Now in his third season, the 22-year-old shortstop is a career .307 hitter (.331 this year) on raw talent alone. He's erratic in the field and on the bases and can be too aggressive at the plate (four walks in his first 147 plate appearances in 2012). But his age and tools point to superstar upside.
Too soon? Not when you consider that Harper, 19, hasn't been overwhelmed in the majors when most of his peers are in A ball. It may be too hard to buy out his free-agent years. Harper could be the first $300 million player if he hits the market on schedule, after the 2017 season, at age 26.
The 22-year-old's bat has never been questioned. (Over his first 316 big league plate appearances Lawrie hit .291 with 12 homers.) The shock is that the former catcher and second baseman is so good at third. Teams want to bet on complete players. Lawrie appears to be one.
Among the game's young hitters, only Harper might have more power than the 22-year-old slugger. It may be hard for the team that drafted him in 2007 to persuade him to sign however, given what little fun he's going to have trying to pull balls out of Miami's pitcher-friendly new park.
Pitchers come with many more risks than position players—and the 23-year-old righthander already has one Tommy John surgery under his belt. But he also has a career 2.25 ERA in 24 starts with an insane 167--29 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He looks as good as he did before his injury.
The model here is Evan Longoria, who signed a six-years-plus-three-team-options extension with the Rays within days of reaching the majors in 2008. Trout, a 20-year-old outfielder, is the Angels' Longoria—a five-tool building block who will contribute in every category.
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH