Last season, I took the time to compile a list of break-out stars, guys that were on the cusp of being huge contributors for their teams. And while I did okay for myself with guys like Paul Goldschmidt, Dayan Viciedo, and Jordan Zimmerman, I missed badly on disappointments like Dustin Ackley, Drew Pomeranz, and J.D. Martinez.
Will that stop me from formulating a group to watch again in 2013? Not at all. In fact, it sort of pushes me to try and correct my wrongs from a season ago.
So without further ado, I present to you the 2013 MLB All Break-out Team.
Salvador Perez – Catcher – Kansas City Royals
The 22-year-old Perez is said to be the next great catcher, and by all right, should have been on this list last year. Unfortunately, he tore the lateral meniscus in his left knee during Spring Training last season and didn’t make his season debut until June 22nd. Still, he recovered nicely and put up a solid season. In just 76 games, the catcher hit .301 with 11 home runs and 39 RBI, posting a 2.8 bWAR in the process. With a full season ahead of him, it wouldn’t be out of the question to assume that we have a catcher capable of 20+ home runs and 70 RBI, both solid numbers from a backstop.
Adam Eaton – Centerfielder – Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks sent two incumbent outfielders packing this winter, but it wasn’t without the knowledge that they have more than enough capable bodies to man those positions. One of those guys will be Adam Eaton, a 24-year-old who enjoyed a 22-game cup-of-coffee in 2012, holding his own with a .259 average, 2 home runs, and a .794 OPS. It is his minor league numbers though that get you really excited, as Eaton had a season for the ages. Splitting time between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno, Eaton hit an astounding .375 with a .978 OPS, and 44 stolen bases. He has an advanced approach at the plate, which screams future batting champion.
Jedd Gyorko – Second Baseman – San Diego Padres
Perhaps one of the lesser known players on this list, Gyorko is nonetheless an impact player at a premium position. Gyorko has yet to make his Major League debut, a fact that San Diego may exploit and hold him back in the minors until May 1st in order to get one more year on his service clock. Still, his numbers in between Double-A and Triple-A last season were enough to give that serious consideration, with the second baseman posting a .311 average, 30 home runs, 100 RBI, and a .921 OPS. Those aren’t numbers you typically see from a second baseman, so the Padres will have to weigh the cost of not having them for a month against an extra season before arbitration eligibility.
Wil Myers – Outfielder – Tampa Bay Rays
Myers is no stranger to this site, or to the minds of astute baseball fans everywhere. The 2012 Minor League Player of the Year earned that title by hitting .314 with 37 home runs and 109 RBI between Double-A and Triple-A for the Kansas City Royals. That lead to him being one of the biggest trade chips of the winter, eventually being included in the deal that netted the Royals both James Shields and Wade Davis from Tampa Bay. However, unlike Gyorko, there are no misconceptions on whether Myers will start the year with the Rays. Tampa like to maximize their service clock with players and they will certainly do so again with Myers. But once he gets the call, watch the mad scramble as guys try to snatch him up for fantasy teams (if they weren’t smart enough to stash him away in the first place).
Trevor Rosenthal – Pitcher – St. Louis Cardinals
Most people are probably sleeping on Rosenthal, but those who remember the right-hander’s performance during the 2012 postseason won’t be. The 22-year-old was a key member of the Cardinal bullpen at the end of the season, posting an 0-2 record, with a 2.78 ERA over 19 appearances with a 9.9 K/9 ratio. However, he dialed that up during the postseason, allowing no runs over 8.2 innings pitched and having a ridiculous 15.6 K/9 ratio in the playoffs. With Chris Carpenter already done for the season and Shelby Miller being shut down in camp, Rosenthal will get a serious look for the rotation. That’ll mean some reduction to his strike-out rates, but the Cardinals have a serious fantasy superstar on their hands if he gets the chance to start.
Manny Machado – Third Baseman – Baltimore Orioles
Very few 19-year-olds (outside of Bryce Harper) have the type of impact that Machado had with the Orioles in 2012. In 51 games, Machado hit a respectable .262 with 7 home runs and 26 RBI and posted a 1.5 bWAR. That’s not too shabby for a guy making the jump from Double-A to the Major League, and making a position change from shortstop to third base at the same time. Machado won’t have to make a jump in 2013, as he’s slated to be the opening day starter for the Orioles, and the sky is the limit for the future All-Star.
Anthony Rizzo – First Baseman – Chicago Cubs
Anthony Rizzo’s name has been on the tip of baseball pundits’ tongues for years and he finally started to break through in 2012, appearing in 87 games with a .285 average 15 home runs and 48 RBI for the Cubs. The reason that he makes the 2013 list is that there is a lot more he can do over the course of a full season. The 23-year-old is the prototypical first baseman and has 35-home run potential written all over him. He still has the ability to be more of a complete hitter, as his approach in the minors has shown much more patience, but that shouldn’t stand in his way of being a fantasy baseball monster.
Marco Estrada – Pitcher – Milwaukee Brewers
You don’t see too many 29-year-old players getting themselves onto lists of break-out stars, but Estrada is the rare exception. Prior to 2012, Estrada was primarily a bullpen fixture for the Brewers and Nationals, but he made the transition to starter partway through 2012 and made it look seamless. Estrada went 5-7 for the season, with a 3.64 ERA and a solid 9.3 K/9 ratio. With a full season worth of starts, Estrada could win you 10-12 games and possibly rack up 200 strike-outs on the year.
Alex Cobb – Pitcher – Tampa Bay Rays
At first, the numbers for the 25-year-old Cobb won’t jump right out at you. His 2012 season saw him post a middling 11-9 record with a 4.03 ERA and a 7.0 K/9 ratio. However, he will be the lynch-pin of the staff, picking up where James Shields left off. He has an advanced ability to keep the ball down, showcasing a 2.05 GO/AO ratio and does a solid job of limiting home runs. With a year of maturity under his belt, Cobb could step forward to being a solid 2 or 3 starter, despite the presence of Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore ahead of him on the depth chart.
Adeiny Hechavarria – Shortstop – Miami Marlins
Hechavarria is one of the smoothest fielding shortstop prospects in the game, but that doesn’t win you many games in fantasy baseball. However, in a brief audition with the Blue Jays in 2012, the 23-year-old did better than expected at the plate, hitting .254 with 2 home runs, and 15 RBI. After being traded to the Marlins in the Jose Reyes , Josh Johnson , Mark Buehrle trade, Hechavarria is going to get the chance to start every day in Miami and could shock some people. He won’t be the next Hanley Ramirez at the plate, but he’ll be a solid bat and he’ll steal you 15-20 bases in the process.
Kyle Fragnoli is a lifetime Red Sox fan and baseball fanatic. When he is not digging out his driveway from countless inches of snow in Vermont, you can find him writing for the Yahoo Contributor Network, The Baseball Big Brother Project , or in his editorial role at Jays Journal .
All Stats – Baseball-Reference.com