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It's easy to forget, but Bryce Harper and Mike Trout weren't stars at this time a year ago—they were prospects. They both began the 2012 season in the minor leagues: The Nationals called up Harper on April 28, the Angels summoned Trout the same day, and each hoisted a Rookie of the Year trophy in November.
Everyone hopes to win an Opening Day job, but—largely because teams want to delay their best young players' eligibility for free agency—the top ROY candidates often arrive after the season starts. This year is no different: The countdown is on for the promotions of four highly touted prospects who turned heads in camp. In three cases (sorry, Pirates) these phenoms could even be keys to a pennant race. Sound familiar, Bryce and Mike?
OF, CARDINALS AGE: 20
BIO: Signed as an amateur free agent from the Dominican Republic at 16; ranked No. 3 on MLB.com's 2013 prospects list
RÉSUMÉ: Hit .321 with 23 homers, a .953 OPS and 10 stolen bases at Double A last year; St. Louis's best hitting prospect since Albert Pujols
COMP: Vladimir Guerrero
SS, RANGERS AGE: 20
BIO: Signed as an amateur free agent from Curaçao at 16; ranked No. 1 on MLB.com's 2013 prospects list