Although they were not on Major League rosters at the start of the season last year, Gerrit Cole and Wil Myers made huge impacts for their teams after their June call-ups. Cole won his first four decisions and was one of the team’s best players in their late season playoff push. He even started two playoff games for the Pirates. Myers was also very important for Tampa Bay. He helped power the Rays offense by batting .293 and slugging 13 homeruns. These numbers helped to lead the Rays to a Wild Card spot, too.
This season there are several players who are not going to be starting the year on the big league roster, but should have similar impacts with their teams.
After being selected with the second pick of the 2013 draft, Kris Bryant’s bat has been on fire. He not only batted .336 with nine homeruns in his first 33 minor league games, but he also dominated the Arizona Fall League. During his time in the Fall League, he led the league in many offensive categories including homeruns, and won the league MVP award. With a lack of depth at the big league level, it should not be long until Bryant is hitting each day at Wrigley Field.
Being a 40-40 player at any level is almost impossible, but George Springer’s fantastic minor league season came very close last year. Springer stole 45 bases and hit 37 homeruns through two minor league levels. He has all of the tools to be a fantastic centerfielder, and he can do it all at the plate. If he can limit his strikeouts, he should be playing with the lowly Astros by mid-June.
The Mets have produced some great pitchers over the last few seasons in Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler. Noah Syndergaard appears to be the next great pitching star in New York. Through last season, Syndergaard struck out over a hitter per inning, and had a miniscule 3.06 ERA. His great season even earned him an invite to spring training. He will begin the season in AAA, and like the other top Mets pitchers should make the big league roster before the year ends.
Javier Baez may be the best hitting prospect in all of baseball. He pounded 37 homeruns and drove in 111 runs during last season. This spring while filling in for the injured Starlin Castro, Baez continued to excel. He batted .310 and tattooed five homeruns. It is only a matter of time before he is playing every day in the big leagues.
Former first round draft pick Jameson Taillon appears to be on the same track that fellow teammate Gerrit Cole was on last year. After moving up two levels last year, Taillon was able finish the season in AAA Indianapolis. Though he will miss the start of the AAA season this year, the Pirates rotation is filled with question marks heading into 2014. These questions can be answered with a healthy and effective Taillon.
Last season, in his September call-up Jimmy Nelson impressed. Through 10 innings of work, he allowed only one run and two hits. After moving up two levels and striking out a batter per inning, there is not much left to prove for Nelson in the minor leagues. The only thing that is holding him back is the full starting rotation in Milwaukee. If there is an injury or a spot in the bullpen at some point, Nelson should be more than ready to step in.
Statistics Provided by Baseball Reference