Which Players Are Ready To Breakout?
We love a good list here at the Dugout Doctors and we wanted to create awareness for some of our new favorite players. Take a look and let us know what you guys think, and we define ‘breakout’ as a player that will see a significant increase in playing time and production.
15. Cameron Maybin We can only hope this is the season the Cam Maybin breaks out, as we have all been waiting for three years. The Marlins 2009 No. 1 prospect will only be 23 on April 4, which means he still has plenty of time to prove himself, but he has already seen plenty of opportunities. He and Andrew Miller were the centerpieces in the Miguel Cabrera/Dontrelle Willis trade, but neither has produced at the big league level, and we think Maybin is much further ahead than Miller at this point in their professional careers.
14. Felipe Paulino HOU/SP – This guy reminds me a lot of Ricky Nolasco. He worked on his mechanics in the off-season to improve his accuracy. Last year, even with his inflated 6.27 ERA and ugly win-loss record, 3-11, his 93 K’s in 97 innings was more than encouraging. Paulino’s average fastball velocity was clocked at 95.4 mph, 2nd in the National League to only Colorado fireballer Ubaldo Jimenez. With the Astros leaning toward him as the No. 5 in the rotation, look for Paulino to be a good pick-up with his opportunity, neutral ground-ball rate and raw ability coming full circle in 2010.
13. Brandon Wood/LAA 3B – A well-known prospect, Wood will finally get his opportunity with the Angels this season. His disgustingly, gaudy minor-league numbers may be inflated by hitter-ballparks, but the 25-year-old has legit 25-homer power without a back-up in sight. If this isn’t the year for Wood, he may never have one.
12. Ricky Romero/TOR SP – This Johan Santana look-alike pitched himself onto the fantasy scene last year. While he isn’t a household name just yet, the former Cal State Fullerton ace is primed and ready to become one in 2010. His numbers won’t overwhelm anyone, but it’s his accuracy and ability to understand the strike zone that makes him vastly different. Before fading somewhat during the 2nd half of his first full major league season, Romero showed signs of being a legit top-25 starting pitcher. If the Blue Jays can offer some run support in 2010, I don’t see any reason why this guy shouldn’t be owned in all leagues.
11. Nolan Reimold/BAL OF – The lone fact that scares me off about this kid is his recently acquired achilles injury. That is one tendon no owner wants to mess with. He played with a 25% tear last season which could be contributing to his slow start this spring. However when healthy, Reimold is a force. All the talk the past few seasons about teammate Nick Markakis should have been aimed at Nolan Reimold. The 5-tool outfielder is a year away from annually being a 20-20 fantasy star. As for this season, don’t overpay with the injury, but don’t sleep on him either.
10. Brian Matusz/BAL SP – The Baltimore system seems to overlook Matusz. With Chris Tillman coming up first and Jake Arrieta taking most of the post-hype as the “next” big call-up, this young lefty somehow slips through the cracks. He actually has 2 change-ups which bodes well for him since he will be living in the AL East. The No. 4 overall pick in the 2008 draft reached the majors in his first pro season after going 11-2 with a 1.87 ERA in the minors. He held his own with a 5-2 record and 4.63 ERA in eight starts for the Orioles at 22 years old. His 159 K’s in 158 professional innings speak to Brian’s deceptiveness.
9. Brett Anderson/OAK SP – The talk of every 2010 Draft room. Mr. Anderson is the trendy pick among people desperate to make a splash in their leagues. The 21-year old southpaw phenom saw an increase of 2 K’s per inning to his K/9 ratio in the 2nd half of last season. Not to mention, his post-break 2.96 ERA, 1.1 WHIP, K/per inning and 3.3 K/BB rate in 17 starts was masterful. This spring, he is lifting weights for the first time in his life and since he entered the big leagues, his fastball has risen from 90 to 95 mph. You better grab this guy early, over-pay if you must.
8. Matt Wieters/BAL C – Wieters didn’t do much to impress owners last season into thinking he is the next Joe Mauer. But, he showed he is pretty good nonetheless. The Orioles prized-prospect is finally ready to take over on Opening Day. The catcher situation is his, along wth the fact he calls a great game for his pitching staff which will aide Dave Trembley if he must make late-game adjustments. Wieters is a powerful-lefty with 25 HR possibility just for 2010. I can’t imagine what his projections will be years from now, scary.
7. Wade Davis/TB SP – If you are looking for a young prospect who has the ability to come straight out of the miners into the majors without a hitch, hear is your pitcher. Davis has thrown for over an astounding 700 minor league innings, so he is more than prepared for his Rookie campaign. His call-up late last season was just a small indication of the dominance he is capable of on a daily basis. The 10 K, complete game shutout win at Baltimore last season was just the start. Joe Maddon recently named Davis the Rays No. 5 and with the Tampa Bay offense, runs support shouldn’t be an issue. Davis is the complete package who has been marinating in the Rays minor league system for far too long. He is beyond well-done and ready to go.
6. Jay Bruce/CIN OF – A few guys on this list seem like we have been hearing about them for years, but Bruce, like many others is looking forward to 2010 for obvious reasons. The .223 batting avg. last season is what scares most owners away. However, it should not. Bruce fractured his wrist, a notorious power-zapping injury, in mid-July. Upon return, he batted 326-4-17 with a 1.078 OPS in his final 18 games of 2009. It was not long ago, Jay Bruce was getting all the “Heyward-hype.” For what it matters, in 2010, I project Jay Bruce having a better season then Jason Heyward. Bruce will also be drafted much later. So, look for him in keeper leagues especially at a great value.
5. Carlos Marmol/CHC RP – Questions always arise when talking about the Cub super-reliever. He has never had a full-time opportunity to close going into a season. Yet, in 2010 with Kevin Gregg in Toronto, Lou Piniella has finally entrusted Marmol with the closer duties. Early on in his career, he drew comparisons to K-Rod. He has been one of the most dominant relief pitchers in baseball the last few years nevertheless. If he eliminates the walks, he will be one the most dominant closers in the game.
4. Billy Butler/KC 1B – The big, strong right-handed hitter from Kansas City seems like he too has been around forever, like Bruce and Davis. But, he is only 23 years old and his talent is what seems endless. With a .336 batting avg. and .977 OPS along with the fact he is an extra-base machine is what makes him stand apart. Butler’s 21 HR and 93 RBI are just a small sample-size of the power he possesses. He has breakout written all over him at a deep 1st base position.
3. Carlos Gonzalez/COL OF – Let’s look at Car-Go’s 2009 stat line – .284-13-29-59-16(SB) in just 278 at-bats. Do you see where my excitement is stemming from? Gonzalez hit a HR once every 21 at-bats, stole a base once every 9.8 appearences and scored a run once every 5 at-bats. Those numbers are second to only top-10 draftee, Matt Kemp. You can get Carlos much later and for much cheaper. It’s all about opportunity. All signs to point to this guy being the Rockies everyday left-fielder and lead-off man.
2. Ricky Nolasco/FLA SP – I spoke of Nolasco comparisons earlier, but now it’s time for the real thing. The Florida Marlin No. 2 starter is being touted by fantasy experts across the country as this years pitcher to watch in the National League, and I agree. Throw out Ricky’s numbers last year before he was demoted to the minor leagues. His 3.82 ERA and 4-1 K/BB ratio upon return suggest Nolasco will be better in the years to come. His 195 K’s in 185 innings indicate he’s just starting to get it. In 2010, he may “get” the NL Cy Young award.
1. Ian Stewart/COL 3B – Two young, Colorado Rockie mashers in the top 4. This is what Mgr. Jim Tracy envisioned when he took over last season, just in time for another impressive Rockie-Run. A huge reason to the run, was the emergence of infield specialist, Ian Stewart. The 24-year-old took over for the declining Garrett Atkins at 3rd base and never looked back. His strikeout rate was once every 3.1 at-bats, but his 25 home runs in 425 at-bats definitely made up for it. With Atkins in Baltimore now, Stewart has the job to himself for what should be about 600 at-bats in 2010. He could be in line for a 35-100 this season.
Just missed: Scott Baker, Jonathan O. Sanchez, Jon Rauch, Rickie Weeks, Kurt Suzuki, Jon Niese, Sean Rodriguez, Johnny Cueto