March 27th, 2015
Every year I try to share a list of guys I really like for the coming season. I hope to include guys that haven’t quite become stars-maybe guys with one or two years in the big leagues. In the past I’ve included Christian Yelich, Sal Perez, Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Anthony Rendon, Wilin Rosario, Michael Wacha, and others because i really believed in their upside after watching them in either the Arizona Fall League or Spring Training. This year I’m including a few guys with more service time, but still under the radar a bit. Oh, and I’ve missed, too. For example, I was really high on Nate Schierholtz and he never really busted out. He’s a fine player, but not the impact guy I projected.
Here they are. In no particular order.
Kris Davis-Milwaukee Brewers. Yes, I mentioned him last year and he came through for me and for you. And for the Brewers. But he’s still way too far under the radar. This guy has power and an ability to drive in runs. I look for an increase in his batting average, even more home runs and more RBIs.
Carlos Carrasco-Cleveland Indians. No, I don’t think he’ll have a Corey Kluber break out. But he’s watched how Kluber does it. His time in the pen taught him how to throw strikes and not try to throw 100 mph every pitch. I think there will be more ups than downs and a fine season for Carrasco.
Jorge Soler-Chicago Cubs. While all the attention has gone to Kris Bryant (with good reason) Soler is the guy I think may be the talk of the town at some point. He has tremendous power and is a very good athlete. He’s still under the radar but I love to watch him hit. Look for a true breakout this year.
Carlos Rodon-Chicago White Sox. No surprise here. When I watch him pitch I marvel at his command and poise for his age. Some say he reminds them of Steve Carlton. He may not break with the club, but he’ll be pitching in Chicago and pitching well. This year. By the way-he isn’t even on the 40-man roster yet.
Devin Mesoraco-Cincinnati Reds- A repeater on my list from last year. But he still doesn’t get the love. His swing is perfect for his home park. Power and good contact make this guy an All Star candidate. He only had 384 at-bats last year for the parent club. He’s ready to bust out.
D J LeMahieu-Colorado Rockies-He’s the guy on the club nobody talks about. I like everything he does. His numbers in all categories should increase this year with the confidence of being “the” guy at second base.
Kole Calhoun-Los Angeles Angels- Right field should belong to him. He can smoke line drives and when he gets in a groove he makes things happen. I like everything about his offense and I think there is more power to come beyond 17 homers last year.
Will Middlebrooks-San Diego Padres. I never thought I’d write that I think Middlebrooks could become a consistent offensive force. After seeing him in Spring Training, I believe. I also think the third base job is his to keep in San Diego with a good lineup around him. Hope I’m right.
Taijuan Walker-Seattle Mariners. He has had the spring the club has been waiting for. He’s throwing strikes, getting ahead of hitters and using a complete repertoire. He now has confidence-the most important ingredient for success.
Ryan Rua-Texas Rangers- I think he has a chance to at least platoon in left field for Texas. They guy can hit with some power and drive in runs. It’s a great ball park for him and he can make a difference for the club hitting from the right side of the plate.
Mookie Betts-Red Sox. What an athlete. If he doesn’t win a starting job in Boston something is woefully wrong. Line drives, power, good speed, the total package from a guy still under the radar. Outstanding upside.
J D Martinez-Detroit Tigers-The one (of many in my opinion) that got away from the Astros. Big time power in a great lineup. More experience. Some tweaks in his approach and he’s off and running. Love it.
Eddie Rosario-Minnesota Twins- I don’t know if the Twins will give him a chance this year. But if they do, he won’t disappoint. Outstanding line drive hitter with great balance and eye-hand coordination at the plate. Can play LF well.
Alex Colome-Tampa Bay Rays-Once he’s healthy and back in pitching shape after beginning the season in the Minor Leagues, I believe Colome will find his way to Tampa. He’s got very good stuff and can get hitters out. Just a matter of when during the season. I also like his teammate Nate Karns.
Of course there are other young guys I like, but those above seem a bit more special to me. Will they all succeed? Probably not. But as a scout, I see things in each of them that speak to upside and impact.
Thanks for reading my work at MLBPipeline.com and for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff.
We’re only a week away from playing games that count. Stick with me during the season and we’ll talk some ball.
That’s it. I’m out.