2012 seemed to be the year for rookies in professional sports. Obviously the quarterback trio of Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, and Robert Griffin III took the NFL by storm in ’12, but the same could be said for Major League Baseball. Outfielders Mike Trout and Bryce Harper along with Orioles’ infielder Manny Machado all played pivotal roles for their respective clubs before their 21st birthdays.
Today, Whiztix.com takes an in-depth look at three of baseball’s top prospects that could all see considerable playing time in the big leagues for the upcoming season.
Jurickson Profar (19) – Shortstop, Texas Rangers
Many baseball enthusiasts remember Profar from his dominance in the Little League World Series as a youngster. The older Profar, whose younger brother Juremi recently signed with the Rangers as well, led the Pabao Little League of Curacao to a LLWS title in 2004 and a runner up finish the following year.
Now, eight years later, the silky-smooth shortstop is the consensus number one prospect in the MLB. Profar, despite currently weighing in at only 165 pounds, has adequate power as a switch hitter and defensively has the tools to become a consistent Gold Glove shortstop.
The 19-year old exploded onto the baseball scene last year after being called up in early September. In the heat of a postseason push, Profar was thrown into action and in his first career at-bat, took Cleveland’s Zach McAllister deep to straightaway center.
Profar would ultimately struggle in limited late season action hitting 3-17, but the expectations have surely been set. The question for Texas now is what to do with the young infielder?
Elvis Andrus was the everyday shortstop last year for the Rangers, and at only 24, is perfectly capable of fulfilling that role for years to come. But Profar is a rare talent that manager Ron Washington needs to have in the lineup if possible. Rumors are now circulating that with the uncertainty of Nelson Cruz in baseball’s PED scandal, that Profar could see time in right field during spring training.
Whether it’s in the outfield, or any infield position, Profar won’t benefit much from another full year in the minors. Look for him to be brought up permanently by the All-Star break.
Dylan Bundy (20) – Right Handed Pitcher, Baltimore Orioles
Buck Showalter’s 2012 success with the Orioles was one of baseball’s top “feel good” stories last year. With a pitching staff full of young and still unproven starters, Buck may once again turn to farm system for help as he did with Machado in ’12.
Dylan Bundy, Baltimore’s first pick in 2011 and ranked as the number two overall prospect, made the rare jump to the big league’s last year in just his first season out of high school. He saw time out of the bullpen in two appearances at the major league level, but it’s his numbers in the minors that have scouts drooling.
The numbers speak for themselves; 9-3 record with a 2.08 and an astounding 119 strikeouts in only 103.2 innings. The Orioles have been searching for another top of the rotation guy to compliment Jason Hammel and it appears Bundy will fit the profile.
Scouts compare Bundy to a smaller version of Nationals’ ace Stephen Strasburg. Bundy’s fastball tops out at around 99 mph to compliment a plus change-up that is considered to be one of the best among prospective pitchers. The franchise obviously has a close eye on his progression, but don’t be surprised if Buck rolls the dice once again and brings up Bundy if the O’s are amidst pennant race.
Wil Myers (22) – Outfielder, Tampa Bay Rays
Baseball’s number four prospect will have a change of scenery this year as Myers was traded to Tampa in December in the deal that sent James Shields to Kansas City. The move sets up Myers perfectly to make an early impact for the Rays as they lost B.J. Upton in the offseason.
Myers was initially drafted in the third round of the 2009 draft by Kansas City as a catcher. As the Nationals did with Harper, the Royals quickly moved Myers to the outfield in an attempt to prolong his career.
Desmond Jennings will most likely move over to center to replace Upton, which leaves a hole in right field for the Rays. Ben Zobrist was used as a utility man for much of last year bouncing around the infield and outfield. Zobrist is slated to start in right, but Myers will be patiently waiting in the wings.
Myers was one of the top minor league performers in 2012 hitting .314 with 37 home runs and 26 doubles. He fits perfectly in the middle of a lineup that contains a lot of speed at the top. A run-producing power hitter with the arm to play right field may be exactly what the Rays need to get back in the playoff hunt in 2013.
Matt Lawrence is a sophomore at Penn State University and a writing intern for Whiztix.com. Whiztix.com provides fans with the easiest way of comparing ticket prices on the web. Tickets for sporting events, concerts, and Broadway musicals can all be found Whiztix.com.