Minor league stats: 415 1/3 innings, 3.47 ERA, 9.9 K/9
Comment: The AL Rookie of the Year race, at least as it pertains to pitching candidates, might just go through Kansas City this season. Ranking as one of the Royals' prized prospects since signing out of the Dominican Republic, Ventura, a 6-foot righty with a dangerous fastball that can tough triple digits, is the heir apparent to free agent loss Ervin Santana in KC's rotation. He struck out 155 batters in 134 2/3 innings last season at Double- and Triple-A before getting the call-up (120 ERA+ in three MLB starts), and he'll be challenging AL batters from Opening Day this time around. Any comparisons to Pedro Martinez are going to be extreme and probably unattainable, but Ventura, 22, has top-of-the-rotation stuff and a very, very good track record entering 2014.
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY SportsSteven Bisig
George Springer, OF, Astros
Minor league stats: 1,203 plate appearances, .299/.394/.558, 62 HR
Comment: Projected to sit behind Dexter Fowler, Robbie Grossman and L.J. Hoes to start the season, Springer should see plenty of time this season for an Astros organization still building from the floor up. Springer, 24, dominated at Triple-A Oklahoma City last season, hitting .311/.425/.626 with 18 home runs in 266 plate appearances. Those numbers probably aren't attainable in the majors for a guy with such a high strikeout rate, but there are few things Springer does not do well on the field. The Astros will have no choice but to eventually put him on the field.
David Manning-USA TODAY SportsDavid Manning
Andrew Heaney, LHP, Marlins
Minor league stats: 122 1/3 innings, 2.21 ERA, 3.72 K/BB
Comment: The Marlins rotation is overflowing with young talent (Jose Fernandez, Nate Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez) and Heaney, a lefty out of Oklahoma State, might be the final piece to the puzzle. He boasts a 2.21 ERA and 3.72-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the minors thanks in large part to his plus control, and while he isn't the overpowering Fernandez -- the 2013 NL Rookie of the Year -- how many guys are? Heaney, 22, should be up sometime this season, adding yet another arm to a promising young corps.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY SportsSteve Mitchell
Travis d'Arnaud, C, Mets
Minor league stats: 2,150 plate appearances, .286/.347/.476, 69 HR
Comment: The Mets' 25-year-old catcher just made the rookie cutoff by 31 at-bats, but he'll enter the 2014 season as one of the few rookies on this list expected to be on a 25-man roster from Opening Day on. Following stints in the Phillies and Blue Jays farm systems, d'Arnaud came to New York in the R.A. Dickey trade and it's only been a forgone conclusion that he would eventually make the big league team for good. In his final Triple-A stint, he hit .304/.487/.554 in 78 plate appearances. He got off to a slow big league start last season, but his bat projects and his defense is good enough that he should be around Citi Field for a while.
Brad Barr-USA TODAY SportsBrad Barr
Jose Abreu, 1B, White Sox
Minor league stats: N/A (signed October 2013)
Comment: The Cuban native might be the most interesting prospect on this list -- if you can still call him a prospect. At 27 years old, he's ready to contribute immediately since signing a lucrative $68 million free agent contract (the largest in franchise history) following a dominant season in the Cuban professional league: he batted .316/.479/.604 with 19 home runs in 83 games. The White Sox, who finished second-to-last in the majors in runs scored last season, could certainly use that type of offensive production immediately. They probably wouldn't mind if he lived up to his lofty nickname -- "Cuban baseball's Barry Bonds" -- either. High praise, right?
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY SportsJoe Camporeale
Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox
Minor league stats: 1,623 plate appearances, .296/.373/.489, 54 HR
Comment: Last season's acquisition of Jake Peavy, which helped the franchise win its third World Series title in 10 years, was made possible by Bogaerts. A key piece in the deal was shortstop Jose Iglesias, a defensive whiz, but a promising player the team was willing to trade because there was a 6-foot-3 replacement hitting .284/.369/.453 with nine home runs in 60 games at Triple-A Pawtuckett. Bogaerts has the bat and certainly looks the part of a star at shortstop, and his minor league numbers and a consensus top-10 ranking among MLB prospects only underlines the 21-year-old's value within the organization. Expect a breakout season over the next few years.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY SportsJerome Miron
Nick Castellanos, 3B, Tigers
Minor league stats: 1,770 plate appearances, .303/.359/.445, 35 HR
Comment: With Tigers superstar Miguel Cabrera making the move to first base to replace Prince Fielder (traded to Rangers), the door is open for the organization's 2010 first-round pick to break through. Castellanos played well against Triple-AAA competition last season in Toledo, hitting .276/.343/.450 and cranking 18 home runs in 595 plate appearances, and he's expected to be up full-time in 2014. His bat projects, so set the over-under for his home runs around 12 this season and go from there in Detroit.
Brad Barr-USA TODAY SportsBrad Barr
Taijuan Walker, RHP, Mariners
Minor league stats: ; 271 2/3 innings, 3.49 ERA, 2.68 K/BB
Comment: It was a rocky spring training health-wise for the eighth-rated overall prospect in baseball (according to MLB.com), but he's still expected to be in the Mariners rotation making noise every fifth day in the not-too-distant future. The organization's 2010 first-round pick was a 10 strikeout per nine innings-type of guy in the minors -- making for a potentially lethal 1-2 punch with Felix Hernandez -- and his major league debut derailed none of the hype: he went 15 innings in three starts, racking up a 0.5 WAR while allowing six earned runs and striking out 12 batters. Armed with a mid-90s fastball that he mixes with some good off-speed stuff, the Mariners' future rotation is in good shape.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY SportsTroy Taormina
Archie Bradley, RHP, Diamondbacks
Minor league stats: 290 innings, 2.76 ERA, 9.9 K/9
Comment: Archie Bradley's time is now. With Diamondbacks lefty Patrick Corbin out for the season, Bradley, one of the most-coveted prospects in all of baseball, will need to play a pivotal role if Arizona is going to keep pace with division favorite Los Angeles. Bradley still needs to cut down on his walks, but he was excellent at Double-A Mobile last season, holding a 1.97 ERA through 123 1/3 innings. He has averaged nearly 10 strikeouts per nine innings in the minors thanks to his overpowering stuff. The 21-year-old will start the season in Triple-A, but his services will more than likely be needed before season's end.
USA TODAY SportsBrad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Billy Hamilton, OF, Reds
Minor league stats: 2,258 plate appearances, .280/.350/.378, 395 steals
Comment: Speed, speed, speed. The preseason Vegas odds on Hamilton's steals are set at 63.5; for some perspective, Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury led the majors with 52 steals last season. Hamilton, who was originally a shortstop in the Reds organization before moving to the outfield, broke Vince Coleman's 1983 minor league single-season record for steals in 2012 (155) and he hash't looked back: he stole 13 bags in 13 MLB games last season. He swiped nine bases in spring training. The question now is how his bat will hold up in the Reds' leadoff spot (his expected slot in the lineup because, well, speed). His career .350 on-base percentage as a switch-hitter bodes well for Joey Votto & Co.