Byron Buxton is the consensus top prospect in the game. The future Twins center fielder has the kind of ceiling that you'd hire Michelangelo to paint. Baseball Prospectus' prospects guru Jason Parks has referenced one scout who described the floor for Buxton's major league career being comparable to Torii Hunter. His five tools have five tools. He is wonderful. He is not, however, likely to make any impact on the Twins fortunes in 2014. He could crack the roster at some point if he shows that the minors simply cannot contain all the awesomeness he brings to bear, but the chances are small. He still needs development. The Twins need to control his service time. He will probably be a non-factor in the 2014.
The player generally regarded as the number-two prospect in the game is a different story. The Red Sox will start Xander Bogaerts at shortstop this season on a daily basis. A renaissance master would not be wasted on Bogaerts's ceiling even if it is less Sistine-like than Buxton's. He has an impact bat, excellent instincts for the game and the ability to handle shortstop without hurting the team. He could easily have the greatest impact of any prospect baseball for 2014. Or he may not even be the most impactful prospect on the Red Sox. If Jackie Bradley Jr. replaces Jacoby Ellsbury with aplomb, even a solid rookie year from Bogaerts could be overshadowed. Several other young Red Sox could also get a chance at the title if injuries open up some more holes in the World Champions roster this year.
Top prospects like Buxton and Bogaerts are expected to have a dramatic impact in their careers, but that impact may not be immediate. Less well-regarded prospects could step into more important roles, fill more desperate needs or simply outshine many a top prospect this coming season.
Which prospect will have the biggest impact on your favorite team in 2014?
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