15 MLB Prospects Who Will Become Stars in 2014
2014 Breakout MLB Prospects
A wave of young talent has swept the MLB over the past couple seasons and those players are now one of the household names in baseball.
It really took off in the 2012 season when the trio of Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado reached the major leagues.
Trout put together a season that veterans dream of in his first full year, hitting .326 with 30 home runs, 83 RBIs and 49 stolen bases. His efforts earned him the AL Rookie of the Year Award, an All-Star Game nomination, a Silver Slugger Award and second place in the AL MVP race. Trout followed that up last season by putting up a .323 average with 27 home runs, 97 RBIs and 33 stolen bases. Again he was an All-Star, won a Silver Slugger and was second in the MVP race.
Rivaling Trout in the NL was Harper. A baseball phenom since an early age, Harper claimed the NL Rookie of the Year and made an All-Star appearance in 2012 after hitting .270 with 22 home runs and 56 RBIs. Last season, Harper put up similar numbers despite missing time due to an injury, hitting .274 with 20 RBI's and 58 RBIs.
Machado was the last of the three to reach the majors, playing just 51 games in 2012, but he quickly became a well known commodity due to his defensive play in the field. Just ask Rich Thompson, who was thrown to at third after Machado executed a brilliant fake throw. Machado followed that season up with a great 2013 season where Machado hit .283 with 14 home runs and 71 RBI's, good enough to make an All-Star game appearance and win a Gold Glove.
Last season a new crop reached the majors. Wil Myers showed why he was one of the top prospects entering the season and won the AL Rookie of the Year, while Jose Fernandez turned out to be a diamond in the rough for the Miami Marlins, going 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA. Fernandez's great numbers helped him win the National League Rookie of the Year, earn an All-Star game invitation, and finish third in the CY Young voting.
Perhaps the biggest story of 2013 was Yasiel Puig. After being called up straight from Double-A, Puig took the MLB by storm with his bat and arm and developed into a superstar.
This season, a number of prospects will try and join these players the majors and put their talents on display.
George Springer is a prospect for the Houston Astros who is set to join the big league club after a tremendous 2013 season. Last year, Springer hit .303 with 37 home runs, 108 RBIs and 45 stolen bases in 135 games between Double-A and Triple-A. He will provide a talented bat and speed on the base paths to an Astros team in need of a boost. Springer is just the tip of the iceberg for the Astros, as their farm system has a ton of young talent that will make it to the majors in the near future.
Erik Johnson will join the Chicago White Sox starting rotation this season and will be one of the keys in the rebuilding effort on the South Side. The White Sox are looking to get younger and Johnson fits that mold. At 23, Johnson is one of the White Sox top prospects. He was 3-2 with a 3.25 ERA in five starts last season. He was also very impressive in the minors, going 12-3 with a 1.96 ERA there last season. Johnson will look to continue those impressive numbers in his first full season in the majors.
Yordano Ventura will battle for a spot in the Kansas City Royals starting rotation and has the stuff to be very successful there. He pitched in three games down the stretch last season, going 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA and the Royals have a lot of confidence in him. His work in the minor leagues has shown a lot of promise and he could develop into a dominant pitcher for the Royals.
With the Baltimore Orioles looking for someone to fill out their starting rotation, Kevin Gausman could be the guy. The pitcher is one of the Orioles top prospects and is looking to prove himself. Gausman's number in the majors were a little shaky last season, going 3-5 with a 5.66 ERA in 20 games with five starts, but Gausman has shown that he has the potential to be great throughout his career. If the Orioles give him a chance to open 2014, watch for Gausman to solidify his position in the majors.
Dylan Bundy is the Baltimore Orioles top prospect, but he missed last season after having Tommy John surgery. Bundy is looking to return in June and when he does, he could be a difference maker for the Orioles. In his first professional season, Bundy went 9-3 with a 2.08 ERA and 119 strikeouts in just over 103 innings in the minors before earning a call-up and pitching in two major league games at the age of 19. The Orioles could really use a dominant pitcher like Bundy in their rotation.
Javier Baez had a breakout year in the minors last year and he will try and translate that to big league success at some point this season. Baez hit .282 with 37 home runs, 111 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in the minors last year and has developed into one of the Chicago Cubs top prospects. Baez will most likely start the season at the Cubs Triple-A affiliate, but Baez will be at big league spring training. Watch for Baez to be in the majors at some point this year and put up some nice numbers.
Taijuan Walker was highly sought after this offseason, but the Seattle Mariners refused to part with their young pitcher and for good reasons. Walker is one of the brightest pitching prospects in baseball. He will join the Mariners starting rotation this season and expect Walker to put up some solid numbers. In three games in the majors last season, Walker was 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA. It's only up from there.
When the New York Mets traded away R.A. Dickey, the key piece they got in return was Travis d'Arnaud. d'Arnaud is one of the best catching prospects in the game and will solidify the position for the Mets this year. In 2012, d'Arnaud showed his potential, hitting .333 with 52 RBIs in Triple-A, but last season injuries limited d'Arnaud. He spent some time in the majors but hit just .202 in 99 at-bats. Fully healthy this season, d'Arnaud should live up to his potential.
The New York Mets are looking for Noah Syndergaard to team with Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler to form a three-headed monster in their starting rotation. Syndergaard has done well in the minors and has huge potential. In 11 Double-A starts last year, Syndergaard was 6-1 with a 3.00 ERA. This comes after posting a 1.83 ERA in 2011 and a 2.60 ERA in 2012. Syndergaard should make it to the majors this year and be ready to form the trio when Harvey returns from injury next season.
Archie Bradley should join the Arizona Diamondbacks starting rotation this year after dominating in the minors. Last season, Bradley was 14-5 with a 1.84 ERA in 26 starts last season. He has proven that he is one of the top pitching prospects and would really improve the Diamondbacks rotation. Arizona has a quality top of the rotation, but the bottom is a little shaky. Bradley could claim one of those positions during Spring Training and make the Diamondbacks team better as a whole.
Oscar Taveras has proven that he is one of the best hitting prospects in baseball and this could be the year that he finally makes an impact for the St. Louis Cardinals. He is a career .320 hitter in the minors and has had some great seasons. Last year, Taveras struggled with injuries that limited him to just 46 games at the Triple-A level. Full healthy this year, Taveras could provide a big boost for the Cardinals' outfield.
Jackie Bradley Jr.
Jackie Bradley Jr. made the Boston Red Sox roster on Opening Day last year after a strong Spring Training. Bradley struggled while there and was demoted about a month into the season. With the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury this offseason, Bradley will be counted on to fill his shoes. Bradley should be up to the challenge this time around after putting together a solid season in Triple-A and showing improvement in his September call-up.
With the trade of David Freese this offseason and the shift of Matt Carpenter to the hot corner, the second base position is open for the St. Louis Cardinals. Insert Kolten Wong. Wong will be key for the Cardinals this season and he should be up for the task. Wong is a career .300 hitter in the minors and hit .303 with 10 home runs and 45 RBIs in Triple-A last year. Also solid defensively, Wong could become one of the next great second basemen.
Nick Castellanos is moving back to his natural third base position for the Detroit Tigers this season and he is poised for a big year. Castellanos is one of the best hitting prospects and should fit in well for the Tigers. He hit .276 in Triple-A last year and .278 in his September call-up. After playing outfield the last couple seasons, the shift back to the infield could do wonders for his game. The Tigers have some big shoes to fill at the plate and look for Castellanos to play a big part in filling them.
Xander Bogaerts came on strong in last season's playoffs and will look to improve on that as the Boston Red Sox's everyday shortstop. Bogaerts hit .500 in the ALCS and added a pair of RBIs in the World Series while splitting tie at third base. After Stephen Drew departs this year, Bogaerts will get a shot to show the baseball world his full potential from day one. Bogaerts is set to have a breakout year in 2014.