If the popularity of Moneyball, which questioned the efficacy of old-fashioned scouting and trumpeted the arrival of the sabermetric era, wasn't statistically undeniable, you'd be tempted to conclude that no one paid the moral of that story much mind. The stands of every major club's spring training stadium are packed with would-be experts analyzing the swings and throws of the up-and-coming players. Fans are eager to spot talent and even more eager to spot talent first – to have that strangest of claims to a player's career: "I said he was going to be good."
Scouting is like watching the future so long as you're looking at the right guys. Whether you're making the trip to Arizona or Florida for Spring Training over the next five weeks, or just binging on games shown by MLB Network, here are the boys of spring to watch. These potential franchise players are coming into their own and their success or failure will shape the playoff landscape for at least the next five years.
Lucas Giolito, Nationals
Giolito had the stuff to be a top-5 pick in the 2012 draft, but arm troubles scared off plenty of teams before the Nats took a chance on him with their 16th pick and signed him to a near-$3 million deal. Tommy John surgery cost him most of 2013, so he's only pitched in just 11 games. Still, they were 11 very impressive games. The righty may have the best stuff in the minors, but he won't be making the show for a few seasons. Take a look at his near-100 mph fastball while you can.
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