With a solid spring, these five prospects could be in lineups on Opening Day
VICTOR MARTINEZ, C, INDIANS
In 454 career minor league games, the switch-hitting Martinez, 24, has more walks (210) than strikeouts (189). He was the MVP in the Class A Carolina League (2001) and Double A Eastern League ('02), prompting Cleveland G.M. Mark Shapiro to say, "We feel he's going to be an All-Star." If Martinez refines his mechanics behind the plate in spring training, he could be Cleveland's Opening Day backstop.
MARK TEIXEIRA, 3B, RANGERS
Teixeira, 22, is regarded as the best hitting prospect in baseball: a big (6'3", 220 pounds) switch-hitter with premium power, impressive plate discipline and the ability to make consistent contact His emergence has forced Hank Blalock, another well-regarded 22-year-old third base prospect for the Rangers, to take ground balls at second base this spring. ( Teixeira will also try his hand at first base.)
JESSE FOPPERT, RHP, GIANTS
Only 20 months after being drafted in the second round out of the University of San Francisco, this 22-year-old with a mid-90s fastball is competing for a spot in the Giants' rotation. Foppert blew through three minor league levels over the past two years, finishing 2002 in Triple A, where he had 14 starts and fanned 109 batters in 79 innings. His stuff may be good enough to overcome his lack of experience.
JOSE REYES, SS, METS
Even though he's only 19, Reyes might be the Mets' shortstop on Opening Day; otherwise he'll start the year at Triple A The young Dominican is a slashing switch-hitter with speed (the Mets think he has 20-home-run potential) and major-league-ready defensive skills—an impact player waiting to happen. The only question is when.
LYLE OVERBAY, 1B, DIAMONDBACKS
When Arizona traded power-hitting first baseman Erubiel Durazo to the A's in December, slashing payroll wasn't the only thing it had in mind: Overbay, 26, has developed into a prized prospect. While Durazo may blast more home runs, the lefthanded Overbay (who hit 19 in the best of his four minor league seasons) is a hitting machine with gap power who hasn't batted less than .332 as a pro.