After undergoing Tommy John surgery in May of 2012, San Diego Padres pitcher Corey Luebke was forced to miss the entire 2013 season. Now, after experiencing a setback while rehabbing, the 28-year-old will be forced to miss the entire 2014 campaign. It’s an extremely unfortunate series of events for the former Ohio State standout, as he figured to have considerable upside pitching a full season in the pitcher-friendly confines of Petco Park.
Luebke inked a four-year, $12 million deal in 2012 that included team options for 2016 and 2017. The left-hander initially suffered the setback in September and was shut down temporarily before returning to the mound a few months later. An MRI confirmed that Luebke had re-torn his ulnar collateral ligament, confirming the need for Luebke to undergo his second Tommy John surgery in the last two years.
1. Miguel Sano – 3B, Minnesota Twins (featured right)
Not to be confused with Miguel Cabrera, at least just yet, Miguel Sano is an absolute masher. The raw 20 year-old Dominican jacked 35 HRs between Single-A and Double-A last year within the Twins organization. One of the purest sluggers as far as prospects are concerned, Sano will be a reliable power-source comparable to Giancarlo Stanton, once he arrives in Minnesota.
2. Oscar Taveras – OF, St. Louis Cardinals
While an August ankle surgery stalled his ascent to the bigs in 2013, Oscar Taveras possesses superstar potential for the Cardinals. In a full season at Double-A Springfield in 2012, Taveras slashed an impressive .321/23/94 line. While the recent acquisition of Peter Bourjos from the Angels may potentially halt Taveras’ fast-track to MLB, he’s the more likely successor to the departed Carlos Beltran, in St. Louis.
3. Kevin Gausman – SP, Baltimore Orioles
A former 4th overall pick in the 2012 draft, this former LSU Tiger has a bright future in Baltimore. A pure power pitcher, Gausman got his first taste of big-league action last year to the tune 49 strikeouts in 47.2 innings. Of course with the gaudy strikeout ratio comes a learning curve, as the 22-year-old flamethrower posted a 3-5 record accompanied by a 5.66 ERA. Look for Gausman to seize control over a spot in the Orioles wide-open pitching staff, in 2014.
4. Byron Buxton – OF, Minnesota Twins (featured right)
One of my personal favorites in terms of high-ceilings for 2014, Byron Buxton is a 5-tool stud who should stick as a stalwart in the Twins lineup for years to come. Buxton swiped 55 bags in time split between High and Single-A last year, while posting an absurd .424 on-base-percentage. If this kid keeps balling once he cracks the Twins lineup, you could be looking at numbers similar to Carl Crawford from his prime.
5. Kole Calhoun – OF, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
With the departure of Peter Bourjos in the Angels OF, a corner outfielder-job is Calhoun’s to lose moving forward. With Mike “Ehrman” Trout entrenched in CF, the Angels have a desperate void on the corner-outfield slots on the heels of Josh Hamilton’s abysmal 2013. The productive 26-year-old looks to build off a solid 2013 while he is widely expected to be the Halos everyday Right Fielder for this upcoming season.
After undergoing season-ending knee surgery during the 08-09 season with the Houston Rockets, Tracy McGrady’s career never recovered. The McGrady that NBA fans can most identify with is one who filled up the basket night-in and night-out, abusing NBA defenses who tried to contain him. But after the 2009 knee surgery, McGrady’s career hit a tail-spin, failing to post double digits in scoring in a season for the remainder of his career. It was a screeching halt to a potent run for McGrady, who even ended up playing a year with the Qingdao Eagles of the Chinese Basketball Association during the 2012-2013 season.
After officially retiring from the NBA in August of 2013, McGrady has been mostly irrelevant except for appearances at Jay-Z concerts in Houston and for his questionable suit choices. So while the McGrady we once knew has come and gone, he may be resurrected to relevance through another career opportunity: Professional baseball. That’s right, reports indicate that T-Mac has been working out as a pitcher, effectively hitting 90 + mph on radar guns. It has even been stated that he has been doing work on the mound with none other than Roger Clemens.
While it’s difficult to predict if McGrady’s baseball career will gain any traction, it’s a clear advantage to potentially be fast-tracked by having a prominent name and being a superstar from another sport. The 34-year-0ld might not latch on with a Major League roster anytime soon, but combine 90 + mph fastballs with being Tracy McGrady and he could easily land in an independent baseball league at some point this winter.