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MLB Prospects Proving They’re Ready for Their Big League Shot

Whether it’s with a contending team looking for a shot in the arm or a rebuilding club evaluating talent for the future, prospects often get their first taste of big league action over the final two months of the season.

Many times, a top prospect will enter The Show down the stretch with an eye toward taking on a bigger role the following campaign.

Whatever the situation, there are a number of highly regarded minor leaguers currently playing at either the Double-A or Triple-A levels who have proven they’re ready for a shot at the majors. Here is a look at 10 such players, based on their performance so far this year.


*Note: Only players with zero big league experience were considered for inclusion.

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Report Cards for Every MLB Team at the Quarter Mark

Report-card season can be a stressful time of year. Just ask clubs like the Oakland Athletics and the Milwaukee Brewers, who will be racing to their mailboxes to snag those progress reports before their owners find out just how poorly they’ve done.

While Oakland and Milwaukee have been among the game’s biggest duds, an array of clubs have aced the opening quarter of the MLB season.

In the process of dishing out grades, the win-loss record was the most important factor. After all, winning games is what it’s all about. For that reason, the Kansas City Royals and the St. Louis Cardinals earned some of the highest marks of all. 

A heavy emphasis was placed on the performance of each team’s rotation, but bullpen contributions and lineup production also factored into the equation. Plus, the respective preseason expectations of each club were also taken into consideration. And that’s great news for overachievers like the Minnesota Twins.

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MLB Players Who Will Blossom into Superstars in 2015

This is one exclusive club. Simply put, there just aren’t that many big leaguers who earn the title of MLB superstar.

Players like Clayton Kershaw and Miguel Cabrera easily fit the bill, and each season, a host of rising stars aim to join the ranks. “Superstar” is a tricky term to define. For the purposes of this list, the idea is to find five big leaguers on the verge of joining that stratosphere.

The first requirement is that all the players on the slides that follow must have actually appeared in a big league game. The minors are flooded with highly talented players, but it’s not fair to put them in the superstar conversation before they’ve actually stepped onto a major league diamond.

The second requirement is that none of the players who crack this list can be too established in the majors. The idea is to avoid including players who have already broken out. Think Anthony Rendon of the Washington Nationals, who is entering just his third season, but who earned an All-Star nod in 2014 and landed No. 5 in National League MVP award balloting. As a cutoff, any player who has already appeared in an All-Star Game is ineligible.

As a result, the five players on this list have all enjoyed some success in the major leagues, but they have yet to establish themselves as All-Star-caliber contributors. Thanks to the way these players performed in 2014 and how they have stepped up this spring, all five have the ability to take off in the upcoming campaign.

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MLB Spring Training 2015: Ranking the Most Alarming Superstar Performances

Mr. Commissioner, enough with the pace-of-play rules. For your next move as the face of MLB, can you make players wear a sign around their neck during spring training that says “WARNING: ALL STATS SHOULD BE TAKEN IN CONTEXT”?

I joke, but it’s easy to get wrapped up in meaningless spring statistics. Too often does a player look overmatched in the preseason, only to go on to produce at an All-Star level. Maybe it’s the need to analyze any little thing after a long, cold winter, but it’s a bad habit that every baseball fan takes part in. 

With that being said, we can still draw conclusions from the exhibition period in a few instances. 

Players like Brandon Phillips and Jacoby Ellsbury have struggled this spring and have shown signs of regression in recent seasons. Others, like Pablo Sandoval, have weight issues to battle, and guys like Matt Wieters and Ryan Braun have their own problems to overcome. 

We’ll rank the most alarming superstar performances of this spring over the next few slides. Ugly numbers are probably involved, but a variety of other elements could also be cause for concern regarding a player’s future in 2015. 

Let’s start with the honorable mentions. 

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3 Key Questions Facing Each MLB Team During Spring Training

Full-squad workouts are officially underway in Arizona and Florida, and a full slate of spring training games is set to kick off Wednesday as we move ever closer to Opening Day.

There is a lot to be sorted out between now and the start of the season, with position battles to be played out, injuries to be dealt with and 25-man rosters to be set heading into the year.

To put it simply, there are significant questions facing all 30 MLB teams, regardless of their outlook for the upcoming season.

What follows is a look at the three biggest questions each team will need to answer before spring training wraps up and Opening Day rolls around.

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Predicting Every MLB Team’s Best and Worst Offseason Move

Spring training is now in full swing around the league, and the 2015 MLB season is drawing closer with each day.

Full squad workouts have begun, and the first spring training games are slated to begin next week, as we are now a little over a month from Opening Day.

In the meantime, the prediction and preview articles will continue to flow, as we gear up for what promises to be another exciting season of baseball.

What follows is my take on what will wind up being the best and worst offseason move for each MLB team.

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Bleacher Report’s 2015 MLB Award Predictions at Start of Spring Training

With the arrival of spring training also meaning the arrival of prediction season, you might even say it’s our duty to take a whack at predicting who will win some hardware when it’s time for 2015 MLB awards.

So that’s what we’re here to do. Ahead of you are picks for the four major awards—Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and Most Valuable Playerin the American League and National League, complete with what passes for reasonable analysis at this juncture.

Step into the box whenever you’re ready.


Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted/linked.

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Ranking All 30 MLB Teams on Homegrown Talent

All 30 MLB teams emphasize building from within and cultivating their own homegrown talent. A lot of it has to do with payroll, as small-market teams are forced to get the most out of their controllable young assets, while big-market teams can afford to deal prospects and spend big in free agency

It’s not always related to a market issue, though. For example, the St. Louis Cardinals continue to have more homegrown big league talent than anyone despite a relatively large payroll. Meanwhile, the Oakland Athletics have a somewhat small payroll to work with, but they’re also thin on homegrown players.

What follows is a look at all 30 MLB teams ranked from worst to first on homegrown talent as we get set the start of spring training.

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Predicting Final Opening Day 25-Man Rosters for All 30 MLB Teams

With Super Bowl Sunday now in the rearview and the NFL season officially over, sports fans will soon be turning their attention to sunny Arizona and Florida and the start of MLB spring training.

We are all still waiting to see where James Shields will be pitching in 2015, but for the most part, teams have a good idea of the field of players that will be competing for roster spots this spring.

So too do we analysts, and with that being said, it’s never too early to take a crack at predicting how all 30 MLB teams’ Opening Day rosters will shake out.

Obviously, the inevitable injuries, surprise performances and whatever signings and trades that take place this spring will shake things up between now and the beginning of the regular season.

Truth be told, it will be a surprise if more than a handful of these predictions turn out to be accurate, but what they do provide is an overview of how each team looks heading into the preseason.

Included with the 25-man roster predictions is a look at each team’s top roster battle to watch this spring.


Note: Players listed in italics are not currently on the 40-man roster and are in camp trying to make the team as non-roster invitees. Players with an (R) following their name have their rookie status intact entering the season, according to Baseball-Reference.

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Chase Headley’s Re-Up a Solid Deal for Yankees, Brings 2015 Lineup into View

Chase Headley isn’t the big free-agent fish New York Yankees fans have been waiting for. His signing won’t splash across the headlines, and he won’t single-handedly carry New York back to the top of the American League East.

But by inking their incumbent third baseman to a four-year, $52 million pact, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Yankees solidified their infield and struck a reasonable deal to boot.

Headley posted a pedestrian .229/.296/.355 slash line in 77 games with the San Diego Padres last year. However, after a trade to New York and away from spacious Petco Park, he hit .262 with six home runs and 17 RBI in 58 contests.

The 30-year-old switch-hitter isn’t likely to repeat his monstrous 2012 campaign, when he clubbed 31 home runs, drove in 115 and finished fifth in the MVP voting. But there’s reason to believe his bat will benefit from a full season at Yankee Stadium.

Then there’s Headley’s defense, which is widely regarded as superlative. He won a Gold Glove in 2012—if that award means anything to you.

The advanced statistics like him, too; his 28 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) was tops among all MLB position players in 2014, per FanGraphs

So, the Yankees got themselves a nice two-way player, and he was a (relative) bargain.

Compare Headley’s contract to the one the Boston Red Sox just handed Pablo Sandoval. Yes, Sandoval’s two years younger and is the superior hitterbut not by a landslide.

Sandoval hit just three more home runs than Headley last season and finished with a slightly lower OBP. Plus, Headley has the clear edge with the leather.

Yet Sandoval got five years and $95 million from Boston with a $17 million club option for a sixth year and a $5 million buyout, per Alex Speier of WEEI.com. 

That’s $100 million in guaranteed cash, or nearly twice as much as New York shelled out for Headley. Is Sandoval twice the player? (No, that’s not a weight joke.)

In addition to spending smart—and really, how often can you say that about the Yankees?—New York shored up its infield for 2015.

Joining Headley on the left side will be slick-fielding shortstop Didi Gregorius, whom the Yankees acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team swap. 

Versatile Martin Prado, who hit .282 with 12 home runs last year, figures to get the bulk of the action at second base. 

Mark Teixeira suffered a MASH unit’s worth of injuries in 2014 but is “definitely an everyday first baseman” in the eyes of general manager Brian Cashman, per Brendan Kuty of NJ.com. In case he isn’t, Headley does have experience at first.

Then there’s that Alex Rodriguez fellow, set to return from his season-long performance-enhancing-drug suspension. A-Rod could work his way into the infield discussion, but right now, the soon-to-be 40-year-old former superstar is a big, crooked question mark.

Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com states it bluntly, opining that “except for spot duty, we’ve probably seen the last of Alex Rodriguez at third base for the Yankees…”

Simply put, Headley gives New York a viable, non-Rodriguez option on the hot-corner depth chart. That’s worth a lot by itself. Cashman discussed the importance of Headley being in New York with Kuty shortly before the signing was announced.

“He was a tremendous acquisition in the second half,” Cashman said. “A great leader. A tremendous defender. A switch-hitter with great discipline. He kind of checks off every box that we’d like a prototypical Yankee to look like.”

Headley wasn’t the biggest fish in the free-agent sea. But as they embark on the post-Jeter era and try to chart a course back to the postseason, the Bombers should be glad they reeled him in.


All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference unless otherwise noted.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

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