Here's a ranking of the 10 prospects we're most excited to see light up the California League in 2013:
No. 1. Addison Russell (SS Stockton Ports): The A's first-round pick in 2012 made three stops on his pro baseball tour last year, excelling at all of them. Russell batted .369 in 55 Minor League games and posted a 1.027 OPS, legging out a remarkable nine triples. The Florida native also stole 16 bases in 18 attempts. Scouts believe his abilities as a hitter will improve as he learns to handle offspeed pitches better, making an upper level like the Cal League a good test for the 19-year-old shortstop.
No. 2. Archie Bradley (SP Visalia Rawhide): After being selected in the first round of the 2011 Draft out of Broken Arrow High School, you might have forgiven Bradley if he had difficulty adjusting to the Midwest League in his full-season debut. However, the 20-year-old right-hander limited opposing batters to a .181 average against while posting a 3.84 ERA. Surprisingly, Bradley racked up 92 of his 152 strikeouts in the season's second-half.
No. 3. Trevor Story (SS Modesto Nuts): One of the key components of the Asheville Tourists' title run last year, Story brings his advanced bat to Modesto. Like his counterpart in Colorado, Story has lots of pop, racking up 43 doubles, six triples and 18 homers a year ago. He also drew 60 walks while stealing 15 bases and finished tied for second in the South Atlantic League with 96 runs scored. His arm at shortstop draws high marks from scouts as well, giving the Nuts a very good all-around threat.
No. 4. Kyle Crick (SP San Jose Giants):To say Kyle Crick dominated in 2012 might be an understatement. Making his full-season debut for Augusta, Crick struck out 128 batters over 111 1/3 innings, limited South Atlantic League batters to a .193 average and yielded just one homer all season. He posted a 2.51 ERA as compared to the league average of 4.18 and won seven games for the Grasshoppers.
No. 5. Austin Hedges (C Lake Elsinore Storm): A second-round pick by the Padres in 2011, Hedges showed a solid bat in his full-season debut last year, hitting .279 with 38 extra-base hits in just 338 at-bats for the Fort Wayne TinCaps. Perhaps most surprising, considering his position, were his 14 stolen bases. Already thought of as a strong defensive catcher by scouts, Hedges threw out 32 percent of base stealers last year.
No. 6. Tyler Anderson (SP Modesto Nuts): The rotation anchor for the championship Tourists, Anderson showed the advanced approach one would expect of a college product. The 6-foot-4 left-hander led the organization with a 2.47 ERA and finished 12-3. Featuring an outstanding changeup, Anderson finished second in the South Atlantic League with a 1.08 WHIP and yielded just five homers over 120 1/3 innings for Asheville.
No. 7. Delino DeShields (2B Lancaster JetHawks): DeShields was one of two Minor Leaguers to steal over 100 bases last season (Billy Hamilton being the other), the first time that's happened since 1983. He ended the year in Lancaster, batting just .237 for the club, but turned it around in the post-season, earning playoff MVP for the JetHawks. Overall, the 2010 first-round pick posted a .389 on-base percentage, drawing 83 walks over 135 Minor leagues games.
No. 8. Will Swanner (C Modesto Nuts): Rounding out the trio of Rockies prospects who should have a big impact on the Cal League in 2013 is catcher Will Swanner. A 15th-round pick in 2010, Swanner has been brought along slowly, not making his full-season debut until 2012. But oh what a debut. Playing in 88 games, Swanner batted .302 with 16 homers and a .915 OPS that would have ranked third in the South Atlantic League had he enough plate appearances to qualify. Swanner could use some polish behind the plate, as he threw out less than 10 percent of base stealers in 2012. Still, his bat should give fellow prospect Trevor Story plenty of protection in that Nuts' lineup.
No. 9. Mike Foltynewicz (SP Lancaster Jethawks): Making a repeat visit to the South Atlantic League, 2012 was a complete reversal of fortunes for Foltynewicz. The 21-year-old right-hander lowered his ERA by nearly two whole runs while compiling a 14-5 record for the Lexington Legends, tying for the league lead in wins and games started.
No. 10. Cory Spangenberg (2B Lake Elsinore Storm): Repeating at Lake Elsinore after missing six weeks with a concussion last season, Spangenberg doesn't bring much pop to the lineup, with just one homer in 98 games for the Storm in 2012. If he gets the ball in the gap, however, he'll electrify the crowd, as evidenced by his eight triples. The Pennsylvania native also stole 27 bases and managed a .977 fielding percentage at second base.