene, it is now almost assuredly a lost season. He is aiming for a late-June return, but the Orioles will work the 20-year-old back at a conservative pace. Any late-year production from him would be a bonus.

BOSTON RED SOX: LHP Henry Owens, 21, likely seizes the top prospect mantle with SS Xander Bogaerts graduating to the big leagues. The 6-foot-6 lefty doesn't have a blazing fastball, but with a deceptive delivery and a major-league-caliber changeup, he doesn't have to. At one point last season, Owens threw 19 1/3 consecutive no-hit innings at Class A Salem. He will open the season at in Double-A but could be ready for the majors at some point in 2015.

NEW YORK YANKEES: C Gary Sanchez, 21, made significant strides in his defensive game the past two seasons, and will open the year at Double-A Trenton after finishing there in 2013. Sanchez had 15 homers and 71 RBIs last year over two levels, but the signing of All-Star C Brian McCann to a five-year contract blocks his path.

TAMPA BAY RAYS: SS Hak-Ju Lee, 23, was supposed to have a big 2013, when he was going to play regularly at Triple-A Durham and show the Rays he would be ready if needed. However, a brutal April knee injury wiped out the rest of his season, and he pretty much is starting 2014 in the same place -- actually a few weeks behind due to a late-spring calf strain. He hopes to play his way into Tampa Bay's 2015 plans.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS: RHP Aaron Sanchez, 21, was impressive in spring training, giving glimpses of why he is considered ace-in-waiting. He could get this chance at the majors sometime this season, but patience is the part of the game plan with him and he has yet to pitch above Class A. He should open at Double-A, and he definitely should figure in the Blue Jays' 2015 plans.

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