by Matt Whitener
The American League East is poised to be, unsurprisingly, the most competitive division in baseball again this summer. Each team is as veteran-laden as any in the game, and is the only division that is completely in a “win-now” mode from top to bottom. However, it is a division that features some of the most exciting prospects in the game, and those youngsters will push to make their presence felt in the midst of the full-season pennant race in the East. Here are the best of the best for each club, and a few safe bets to make an impact of some sort this summer:
Dylan Bundy, SP: It’s no big shock that baseball’s best prospect arm finds his way here, because he’s probably already be the best pitcher the O’s have. However, when he breaks into the rotation is more of a matter of schematics than talent. Baltimore is deep with MLB-ready arms; so many that they can’t find a home for them on the staff as is this summer. But room will be made when Bundy is ready, because 20-year-old's that plow through three levels of the minors and make it to the majors in their first professional year don’t tend to be forced to wait longer than necessary.
Boston Red Sox
Rubby De La Rosa, RP/SP: A chip-in piece as part of the Dodgers/Red Sox blockbuster last year is showing that he could truly be a find in the long run. De La Rosa missed much of last season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, but has shown potential this spring. A starter with the Dodgers in 2011, he has been featured out of the bullpen this spring and has featured a mid-90’s fastball with a save in six appearances. With Andrew Bailey potential trade bait, De La Rosa could have a chance to make a late-inning impact.
New York Yankees
Melky Mesa, OF: In the midst of heavy injury turnover, the young outfielder has seen plenty of action this spring and is showing the chops to stick. For a Yankee team that could be auditioning potential replacements in center field for pending free agent Curtis Granderson, Mesa could prove to be a revelation. He has three seasons of hitting at least 19 home runs in his minor league career, and has averaged 22 steals a season as well. He could have a chance to be a very valuable fourth outfield option for the upcoming year.
Tampa Bay Rays
Wil Myers, OF: The Rays traded one of their All-Star co-aces in James Shields to get Myers in the fold, so this is more his position to hold than to take. He hit 37 home runs and drove in 108 runs in a 2012 split between Double and Triple-A, and is a consensus top five prospect in the game. For the time being, Ben Zobrist is penciled into the right field spot in Tampa, but that has more to do with stalling for service time/arbitration years for Myers than readiness. Once he is promoted, most likely in June, he’ll be the everyday right fielder, with Zobrist moving back to the infield.
Toronto Blue Jays
Anthony Gose, OF: The Jays' newfound everyday depth could make Gose’s ascension to the Majors a slower process than imagined, but that would be the only thing that’s leisurely about the 22 year old. Gose has stolen 228 bases in his four full minor league seasons, and had his best season at the plate in 2012 with a .785 OPS in Triple-A. That has carried over into the spring, where he’s hit .375 through his first 29 at-bats. Rajai Davis could become very expendable as the team’s fourth outfielder with the younger, and increasingly proven, Gose on his heels…and Colby Rasmus should pay attention as well.
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