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.
Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox
The most exciting player during the Red Sox run to the World Series last year was the only guy who couldn't grow a beard. Luckily he turned 21 just as the playoffs began, so he was able to legally drink champagne after Boston took the title. Bogaerts only has 18 regular season games on his resume, which is why the quick-handed shortstop's .412 on-base percentage in the pressure-filled playoffs was so astonishing. The Red Sox will need consistency like that this season in order to maintain momentum.
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