AGE: 24. CAREER STATS: .258/.324/.400, 2.4 WAR. RUNDOWN: The list of cuts was brutal. Pirates standout Gregory Polanco could be poised for a breakout season. Jose Ramirez flashed signs of a future Gold Glover in Cleveland. Ender Inciarte, Danny Santana, Trevor Rosenthal, Chris Owings, Mike Zunino, Jake Marisnick are on a long list of game-changing rookies. Myers isn't a throwaway pick here, though. The new Padres outfielder is a season removed from winning the AL Rookie of the Year award -- posting an excellent 131 weighted runs created plus -- and if there's a bounce-back year in store San Diego will feature a dominant outfield.
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY SportsRick Scuteri
Zack Wheeler, SP, Mets
AGE: 24. CAREER STATS: 3.50 ERA, 3.77 FIP, 3.4 WAR. RUNDOWN: Wheeler's value takes a hit here as he will miss the entire 2015 season with a torn UCL. With Tommy John success rates hovering around 80 percent, there's no guarantee Wheeler will ever re-join a talented Mets rotation as the player he once was -- although the hope is that he follows ace Matt Harvey and makes a full recovery. Still, it's worth noting that Wheeler was moving in the right direction, upping his strikeout rate and cutting down on his walks last season, in his second year. He gets the slight nod over honorable-mention pitchers Carlos Martinez (Cardinals), Trevor Bauer (Indians) and Ken Giles (Phillies).
David Kohl-USA TODAY SportsDavid Kohl
Billy Hamilton, OF, Reds
AGE: 24. CAREER STATS: .254/.297/.359, 4.3 WAR. RUNDOWN: Hamilton can fly -- this much is certain. Perhaps the league's fastest player, he's logged 69 steals in his first 165 games while also posting a plus-plus defensive season in center field for Cincinnati. He provides plenty of value overall, but when will his offensive numbers catch up to his wheels? The popular saying 'you can't steal first' applies to Hamilton, whose sub-.300 on-base percentage is not ideal for a leadoff hitter.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY SportCharles LeClaire
Javier Baez, 2B/SS, Cubs
AGE: 22. CAREER STATS: .169/.227/.324, -0.9 WAR. RUNDOWN: Baez owns the worst career numbers on this list (and the least amount of experience), but he's part of a Cubs farm system that is poised to start making a difference. Baez, a former top-10 pick and top-five prospect, has all the power Cubs manager Joe Maddon could ask for. The issue, for the moment, is strikeouts. He fanned more than 20 percent of the time at nearly every minor-league stop and then logged 95 strikeouts in 229 major-league plate appearances last season. That needs to change, but there's little reason to believe it won't improve dramatically in 2015.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY SportCharles LeClaire
Xander Bogaerts, 3B/SS, Red Sox
AGE: 22. CAREER STATS: .241/.299/.363, 0.5 WAR. RUNDOWN: Bogaerts didn't exactly set the world on fire during his rookie season. After a fast start, he couldn't find sustained success at the plate, and his defensive work at third base and shortstop left plenty to be desired. Still, try not to be too harsh on a player entering his age 22 season. Bogaerts still has the minor-league credentials and all the tools you want in a young player. He was a top-five overall prospect for a reason. Give it some time.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsKim Klement
Henderson Alvarez, SP, Marlins
AGE: 24. CAREER STATS: 3.70 ERA, 4.10 FIP, 5.0 WAR. RUNDOWN: With Jose Fernandez missing most of last season, Alvarez had to take on a larger role in Miami's rotation. He delivered with the best season of his three-plus-year career and a 2.65 ERA over 187 innings. Relying on an excellent changeup and an above-average ground ball rate, Alvarez doesn't overpower many batters. His career strikeout and walk rates are both well below the league average, so, for him, it's a matter of staying in control. That formula has made him a solid mid-rotation option thus far.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsMark J. Rebilas
Kevin Kiermaier, OF, Rays
AGE: 24. CAREER STATRS: .263/.315/.450, 4.0 WAR. RUNDOWN: Kiermaier slipped under the AL Rookie of the Year radar last season, but he was a difference-maker for the Rays. He hit well above the league average, and only six outfielders saved more runs defensively. The result? He posted just the 10th four-win season by a rookie outfielder since the turn of the century. After losing Ben Zobrist, Matt Joyce and Wil Myers, the Rays outfield needs his production more than ever.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY SportsJeff Curry
Marcus Stroman, SP, Blue Jays
AGE: 23. CAREER STATS: 3.65 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 3.0 WAR. RUNDOWN: Stroman is a top-10 talent on this list. However, much like Zack Wheeler (No. 24), his ranking takes a hit because he'll miss the entire 2015 season. The Blue Jays star tore his ACL while fielding a bunt in spring training. Boasting a nasty repertoire and the rookie numbers to match, Stroman is one of the brightest young stars in the game. His loss is a major hit to Toronto's postseason chances, but, given that there's no damage to his arm, he should get back to striking out batters in due time.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY SportsRick Osentoski
Marcell Ozuna, OF, Marlins
AGE: 24. CAREER STATS: .268/.313/.433, 5.4 WAR. RUNDOWN: Don't look now, but the Marlins might give the Pirates a run for their money in terms of baseball's top outfield. Alongside MVP favorite Giancarlo Stanton and fellow under-25 star Christian Yelich, Ozuna enjoyed an excellent 2014 season. His power numbers (23 homers) caught up to his minor-league rates, and he's become a plus-plus defender. If he can develop a little better plate discipline, he's going to terrorize National League pitching.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY SportsSteve Mitchell
Michael Wacha, SP, Cardinals
AGE: 23. CAREER STATS 3.04 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 3.2 WAR. RUNDOWN: A highly regarded prospect out of the Cardinals' deep farm system, Wacha was unable to improve upon his ridiculous rookie season (2.92 FIP in 64 2/3 innings) in 2014 while dealing with shoulder issues. But with St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright not getting any younger and Shelby Miller traded to Atlanta in the Jason Heyward deal, more is expected out of Wacha -- along with talented teammate Carlos Martinez, an honorable mention on this list -- in his third MLB season. He's got great peripherals, top-of-the-rotation stuff and quality command, he just needs to put it all together for 30-plus starts.
Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY SportsJoy R. Absalon
Alex Wood, SP, Braves
AGE: 24. CAREER STATS: 2.89 ERA, 3.07 FIP, 4.4 WAR. RUNDOWN: After being selected in the second round of the 2012 draft, Wood has yet to hit a career snag. He rocketed through the minors and then excelled while fluctuating between Atlanta's bullpen and rotation. Now, the unorthodox southpaw enters his first season without an innings limit, and expectations are high for him and the Braves' young pitching trio, rounded out by fellow 24-year-olds Julio Teheran and Shelby Miller. Wood is one of 20 pitchers to throw 200 or more innings with a sub-3.00 ERA over the past two seasons.
Jason Getz-USA TODAY SportsJason Getz
Gerrit Cole, SP, Pirates
AGE: 24. CAREER STATS: 3.45 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 4.8 WAR. RUNDOWN: The career peripherals of Cole, Alex Wood (No. 15) and Michael Wacha (No. 16) are incredibly similar. In terms of career fielding-independent pitching -- FIP, which accounts for factors pitchers can control -- they are practically the same pitcher. Cole gets the slight nod for upside. The former No. 1 overall pick has two very solid seasons under his belt, and if he can stay healthy and log 200-plus innings for the first time in his career he could join the upper echelon of MLB's young aces.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY SporJayne Kamin-Oncea
Salvador Perez, C, Royals
AGE: 24. CAREER STATS: .285/.315/.433, 10.3 WAR. RUNDOWN: The most-experienced member of this list, Perez received more national attention last season after making his second All-Star team and playing well in the World Series. Though his offensive numbers tapered off, he's still an anchor behind the plate: Since his 2011 rookie season, only Cardinals star Yadier Molina has saved more runs among MLB catchers.
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY SportsPeter Aiken
Mookie Betts, 2B/OF, Red Sox
AGE: 22. CAREER STATS: .291/.368/.444, 1.9 WAR. RUNDOWN: Betts is the biggest gamble in this countdown. After debuting last June, the young outfielder backed up his sensational minor-league numbers by posting similarly sensational MLB stats. He showed ahead-of-his-time plate discipline, flashed some speed and projectable power and fielded his position well. The difficulty comes from making judgments based on 213 career plate appearances. All the same, lumping together his entire pro track record to date, Boston looks like it has an up-and-coming star on its hands.
David Butler II-USA TODAY SportsDavid Butler II
Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros
AGE: 24. CAREER STATS: .302/.340/.401, 7.3 WAR. RUNDOWN: Altuve's 2014 season suggests he should be, at the very least, a few spots higher on this list. Hitting a scintillating .341/377/.453 and stealing 56 bases, he posted the best offensive numbers of any second baseman not named Robinson Cano. Houston's diminutive leadoff hitter was not nearly as effective in his first three seasons, though, so can he continue to produce at that All-Star level? With an influx of talent, particularly in the power department, the Astros need their on-base machine to keep coming through.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsKim Klement
Yordano Ventura, SP, Royals
AGE: 23. CAREER STATS: 3.22 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 2.4 WAR. RUNDOWN: With James Shields in San Diego, this emerging ace takes over the No. 1 starter spot for the defending AL champs. Stuff-wise, when he's commanding his explosive fastball, Ventura is nasty. He capped off a breakout rookie season with two excellent World Series starts (1.46 ERA) and now looks to cement his status in the pitching-heavy AL Central. The only thing keeping Ventura from moving up this list is proven consistency -- so far, we've only received a 37-start glimpse of just how good he can be.
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Julio Teheran, SP, Braves
AGE: 24. CAREER STATS: 3.16 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 6.2 WAR. RUNDOWN: Teheran was listed as one of the top prospects in baseball when things went south. He was rather ineffective in his 2011 debut (at 20 years old), then floundered the following season in Triple-A. Things have gone much, much better ever since. Fast forward three years, and Teheran is the No. 1 starter in Atlanta with two high-quality seasons behind him. His 3.03 ERA is 12th-best in baseball over the past two years, right behind Max Scherzer and Corey Kluber.
Brad Mills-USA TODAY SportsBrad Mills
Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies
AGE: 23. CAREER STATS: .277/.314/.450, 5.5 WAR. RUNDOWN: The defensive whiz developed a bat, so what's next? With two Gold Gloves to his name before turning 24, Arenado's dramatically improved batting numbers arguably give Colorado the majors' most potent left side of the infield (along with shortstop Troy Tulowitzki) when healthy. Though he missed 51 games last season, Arenado, a former second-round pick, is already on the shortlist of top all-around third basemen and is looking for a breakout campaign in 2015.
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY SportsChris Humphreys
Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins
AGE: 23. CAREER STATS: .285/.365/.400, 5.6 WAR. RUNDOWN: The Marlins recently wrapped up the second piece of their ultra-talented outfield with a seven-year, $49 million contract extension, and why not? A prototypical leadoff who has shown remarkable consistency in his first two seasons -- not to mention his '14 Gold Glove -- Yelich joins outfield mates Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna (No. 17) as the potential catalysts for a Miami team looking to make a playoff push in 2015.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY SportsKevin Jairaj
Anthony Rendon, 3B/2B, Nationals
AGE: 24. CAREER STATS: .279/.343/.445, 8.0 WAR. RUNDOWN: Following up on his excellent minor-league career and a solid rookie season, Rendon exploded in 2014, performing like a top-10 overall player. The 24-year-old hit .287/.351/.473 with 21 home runs while showing off a plus glove at both second and third base and finishing fifth in the NL MVP race. The only question: Can Rendon post those numbers on a consistent basis? If so, he's vastly underrated at this spot.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY SportsKyle Terada
Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals
AGE: 22. CAREER STATS: .272/.361/.465, 10.0 WAR. RUNDOWN: The former No. 1 overall pick is entering his age-22 season with two All-Star-caliber years (four-plus wins above replacement) under his belt. Put his quiet 2014 campaign aside: He's the second-youngest player on this list, and he owns the third-highest career WAR. If Harper gets back to his 2012-13 levels of production, the Nationals are in good hands.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY SportsRon Chenoy
Jose Fernandez, SP, Marlins
AGE: 22. CAREER STATS: 2.25 ERA, 2.60 FIP, 5.8 WAR. RUNDOWN: The Marlins ace might have nabbed the No. 2 spot on this list were it not for last year's Tommy John surgery. Following a sensational 2013 Rookie of the Year season -- posting the third-lowest ERA by a player under age 22 since 1960, right behind Dwight Gooden and Vida Blue -- Fernandez got a chance to dominate for eight starts last season. When healthy, he's a Cy Young candidate and, without question, the best young starter in baseball.
Howard Smith-USA TODAY SportsHoward Smith
Yasiel Puig, OF, Dodgers
AGE: 24. CAREER STATS: .305/.386/.502, 9.5 WAR. RUNDOWN: Since he burst onto the scene in 2013, only five MLB players have posted better offensive numbers than the Dodgers superstar. A five-tool outfielder, he's quickly become one of the most feared hitters in the National League, and he'll anchor a Los Angeles lineup looking to finally break through in the postseason. Though Bryce Harper (No. 5) is two years younger, Puig has been the more dynamic and consistent player to date.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY SportsJoe Camporeale
Manny Machado, 3B, Orioles
AGE: 22. CAREER STATS: .278/.313/.434, 9.8 WAR. RUNDOWN: Coming off a knee surgery that ended his 2014 season prematurely, Baltimore's star is not a clear-cut No. 2 on this list. His bat hasn't produced quite at the level of that of Puig, Harper or Rendon and it's unclear what effect the knee will have in 2015. Still, at just 22 years old, Machado has already posted a borderline MVP-caliber season, and he's one of the best defensive players at any position. In the past 30 years, only six position players under 22 years old have posted six-win seasons: Mike Trout, Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, Andruw Jones, Ken Griffey Jr. ... and Machado.
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY SportsBruce Kluckhohn
Mike Trout, OF, Angels
AGE: 23. CAREER STATS: .305/.395/.549, 29.5 WAR. RUNDOWN: The no-brainer choice. Trout is in an entirely different stratosphere than the other 24 players on this list -- his peers entering his age-23 season are more along the lines of Ted Williams, Mel Ott and Mickey Mantle. The Angels star won his first American League MVP award in 2014 after being the runaway best player in baseball since 2012, his first full season. Entering the inaugural year of his mega-deal, a another strong run at the award seems like a given.