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Prospects who may not have to wait

2/9/2012
Matt Moore debuted in 2011 to rave reviews and could be a big factor in the AL East in 2012. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Colleague Keith Law released his top 100 prospects list today, and this includes a bunch of youngsters who won't reach the big leagues until late in 2014 or 2015.

But there will be some young players who will have an immediate impact this coming season -- some right away, some later in the year. Based on how spring training goes, every guy on this list at least has a chance to begin the year in the big leagues.

1. Matt Moore, P, Tampa Bay Rays

He figures to be a dangerous weapon in the Tampa Bay rotation, and there are plenty of New York Yankees and Texas Rangers who saw the left-hander late last season who will attest to Moore's extraordinary ability. He is the American League version of Stephen Strasburg. A lot of young starters are greatly limited by an innings count early in their careers, but remember -- Moore was drafted in 2007 and he threw 174.1 innings last season, between the minors (155) and majors (19.1), including the postseason. So the Rays will likely be OK with him throwing about 200 innings this year.

2. Jesus Montero, C-DH, Seattle Mariners

There will be lots of debate in spring training about whether Montero is ready to catch in the big leagues and whether his future is as an everyday catcher or DH. But he will hit, and he will hit somewhere in the middle of the Seattle lineup, which is why the Yankees have felt all along that there is less risk for the Mariners in the Michael Pineda trade than there is for the Yankees.

3. Devin Mesoraco, C, Cincinnati Reds

Ramon Hernandez is gone, and now Mesoraco will ascend to the big leagues to at least share the catching duties with Ryan Hanigan, for a team that will contend for the National League Central title.

4. Bryce Harper, RF, Washington Nationals

The more conservative faction in the Washington organization will want Harper to start 2012 in the minor leagues, while manager Davey Johnson will probably be the strongest advocate for opening the year with Harper as his everyday right fielder. Johnson said a few weeks ago that he thinks Harper can adjust to breaking balls and use the whole field, two prerequisites for a young player to advance to the big leagues. But regardless of whether Harper starts the year in Triple-A or in Washington, he's going to be in the big leagues sometime early in 2012.

5. Julio Teheran, P, Atlanta Braves

The only unknown about Teheran is how he'll get his chance, because the Braves have a lot of returning starting pitchers with Tim Hudson, Brandon Beachy, Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens and Mike Minor. But the opportunity will be there at some point.

6. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies

Colorado thinks he's ready as a hitter and ready defensively, and now that Ian Stewart is gone and Casey Blake is serving as stand-in at third base, the future at the position belongs to Arenado.

7/8. Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Bauer, pitchers, Arizona Diamondbacks

Part of the reason Arizona should be the favorite to win the NL West to open the year is the D-backs' remarkable depth, and Skaggs and Bauer are a part of that. Whether it's because of injury or because Skaggs and Bauer force their way to the majors, they will both be factors this year.

9. Jacob Turner, P, Detroit Tigers

Detroit talked about Turner as possible trade bait a little, but in the end, GM David Dombrowski clung to the right-hander, who figures to get a shot in the big leagues sometime this year. Remember -- the Tigers haven't filled the No. 5 spot in their rotation, and Turner impressed in his one start last year.

10. Drew Pomeranz, P, Rockies

He had a handful of starts in Double-A last year and dominated. His innings count will be closely monitored by the Rockies this year.

Potential trade targets

Inspired by a conversation with colleague Jayson Stark, some guys who might be traded in spring training (or before):

John Lannan, Nationals: He's an extra guy now, and Washington already has talked with other teams about dealing him. Lannan is unfazed by the signing of Edwin Jackson, writes Adam Kilgore.

A.J. Burnett, Yankees: The Pittsburgh Pirates are among the teams taking a look at Burnett. The Yankees are prepared to eat a lot of the $35 million that's still owed to the right-hander.

Jeff Niemann, Rays: Tampa Bay isn't going to give him away, but at the same time, the Rays have six starters for five spots and Niemann is probably the most likely guy to move if they choose to make a deal.

Jake Westbrook, St. Louis Cardinals: Roy Oswalt wants to play with the Cardinals and they are interested, but Oswalt continues to look for more money. If St. Louis signs Oswalt, Westbrook would be the most likely guy to get bumped out of the rotation and into the bullpen. If Westbrook was devoted to the idea of continuing as a starter, he would have to waive his full no-trade clause.

There has been no progress between the Boston Red Sox and Oswalt, writes Scott Lauber.

Notables

• The Miami Marlins served as hosts for Yoenis Cespedes and are a natural fit for him, writes Greg Cote.

It's a heck of a gamble for the franchise. To put this into perspective for the Marlins: Before the offseason began, the only deal of more than $40 million made by the Marlins was with Hanley Ramirez. And this would be the third such deal for Miami in the last three months.

The Marlins say they're OK with the risks presented by Cespedes.

Cespedes is not worth the risk for the Tigers, writes Tony Paul.

• Sandy Alderson has been forced to remake the New York Mets on the cheap, as Andrew Keh writes.

It's sort of an existential question that nobody can know the answer to: Would Alderson have taken the job if he had known exactly just how deeply the Mets' cuts were going to go?

Baltimore Orioles scouts have been banned from games in South Korea.

• A basketball owner is among the bidders for the Los Angeles Dodgers, writes Bill Shaikin.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. The Yankees added depth with Russell Branyan, a signing that has no bearing on whether they sign Raul Ibanez.

2. The Orioles signed Nick Johnson.

3. Zack Greinke likes it with the Milwaukee Brewers, says Doug Melvin.

4. The Reds announced the Ryan Ludwick signing.

5. The Houston Astros avoided arbitration with Jed Lowrie.

6. The Rangers are close to a two-year deal with Nelson Cruz, writes Evan Grant.

7. Elvis Andrus is super happy with his new three-year deal, writes Gerry Fraley.

8. Rafael Betancourt goes into spring training as the Rockies' closer, as Troy Renck writes.

9. Rich Harden had shoulder surgery.

10. The San Diego Padres signed Jeff Suppan.

11. The Mariners might not be as young as expected.

Other stuff

• Gary Carter has shown extraordinary courage to his players, writes Jeff Bradley.

• Oil Can Boyd says he pitched about two-thirds of his games under the influence of cocaine, writes Nick Cafardo.

Adam Wainwright feels really good.

Chris Perez had some thoughts.

James Loney said his odd reaction happened because he was hit on the head.

• The Nationals are reaping the harvest from their farm system.

• The Yankees are getting a Japanese pitcher without the mystery, writes David Waldstein.

• A look at Phillies newcomer Ty Wigginton.

• A bunch of Tigers spring training games will be televised.

• A bunch of Rays games will be televised this summer.

• The Hall of Fame is beginning a drug education program.

• Vanderbilt had a strong second half.

And today will be better than yesterday.