There won't be a more anticipated Cactus League game this year than Wednesday's Rangers/Padres tilt, which features Yu Darvish making his MLB debut against the relatively light-hitting Padres.
Expectations surrounding Darvish are very high, and justifiably so. After all, the Rangers shelled out over $100 million dollars between the posting fee and contract in order to bring Darvish to Arlington to replace C.J. Wilson. Wilson, meanwhile, signed for "only" $75 million with the Angels, which means Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels think Darvish will be the better pitcher going forward.
It's quite easy to get excited for Darvish: projection systems vary on how they see his 2012 season going, but the even the most pessimistic (ZiPS) sees the Japanese import as a top of the rotation pitcher for 2012. The most optimistic, Oliver, has Darvish as one of the very best pitchers in the majors.
Then there's the scouting reports: some intentionally leave Darvish off their top 100 lists (Baseball Prospectus, Keith Law), but Baseball America didn't -- and they have Darvish as the fourth best prospect in baseball, behind only Bryce Harper, Matt Moore and Mike Trout. In fact, Baseball America sees Darvish as the top right handed prospect in baseball, calling him a "pre-packaged ace."
However, Wednesday is just a spring training start. If Darvish gets shelled, or walks three in two innings, it's not the end of the world. And if he strikes out five in two innings, let's try not to put him into Cooperstown just yet.
Nevertheless, after months of anticipation, it will be the first chance for Rangers fans to get a look at their 6'5 220 Christmas present.