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.
Nick Castellanos, Tigers
When a team trades a guy like Prince Fielder – the son of a franchise hero and an intimidating lineup presence – to make room for you, you better pay that off. That's the challenge facing 22-year-old Castellanos, who comes into Tigers big-league camp this season as the everyday third baseman. Last year, he was relegated to minor league camp halfway through March, so keep an eye on his numbers from March 15 onward, when he starts facing major league pitchers.
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