With spring training around the corner, I wanted to take a look at a couple of young players for each team that I think will have a larger impact in 2016. We’ll start with the American League and move to the National at the end of the week.
Manny Machado, 3B – How does a guy who collected 102 runs, 181 hits, 30 doubles, 35 homers, and 86 RBI make more of an impact? Simple, the kid is currently just 23 and I think he’ll continue having better plate discipline where he can build on his career .281 batting average (.286 in 2016). This is based on a jump in walk ratio as he went from a career high 5.7% in 2014 to 9.3% in 2015. Some sites are predicting a large drop in power, however again, I think because of age, he’s just developing his gap power as there was a huge boost to in his career percentage (9%) of extra base hits in 2016 (9.3%), yet the home runs jumped from a career high of 14 in 2013 to 35 last season.
Dylan Bundy, RHP – Bundy, once a top Major League prospect, was drafted with the 4th pick in 2011 and made his debut late in 2012 season as 19-year old. Than the injury bug hit, Bundy missed the entire 2013 season after having Tommy John, made his was back slowly in the Minors in the second half of 2014, but again was shut down in 2015 with calcification in the back of his shoulder area. All reports point to a healthy Dylan Bundy ready to open at camp and with him being out of options, he’ll likely break camp with the big club. When he does pitch, he’s a strike out an inning type pitcher, with solid control and good movement on pitches, making him tough to hit. A healthy Dylan Bundy could do wonders in Baltimore…
Boston Red Sox
Mookie Betts, OF – We’re witnessing the growth of what I think is a superstar in the 5-tool Mookie Betts. An infielder when drafted and through his first three Minor League seasons, Betts seamlessly made the transition to the outfield in the Minors in 2014 and advanced to the Majors in the same season. Betts, last season hit .291 with 18 homers, 42 doubles, and 21 steals in 145 games. At 23, the expectation is for that power to continue to develop and for some of those doubles to turn in to home runs.
Xander Bogaerts, SS – I believe we’ve seen the ceiling for Bogarts as far as average goes (.320 in 2016) as his batting average on balls in play (BAbip) was an incredibly high .372 (.402 at home), however I do believe that Xander has more to offer in the extra base category and will build on the 45 that he collected in 2015. Like Betts, Xander is just 23 and still developing physically as an athlete.
New York Yankees
Luis Severino, RHP – Severino was called up last season at the age of 21, when a June injury left the Yankees shorthanded in the rotation. Severino joined the rotation and never left as he posted a 5-3 record with a 2.89 ERA and 1.203 WHIP in 11 starts. All signs point to a full season of Luis in 2016 and more of the same
Aaron Judge, OF – This spot was meant for Greg Bird until he went down with a shoulder injury and had surgery. With the bridle Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury, it’s sure that an outfielder is going to miss some time and although Mason Williams or Slade Heathcott (or Dustin Ackley) may fill in, none have the impact bat that Judge possesses. The 1st round selection of the Yankees in 2013 is high on many prospect lists in 2016, albeit with only a 124 games at Double-A or higher so far. My guess is he starts out back in Triple-A until where he hit just .224 in part last year, but once injury strikes, the big 6’8” righty will unleash his power potential (and strike out potential) at Yankee Stadium.
Tampa Bay Rays
Corey Dickerson, OF – In what I think is slightly an odd trade from Colorado under team control for four more years, we have to expect more out of Dickerson in 2016 after an injury laded season in 2015, where his just played in 65 games. When healthy, Dickerson hit .304 with 10 homers, 18 doubles, and a .869 OPS. I have to imagine the shift to Tampa probably hurts Corey offensively, but without a doubt a healthy season will offer more of an impact than he had in 2015.
Jake Odorizzi, RHP – If all starters are healthy, thank I go with Jake Odorizzi here, if not, it has to be Blake Snell. Let’s stick to Odorizzi for now though as he progressed very nicely in his 2nd full season as a starter in the bigs, with a 9-9 record and 3.35 ERA, 1.224 WHIP, and 8.4 K/9 ratio. Home runs are a bit of an issue as they accounted for 26 of his 63 earned runs, the good news however is that 11 were solo shots so he was limiting damage and most likely challenging hitters. We may not see another big stride with Odorizzi, but I believe it’s safe to say what we saw last year is a good example of what this year will hold.
Toronto Blue Jays
Marcus Stroman, RHP – Stroman’s 2015 season seemed over before it got started when he announced on Twitter during Spring Training that he tore his ACL in his left knee and would need surgery. Surprisingly, it was announced that Stroman would in fact start a rehab assignment in late August and actually made his first start for Toronto on September 12th. Stroman went on to make 3 more starts in the regular season and pitched game 2 of the ALDS where he was masterful in a no-decision loss to Texas. For the regular season, Stroman was 4-0 in four starts, with a 1.67 ERA, 0.963 WHIP, and 6 strike out per 9 ratio.
Devon Travis, 2B – This could have really been Roberto Osuna or Aaron Sanchez, but the start that Travis got off to last season, hitting .356 through the first 20 games, give a lot Blue Jays fans hope. The Blue Jays player of the month for April and May, eventually succumb to a shoulder injury in late May and wasn’t the same when he returned in June and eventually was shut down in September. Travis eventually had shoulder surgery and is expected to be fine for Spring Training. Still fans should be excited, as Devon hit .304 with 8 homers and 35 RBI in 62 games as a rookie.