With baseball season starting up again, it’s time to take a closer look at the potential budding superstars that have a chance to take Major League Baseball by storm in the 2016 season. It appears that this could be the year of the shortstop, as there are more than a few young players who could make the jump to superstardom in the coming (hopefully warm) months ahead. Here is a glimpse at some players who could really make an impact for their teams this season:
Mookie Betts, RF; Boston Red Sox
After a pleasantly surprising performance as a rookie for the Sox in 2015, Betts is expected to be a crucial piece in both the teams’ offense and defense this season. As both an above average hitter and fielder, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mookie hit 25 homers and steal over 30 bases. Betts is also one of the fastest players in the league, so expect him to cover ridiculous amounts of ground in the field. Who knows, there might be a Gold Glove in his near future.
Jackie Bradley Jr, CF; Boston Red Sox
Bradley Jr. is already one of the best center fielders in the game of baseball, and his talents were on display last year. However, early last season there were questions raised about Bradley Jr’s ability to hit the ball. He quickly answered his skeptics after the All-Star break with some consistent hitting while even showing some flashes of power. If JBJ is able to keep up his consistent hitting, he and Mookie Betts could be one of the best outfield combos in the majors.
Fransisco Lindor, SS; Cleveland Indians
When Lindor was called up to the Indians in the middle of the 2015 season, he instantly made an impact and became one of the best players on the team. His ability to seamlessly scoop a ball off the dirt and get it out of his glove is uncanny, and he is already being recognized as one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball. Lindor is mostly a contact hitter, but also can mash it out of the park from time to time. Lindor must become one of the leaders in the Indians clubhouse in order to grow into the player everyone knows he can eventually become.
Carlos Correa, SS; Houston Astros
To give you some background on Carlos Correa, he is already being compared to young superstars like Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. As shown during his brief stint after coming up to the Astros last season, Correa’s ability to both hit for power and be a great defensive player have baseball scouts salivating at the possibilities for his future. Some experts have picked him to be the AL MVP in just his first complete season, which tells you everything you need to know about Correa’s potential. This kid is guaranteed to be a superstar one day, and that day might already be upon us.
George Springer, RF; Houston Astros
Springer is a power hitter who, in limited playing time during his first two seasons, hit 20 and 16 home runs, respectively. He is a big, strong player who has finally come into his own and will see everyday playing time this season. Hitting in a loaded Astros lineup, Springer offers his team rare power batting in the second spot, which could be useful with one of the best hitters in the league, Jose Altuve, coming up after him. His hitting prowess is matched by his ability to play the field, which was on display when he robbed the Rangers’ Leonys Martin of a game-wining grand slam in extra innings last year.
Kole Calhoun, RF; Los Angeles Angels
Calhoun could definitely be considered my sleeper pick on this list. He is older than most players on here (28), but unlike anybody else, he has already had a solid couple of seasons under his belt with the Angels. An above average hitting right fielder, Calhoun has all the tools to help Mike Trout carry the load for the Angels. Los Angeles will need Calhoun to have a big year if they want to stay in contention for a playoff spot, so expect him to step it up and have a big year.
Luis Severino, P New York Yankees
After a few brilliant outings in the 2015 season, Severino has shown that he has what it takes to become the Yankees ace this year. He has three dominant pitches in his arsenal (Four-seam fastball, Slider, Changeup), and he mixes them up masterfully to confuse hitters. With an explosive arm, Severino reminds me a bit of a young Pedro Martinez, although I acknowledge it will be a long time before we might be able to realistically compare the two. I personally wouldn’t be surprised to see Severino have an ERA under 3.00 and become the #1 option for the Yankees.
Rougned Odor, 2B; Texas Rangers
Having just turned 22, Odor is still one of the youngest players in the league. He also might have the most raw potential in the whole MLB, especially for second baseman. It is rare that you find a second baseman who can hit the ball as hard and far as Odor can, which he showed in the second half of his rookie campaign. Odor is also above average defensively, and has a strong arm to boot. If Odor can pick up where he left off at the end of 2015, he will take his place as one of the better second basemen in the AL.
Marcus Stroman, P; Toronto Blue Jays
After an extremely strong 2014 rookie season, people were looking for Stroman to become the ace of the Blue Jays’ staff the following year. Unfortunately, an injury allowed him only four starts in the 2015 season, in which he was still as dominant as ever. He only allowed 5 runs in 27 innings pitched, yielding a 1.67 ERA over those four starts. Hopefully this is a taste of whats to come for Stroman, who really does have the potential to be one of the best pitchers in the league this year.
Addison Russell, SS; Chicago Cubs
There has been a strong buzz around Russell ever since he was listed as one of the top prospects in baseball a couple years ago. After finally coming up and playing his first season with the Cubs last year, there are huge expectations for Russell going into the 2016 season. Russell had a strong Spring Training that included a big change in his swing, and is hopefully ready to match his stellar defensive play with the hitting power that he teased early on. At 22, Russell has the potential to have a breakout year, just as his young teammates Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber did last season.
Corey Seager, SS; Los Angeles Dodgers
The youngest player on this list at only 21 years old, Seager is listed as the top prospect in all of baseball. He tore through AA and AAA leagues last season before being brought up for the Dodgers playoff run, where he continued to rake. With all the hitting potential he has shown in the past year, the pressure is on for Seager to continue his offensive tear and be a big contributor to the Dodgers offense. Seager should compete for NL Rookie of the Year this season, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him take home the hardware.
Christian Yelich, LF; Miami Marlins
Yelich was rushed up to the Marlins late in the 2013 season when he was just 21 years old, and since then has given them two solid seasons in the outfield. Last season Yelich hit for a .300 average, and locked up a contract to stay with the team until the 2021 season. A left-handed hitter, Yelich has the ability to spray the ball to every part of the field and is a very good contact hitter. Hopefully a permanent move to left field this season will help bolster his defensive numbers, and allow Yelich to round into his full potential. If Yelich is going to pick a year to really turn some heads, this season would be the time to do it.
Steven Matz, P; New York Mets
Matz broke on to the scene for the Mets in the 2015 playoffs, where he pitched exceedingly well for his squad. His career was in some doubt after he had Tommy John surgery a couple seasons ago, but he showed his potential in limited action last season, posting a 2.27 ERA in his starts. This season Matz can solidify his role and become another key piece in the Mets rotation, which looks like it might be the cream of the crop of all the rotations in baseball.
Gregory Polanco, RF; Pittsburgh Pirates
Another lefty on this list, Polanco was brilliant in his first full season with the Pirates, racking up 152 hits and stealing 27 bases in his 2015 campaign. This season he permanently joins one of the best outfields in the league, and will now play everyday with counterparts Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte. There are high expectations for Polanco going into the 2016 season, but to meet these expectations he must cut down on his strikeouts (121 last season) and try to put the ball in play more. With a good season Polanco can make the Pirates one of the best hitting teams in the National League.
Maikel Franco, 3B; Philadelphia Phillies
In only half a season in 2015, Franco broke onto the scene as a rookie with 14 homers, 22 doubles, and knocked in 50 runs. Although the Phillies are one of the worst teams in baseball, Franco has a real opportunity to stand out and lead his team in hitting. In addition to the power he has already displayed, Franco also has a power arm and has proved himself to already be a good defensive third baseman. It would not shock me to see Franco reach 30 home runs this season.