The National League Most Valuable Player was younger than the Rookie of the Year last season. In 2014, the same could be said of the American League. You've heard about Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. In fact, Harper was the on the cover of Sports Illustrated long before his actual impression was felt on the major leagues.
The game is getting younger. A 20-year old Roberto Osuna just helped the Toronto Blue Jays win their first division title in over two decades. A 23-year old Noah Syndergaard helped the New York Mets make it to the World Series. Even the Houston Astros arrived a year earlier than most expected with a youthful lineup that included Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers.
Which prospects could have their impact felt this season? Let's count down ten prospects from ten teams that could help this upcoming season.
10. Orlando Arcia - Milwaukee Brewers
Making the Brewers competitive is a tall order, and Milwaukee will need more than just Arcia to make waves in the NL Central. However, with Jean Segura out of the picture and only Jonathan Villar blocking the shortstop position, it's only a matter of time before Arcia finds his way into a major league lineup.
Considered to have a high-floor and also a high-ceiling, Baseball Prospectus ranks him 12th among all major league prospects going into 2016, jumping 81 spots since last season. Arcia's arm, glove and speed are his primary tools, though his bat isn't a weak spot either. If the Brewers wish not to rush him, there's an off chance he doesn't get the call this year though. A good Spring Training showing could help force David Stearns' hand.
9. Raul Mondesi - Kansas City Royals
After getting selected to be on the World Series roster, the Royals opted to barely use their 20-year old shortstop prospect. His notoriety in the Fall Classic will revolve around a pinch-hit effort against Syndergaard in which Mondesi struck out.
While he is still blocked by World Series MVP Alcides Escobar, Mondesi's speed and arm could still land him a spot with the big club out of Spring Training. Although he hasn't been an especially good hitter at any minor level, Mondesi could establish himself in the major leagues as a valuable asset. And if the Royals make another World Series appearance, perhaps Mondesi won't be pinch-hitting.
8. Tyler Glasnow - Pittsburgh Pirates
The 22-year old right-handed pitcher has an estimated time of arrival of 2016 according to MLB.com. While the Pirates rotation consists of Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, Jeff Locke, Jon Niese, and Ryan Vogelsong, extra pitching depth is always necessary on the road to contention.
Glasnow's fastball sits mid- to high-90s and his curveball is also a plus-pitch. While his changeup and command seem to be weak points, perhaps working with elite pitch framer Francisco Cervelli could help the youngster reach his potential. In eight starts in Triple-A Indianapolis last season, Glasnow's strikeout rate was 27.6 percent. While his walk rate was also a bit high at 12.6 percent, Glasnow's assistance might even be necessary for the Pirates to stay relevant in the behemoth NL Central division.
7. Steven Matz - New York Mets
In his first major league plate appearance, the Mets slugger drove in a pair with a double. He went on to set a franchise record for RBIs in a rookie debut. Wait a minute, Matz is a pitcher.
Believed to be so valuable that the Mets could put Matt Harvey on the trading block, Matz has already has his presence felt in the World Series. He pitched 14.2 innings in the postseason, didn't allow a single home run and posted a 2.18 FIP. Matz is as ready for the majors as they come with the only thing holding him back probably being some unfair expectations.
6. Yoan Moncada - Boston Red Sox
While Moncada's MLB.com ETA is 2017, the 20-year old prospect has natural talent "beyond his years" according to scouts at Baseball Prospectus. Moncada "shows glimpses of five tools" and could be a necessary asset if Hanley Ramirez or Pablo Sandoval continue their mediocrity.
While Moncada is a natural second baseman, a position change is likely in his future unless something completely unforeseen happens to Dustin Pedroia. Finding a spot for Moncada to play could be a legitimate challenge, but if he progresses through the minors quickly enough he could be a mid-season call-up.
5. J.P. Crawford - Philadelphia Phillies
Like Arcia, Crawford would have a huge, uphill battle to make his team competitive this upcoming season. The 21-year old shortstop jumped from 36th on Baseball Prospectus' 2015 rankings to fourth going into 2016. That jump is likely buoyed by an unbelievably dominant showing at High-A Clearwater, and an impressive showing at Double-A Reading this past season.
With Freddy Galvis the likely starter at shortstop for the Phillies heading into 2016, a call-up seems imminent for Crawford. For someone whose worst tool seems to be hitting, Crawford's bat has been excellent in the minors and could likely impress fans who are used to Galvis' bat over the past two seasons. Time will tell.
4. Joey Gallo - Texas Rangers
Quick, what's the one position the Rangers specifically don't need help? Poor Gallo happens to have his natural position the same as Adrian Beltre.
That's probably unfair, since the Rangers can be considered well-rounded at nearly every position other than the outfield and catcher. That could mean one of two things. First, Gallo sees his position change to an outfielder, which is definitely plausible since Josh Hamilton's defensive range has been deteriorating. Second, it could mean that actual outfield prospect Nomar Mazara makes it onto the major leagues first. Both players bats seem to project into major league lineups just fine, but scouts prefer the 22-year old Gallo's raw power to the 20-year old Mazara.
Both prospects could land on the big club in 2016 and both could help the Rangers improve on a 2015 AL West title.
3. Lucas Giolito - Washington Nationals
The Nationals had a pretty horrendous offseason. They missed out on almost all their reported free agent targets except Daniel Murphy, they lost Jordan Zimmermann, and they kept Jonathan Papelbon. And only one offseason after they were considered to be World Series favorites.
The good news is that not only is 21-year old right-hander Giolito seemingly ready for the big time, but so too is 22-year old middle-infielder Trea Turner. Fans are undoubtedly hoping for improvements on a disappointing 2015 campaign, and Giolito and Turner could help deliver hope.
2. Byron Buxton - Minnesota Twins
In 138 plate appearances with the Twins last year, Buxton didn't really deliver on his minors prowess. Not even his best tool -- his baserunning -- seemed to translate into any major league success.
That being said, a full season in The Bigs could actually yield the results Twins fans were hoping for. Penciled in to play centerfield in the upcoming season, Buxton has no real Spring Training competition for the role. After just barely missing the playoffs thanks to a red-hot April, the Twins haven't really improved over the offseason. Buxton will need to be an integral part of an otherwise average team to help them improve on 2015's unsuspected successes.
1. Corey Seager - Los Angeles Dodgers
With no one, truly-dominant tool, Seager excels at all facets of the game. The only thing that doesn't bode well for the 21-year old shortstop is the fact that Kike Hernandez, Chase Utley, and Howie Kendrick all need to figure out how to share second base and third base. Best case scenario: the infielders around him change often. Worst case scenario: Seager has to share shortstop.
In Seager's 113 plate appearances with the Dodgers last season, he hit 75 percent better than the league average by wRC+. Not better than the league average shortstop, better than the league average hitter. Perhaps Seager and Correa represent a coming golden age of slugging shortstops.
The Dodgers don't only have Seager waiting in the wings, but they also possess left-handed pitcher Julio Urias. With a jam-packed rotation of some atypical names, Urias may have to wait until mid-season for his call-up. Pitching depth is a need of many teams, especially ones like the Dodgers who look to perennially make postseason pushes. There's not much doubt that Urias will be at least a September call-up when rosters expand.