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January 3, 2013

Minor League Update

Ten NL Prospects Who Could Start the Season in the Majors

by Jason Martinez

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Yesterday, I listed ten American League prospects that will be competing for a big league job in Spring Training and have a legitimate chance to start the season in the majors. Here's a look at ten National League prospects.

  • Tony Cingrani, LHP, Cincinnati Reds: If Aroldis Chapman happens to start the season in the rotation, as has been discussed, the Reds would have just one lefty, Sean Marshall, locked in to a bullpen spot. While Cingrani appears to have a future as a big league starter, he could help out now as a second lefty out of the 'pen. The 23 year-old made three relief appearances during a September call-up, allowing a run in five innings with 2 walks and nine strikeouts. 
     
  • Adam Eaton, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks traded center fielder Chris Young to the A's early in the offseason, which seemingly opened up the starting job for Eaton, a 24 year-old who had a .794 OPS in 22 September games. But the recent signing of Cody Ross clouds Eaton's immediate future because the team already has Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra, and Justin Upton on the roster. While they say they're happy to stand pat, which means Eaton would likely start in Triple-A, they are very likely to continue exploring a deal for Kubel or Upton so Ross can play a corner spot and Eaton can play center field. 
     
  • Evan Gattis, OF, Atlanta Braves: This offseason, the thinking was that the Braves would add two outfielders, allowing Martin Prado to move from left field to play third base full-time. As of now, they've only added one, center fielder B.J. Upton, leaving a platoon of Juan Francisco (3B) and Reed Johnson (LF) to fill the void. Recent talks, however, involve Gattis, a converted catcher who is playing left field in Venezuela, getting a shot to win a starting job in Spring Training. The 26 year-old had 34 homers in 2012 between Hi-A, Double-A, and Venezuela. 
     
  • Jedd Gyorko, 2B, San Diego Padres: The Padres could be content to allow Logan Forsythe to start the season as the starting second baseman but Gyorko's bat appears to be major league ready and he could break camp with the team if he clearly outplays Forsythe in Spring Training. Despite his defensive limitations, the Padres think he can handle the position and his bat should more than make up for it. The 24 year-old had 30 homers and a .921 OPS in 126 games between Double-A and Triple-A in 2012. 
     
  • Kyle McPherson, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates: The Bucs now have solid veterans filling out the first four spots of the starting rotation and one spot up for grabs with McPherson among the candidates. The 25 year-old is coming off of a stellar season in which he walked just 16 batters and struck out 84 in 93.1 innings between Double-A, Triple-A, and the majors. He's not going to strike out a ton of hitters in the big leagues, but he throws strikes and should be a solid back-of-the-rotation innings-eater for a Bucs team that has ran out of gas in the second half of the past two seasons. 
     
  • Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals: Something clicked for Miller in the second half of 2012 and he appears primed to make the permanent jump to the majors in 2013. After posting a 6.17 ERA in his first 17 starts, Miller dominated with a 2.88 ERA, 7 walks, and 70 strikeouts in his last 59.1 Triple-A innings and then pitched well after a late-season major league call-up. The Cardinals have excellent starting pitching depth, but Miller could force his way into the mix with a strong camp. 
     
  • Josh Prince, IF/OF, Milwaukee Brewers: Primarily a shortstop until 2012, when he played 128 games in center field for Double-A Huntsville, Prince has the versatility, speed, and on-base ability to help the Brewers in the near future. The 24 year-old hopes to parlay an impressive Arizona Fall League performance (1.064 OPS, 10 SB in 25 games) into an opportunity to win a super-utility role with Milwaukee. 
     
  • Trevor Rosenthal, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals: A deep bullpen could allow the Cardinals to keep Rosenthal in the minors where he can continue to develop as a starter. But why do that when he could be a dominant late-inning reliever now? The 22 year-old posted a 2.78 ERA with 7 walks and 25 strikeouts in 22.1 big league innings in 2012 while flashing a fastball that reached triple digits and an assortment of secondary pitches. 
     
  • Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks: His main competition for the last rotation spot, Trevor Bauer, was traded to the Indians, meaning Skaggs is now the front runner for the job. Many think the 21 year-old Skaggs would've won the job anyway, filling out an impressive rotation that includes right-handers Ian Kennedy, Brandon McCarthy, and Trevor Cahill, and All-Star lefty Wade Miley
     
  • Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves: On the prospect radar for years, the buzz surrounding Teheran had died down after a disappointing season in Triple-A. But once people remember he's only 21 years old and still has top-of-the-rotation potential, it's hard not to get excited about Teheran winning a rotation spot in the spring and pitching every fifth day for the Braves. He'll have to beat out Randall Delgado, although he already left a lasting impression with his last three starts in the Dominican Winter League (16.2 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 4 BB, 15 K).

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