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Prospects have talent, will travel04/02/2013 10:00 AM ET
By Ashley Marshall / Special to MLB.com
For some of the game's top prospects, 2013 represents a fresh start.
Elite players such as Wil Myers and Travis d'Arnaud were packaged in deals with clubs looking to trade future upside for current success, while others -- like Trevor Bauer -- had simply fallen out of favor with the team that first took a chance on them.
Then there was Didi Gregorius, another Top 100 prospect, who was dealt from the Reds to the Indians and then immediately flipped to the D-backs.
Here's a look at some of the prospects in new homes for 2013.
Royals send trio to Rays
One of the earliest offseason deals remains one of most important on the prospect landscape.
On Dec. 9, Tampa Bay acquired outfielder Wil Myers, right-hander Jake Odorizzi, left-hander Mike Montgomery and third baseman Patrick Leonard from Kansas City for pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis.
At the time, Myers was Kansas City's top overall prospect, with Odorizzi ranked third and Montgomery sixth. All three players are now ranked inside the Rays' Top 10 at first, third and eighth respectively.
Some scouts predict Myers' future is in right field. Following the trade, the main roadblock to Myers' ascension seems to be Ben Zobrist, who is set to make around $5.6 million this year and with whom the club has options on for 2014 and 2015.
"This guy is going to be really good," Rays skipper Joe Maddon told MLB.com. "He is good. How much more does he have to accomplish to become a very good Major League player? I'm not sure yet, because I haven't seen enough, but it's easy to say he's going to be a very good Major League player."
As for Odorizzi, he went 11-3 with a 2.93 ERA in 19 PCL outings last year, so his stock could rise in a less offense-heavy league. However, it may be harder for Odorizzi to crack into the Rays rotation. Tampa Bay led the Majors with a 3.19 team ERA, and with David Price, Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore already entrenched at the top of the depth chart, Odorizzi could find himself in a battle with No. 4 prospect Chris Archer for one of the final couple spots currently earmarked for Alex Cobb and Roberto Hernandez.
"I think it's very possible that Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi help us win games in 2013, and Mike Montgomery as well," Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told MLB.com.
"With this trade, we're hoping to replenish our system and add a lot of players we feel can help us sustain this run of success we've had for the last five years."
Just eight days after the Rays-Royals blockbuster, the Mets acquired catcher Travis d'Arnaud and pitcher Noah Syndergaard in a seven-player deal for R.A. Dickey.
No. 6 on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list, d'Arnaud leapfrogged Zack Wheeler as the Mets' top prospect, while Syndergaard moves from being the fifth-best prospect in Toronto to No. 3 in New York.
Backstop d'Arnaud missed the second half of 2012 after suffering a knee injury sliding into second base trying to break up a double play, but he impressed his new employers by hitting .343 in 16 spring appearances before being reassigned to Triple-A Las Vegas on March 24.
Major League service time is as much a factor as preparedness for d'Arnaud, whom the Mets may keep with the 51s to ensure he does not become arbitration eligible a year early.
John Buck and Anthony Recker are going to start the year as the Mets' backstops, although neither is considered a substantial roadblock for d'Arnaud, who may become the team's full-time catcher by the All-Star break.
Win now or win later?
The Blue Jays' deal with the Mets, though, was not their first big move of the offseason.
In November, the team chose experience over youth, sending three of the top seven prospects to Miami in a 10-player deal highlighted by Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson moving north of the border.
The Marlins landed outfielder Jake Marisnick, left-handed pitcher Justin Nicolino and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, who became organizations third-, fourth- and sixth-ranked prospects.
Although drafted a year earlier than his new teammate, Marisnick slots behind Christian Yelich on the Marlins' depth chart for outfield prospects. Yelich has the higher ceiling and a better bat, while Marisnick is considered a little more accomplished in the field. Both prospects have the potential to hit for power and steal bases, but it is unrealistic to expect Marisnick to find his way to Miami until at least 2014, by which time Juan Pierre will be a free agent and Chris Coghlan and Justin Ruggiano will be eligible for arbitration.
Nicolino became the second-best pitching prospect (and top left-hander) in the system behind Jose Fernandez. Ranked fourth in the team and No. 72 on MLB.com's list, Nicolino went 10-4 with a 2.46 ERA in the Midwest League with Class A Lansing last year. The 21-year-old second-round Draft pick, who is still probably 18 months away from being ready for the Majors, will start the season with Class A Advanced Jupiter.
There are no such worries with Hechavarria, who saw 41 games with the Blue Jays in 2012 and looks primed to be the Marlins' Opening Day shortstop.
Tribe lands right-hander in three-team deal
Another traded prospect who saw Major League time last year was Trevor Bauer. The eclectic right-hander fell out of favor in Arizona and was shipped to Cleveland in a move that saw Reds' shortstop Didi Gregorius sent to the Indians and flipped to Arizona.
Bauer became the top pitching prospect in the Tribe's system, second overall to shortstop stud Francisco Lindor. He missed out on the fifth spot in the Indians' Opening Day rotation in Spring Training and he was reassigned to Triple-A Columbus to start the year.
Bauer adjusted his mechanics this winter in a bid to lessen the strain on his legs and throw more strikes. That adjustment, more than his 4.50 ERA in five Cactus League appearances, was the reason Indians manager Terry Francona chose to send Bauer to the International League for more seasoning.
On the other side of this deal is Gregorius, who goes from being somewhat overlooked behind Billy Hamilton in Cincinnati to the top position player in Arizona's system. MLB.com's No. 63 prospect missed two months with a sore elbow, but he hit .423 in 15 spring contests. Cliff Pennington -- acquired in a tree-team deal in October -- and to a lesser extent, Willie Bloomquist are the main hurdles between Gregorius and a full-time job. But many scouts think the sure-handed shortstop is almost ready for regular Major League at-bats.
"I was just at home relaxing when my agent called me and said a trade was going on. I was surprised, but I couldn't control it," Gregorius said. "Then I got a couple calls, from Dusty [Baker] and [Arizona GM] Kevin Towers telling me they appreciated me being on the team.
"For me to get [to Arizona] and work and see how everything is here, that's really great."
Meyer, May on the move
Elsewhere, Washington sent top pitching prospect Alex Meyer to Minnesota for Denard Span just before the Winter Meetings and the Twins, in turn, sent Span's presumptive replacement Ben Revere to the Phillies for their second-ranked prospect Trevor May two weeks later.
Meyer became Minnesota's top pitching prospect (No. 3 overall), with May moving to third in the pitching pecking order (behind Kyle Gibson). The Twins were relatively short on pitching depth at the Minor League level before the deal, with just Gibson and Jose Berrios featured within their top 10.
Having not pitched above the Carolina League, Meyer is far from ready for a role in the Twins rotation. But with a sinking fastball and big-breaking slider, the lanky right-hander projects as a front-line starter in the not-so distant future.