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MLB 2014: Pitching prospects could have impact

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 26, 2014 at 8:09 pm •  Published: March 26, 2014

Some of the young arms have arrived, and a few more will make it to the majors this summer. Either way, there are a lot of promising pitching prospects poised to impact the playoff races in 2014.

Check out these rookie pitchers, along with a couple up-and-coming position players.

—RHP Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees: The 25-year-old Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year, helping Rakuten to a Japan Series title. It was enough to convince the Yankees to hand over a $155 million, seven-year contract in January, plus another $20 million posting fee to his Japanese club team.

Tanaka looked good in spring training, displaying a terrific split-fingered fastball. He is slotted to make his debut April 4 against Toronto.

—SS Xander Bogaerts, Boston: Bogaerts made his major league debut in August, and then went on to help the Red Sox win the World Series. He hit .296 with two RBIs in 12 postseason games while spending most of his time at third base.

Now Stephen Drew is gone, and the 21-year-old Bogaerts gets to move back to his natural position of shortstop. He also joins a deep Boston lineup, making for ideal conditions for the Aruba native to shine.

—RHP Yordano Ventura, Kansas City: Ventura will begin the season as the Royals' third starter after a dazzling spring training. The 22-year-old righty has one of baseball's best fastballs, consistently 97-99 mph and touching 100 occasionally. He made his major league debut last summer, going 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA in three starts.

—OF Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati: The time is now for Hamilton, who was handed the job in center after Shin-Soo Choo signed a big free-agent deal with Texas. There are concerns about Hamilton's ability to get on base, but his speed makes him one of most exciting players in the game. He had 13 steals in 14 attempts over 13 games last year with the Reds.

—OF George Springer, Houston: The New Britain, Conn., native was sent down to Triple-A Oklahoma City toward the end of spring training, but his major league debut is coming soon. He hit .303 with 37 homers and 108 RBIs over two minor league stops last season.

The Astros traded for center fielder Dexter Fowler over the winter, so Springer will make the transition to right field with the RedHawks. Should be no problem for the athletic Springer, who also had 45 steals last year.

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