Forget about that ugly spring game when Julio Teheran allowed six homers in two innings against Detroit. The 21-year-old right-hander is one of the majors’ best pitching prospects. He went 15-3 with a 2.55 ERA in 25 games for Triple-A Gwinnett last season.
Tampa Bay stormed into the playoffs last season, boosted by AL Rookie of the Year Jeremy Hellickson. NL winner Craig Kimbrel set a rookie record with 46 saves for Atlanta.
Now the Rays and Braves have two more young pitchers hoping to have a similar impact. Check out these rookies to watch, beginning with two players trying to follow in teammate's footsteps.
• LHP Matt Moore, Tampa Bay: The promising Moore pitched in five major league games last season, but it was enough to convince the small-market Rays to hand him a $14 million, five-year contract in December that also includes three club options that could make it worth about $39.75 million over eight years. Of course, one of those outings was a masterful seven-inning performance in Game 1 of the division series at Texas.
• RHP Julio Teheran, Atlanta: Forget about that ugly spring game when Teheran allowed six homers in two innings against Detroit, the 21-year-old right-hander is one of the majors' best pitching prospects. He went 15-3 with a 2.55 ERA in 25 games for Triple-A Gwinnett last season.
• RHP Yu Darvish, Texas: The Rangers shelled out more than $111 million to bring in Darvish, who had a 93-38 record with a 1.99 ERA over the past seven seasons in Japan. The 6-foot-5 right-hander was a two-time Pacific League MVP and a five-time All-Star. He led the league in strikeouts three times, in ERA twice and won two Gold Gloves.
• OF Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland: The 26-year-old Cuban slugger surprised much of baseball when he agreed to a $36 million, four-year contract with the small-market A's in February. But it looks as if Oakland general manager Billy Beane may have made a wise investment. Cespedes went 1 for 3 with a seventh-inning double in his first major league game on Wednesday night.
• C Jesus Montero, Seattle: The 6-foot-4, 225-pound catcher was promoted in September and batted .328 with four homers and 12 RBIs in 18 games with the Yankees, who traded him to Seattle in January. Longtime Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Montero might be the best player he has ever traded; look for the talented young hitter to remove all doubt, beginning with this breakout season.
• OF Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels: The 20-year-old speedster might begin the year in the minors, since the Angels are loaded in the outfield. But it's going to be hard to keep the multitalented Trout off the major league roster for long. He made his major league debut last year and hit .220 with five homers and 16 RBIs in 40 games.
• C Devin Mesoraco and SS Zack Cozart, Cincinnati: The Reds are hoping to make it back to the playoffs this year while starting a pair of prospects at two pivotal positions. But these aren't just any rookies. Cozart was impressive in an 11-game stint with Cincinnati last season, hitting .324 with two homers before injuring his non-throwing elbow while trying to make a tag. Mesoraco, widely regarded as one of the majors' best catching prospects, hit .180 in 18 major league games in 2011, but had 15 homers and a .289 average at Triple-A Louisville.
• OF Bryce Harper, Washington: The Nationals sent Harper down to Triple-A Syracuse so he can get more experience in center field, a particularly thin position in Washington. He finished last season at Double-A Harrisburg, where he hit .256 with three homers, 12 RBIs and seven stolen bases, and is in line to make his anticipated major league debut at some point in 2012.
• LHP Drew Pomeranz, Colorado: The left-hander was the player to be named in the July 30 trade that sent Ubaldo Jimenez to Cleveland, but he was far from just a throw in. The 23-year-old Pomeranz made his major league debut against Cincinnati on Sept. 11 and threw five scoreless innings.
• RHP Jacob Turner, Detroit: The Tigers' top prospect was hampered by shoulder tendinitis during spring training and will begin the year at Triple-A Toledo. He could be back in Detroit soon and play a key role as the Tigers try to win the AL Central for the second straight year.
• RHP Trevor Bauer, Arizona: Bauer went 38-4 with 460 strikeouts in three seasons at UCLA before Arizona selected him with the third overall pick in last year's draft. The right-hander, listed at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, has been compared to Tim Lincecum and Pedro Martinez. He will open the season with Double-A Mobile, and could make a rapid rise through the Diamondbacks' system.