8 Young MLB Stars to Watch This Season
Two-thousand-and-eighteen’s Spring Training is in full swing (*wink*) and MLB fanbases have a lot to be excited about, especially when it comes to the youngsters. Stars and prospects alike are looking to make splashes in the league this year, especially after what was a historic 2017 season from an offensive standpoint. Today, we’re going to take a look at a few of MLB’s brightest young stars who are poised for powerhouse seasons both at the plate and in the field (or on the mound). Let’s get started.
NOTE: The stipulation is that these are all players with MLB game experience. We’ll save the prospects for another time.
Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros
It’s only right to start with a couple of defending World Series champions from the Houston Astros. Shortstop Carlos Correa, at age 23, was a wonderfully consistent hitter a year ago and also a heavy contributor to the Astros’ infield. Correa finished the year with a .315 batting average, 24 home runs, and 84 RBIs. He should improve on those numbers so don’t be surprised if he breaks 30 homers and 100 RBIs.
Alex Bregman, 3B, Houston Astros
Another key member of the Astros, the 23-year-old third baseman still looks like a player with just one full MLB season under his belt. The inexperience showed in the postseason, where he batted just .208. However, for the 2017 season, Bregman batted .284 with 19 homers and 71 RBIs. He should easily hit 20 dingers and bat in 80 to 85 runs. If he increases his offensive output the way we predict, he’ll give an already dangerous Houston team a solid shot at another postseason run.
Andrew Benintendi, LF, Boston Red Sox
Going into his second full MLB season, the Red Sox leftfielder has given Boston fans a lot to be excited about. His wonderful 2017 season helped the team finish first in the AL East with a 93-69 record. His personal numbers were impressive, as he finished the year with 20 homers and 90 RBIs, while also recording 20 stolen bases, second on the team only behind fellow outfielder Mookie Betts. Expanding on those stats and achieving 30-100-25, respectively, isn’t at all farfetched for the 23-year-old.
Aaron Nola, SP, Philadelphia Phillies
Projected as a top-10 pitcher this year, Nola should be a key part of the Phillies starting rotation. A year ago, he finished with a 12-11 record in 27 starts. In 168 innings, he had a 3.54 ERA and 184 strikeouts. We’ll see what the Phillies do to give him offensive support, but Nola should end 2018 as one of the league’s best. His ERA should go down and his strikeouts, thanks to his absurd curveball and four-seam fastball, should go up.
Byron Buxton, CF, Minnesota Twins
My former roommate, and Minnesota native, used to rave about “Buck” even before the Twins gave him a true shot in the majors. He knew what this kid had before most did and the centerfielder should prove my pal right in 2018. Sure, he had a shaky 2017 season at the plate, batting just .253 with 16 homers and 51 RBIs. However, he showed flashes of brilliance (29 stolen bases) on offensive and received a well-earned Gold Glove thanks to his play in the field. His defense should hold true and his offense should see a big improvement.
Cody Bellinger, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers
This kid blew people away in his rookie season. At just 22 years old, the first baseman/leftfielder has already shown prowess both offensively and defensively. In 2017, he finished a single homer shy of 40 and was just three RBIs away from 100. With a .267 batting average and 128 hits, he gave the Dodgers instant offense during his 132 games last year. If he can even slightly improve his batting average, he should easily break 40 and 100 in 2018.
Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
The Puerto Rican native was fantastic for Cleveland last season. In the infield, he was extremely successful, turning 111 double plays and committing just 10 errors. At the plate, Lindor finished the year with a .273 batting average and had 33 homeruns along with 89 RBIs. With another year of experience under his belt, Francisco should have no trouble breaking 100 RBIs this season and don’t be surprised if fielding gets even better.
Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins
Another of my former roommate’s correct assessments from a few years ago, the Twins’ third baseman and DH saw a lot of success in 2017, despite a nagging leg injury that kept him out of nearly six weeks of the season. After undergoing a successful surgery back in November of last year, Sano looks ready to go and has performed well in spring training. A year ago, he finished the season with a .264 batting average, 28 homeruns, and 77 RBIs in 114 games. If he can stay healthy in 2018, a 40-100 stat line is certainly attainable.
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