Names to Know for the Upcoming MLB Season
Plenty of impact pitching
The young pitchers that Major League Baseball farm systems have consistently developed recently, have not disappointed. For 2015, things are not expected to be any different from the recent trends with another crop of strong pitching expected to debut. The teams with a strong recent track record of developing players, are once again in position to have an impact pitcher make their debut for them. The Cardinals, Pirates, Rays, Mets and Orioles are once again in position to have their farm system turn out a top of the rotation starter. However, the Phillies, Diamondbacks and Twins are also in position to do the same this season. With some surprise teams involved in developing quality pitching prospects, there may also be some surprises among the impact hitters from this rookie class. Like last season, an MLB impact rookie is likely emerge from the veteran professional baseball players from Cuba and Asia. A look at some the strongest candidates to make an impact among this rookie class, will help to present a clearer picture of what names baseball fans should know for the upcoming season.
Rookie starting pitchers
Archie Bradley is a pitcher who is likely to be a midseason call up for the Diamondbacks this season, and he fits the mold of the flame throwing young aces to arrive before him in recent years. Bradley is likely to be an impact player in his first year because of the talent he possesses. This may not be enough to help the Diamondbacks compete in 2015 however. Bradley's strong three pitch repertoire of a fastball, curveball and changeup should lead him to the top of the 2015 rookie class in production.
Gonzales made his debut last season with the Cardinals, but with only five starts made in 10 appearances, he was able to maintain his rookie status for 2015 with 34 and two thirds innings pitched. As the immediate depth option for the Cardinals pitching staff made up of all right handed starters, lefty Marco Gonzales could be a midseason call up from triple-A. Gonzales brings an above average fastball from the left side, that he complements with above average offerings in both his changeup and curveball. With some of the Cardinals starting five having a significant injury history, its very likely that Gonzales will get the opportunity to show his abilities as a rookie in 2015.
Syndergaard spent all of last season at the triple-A level, in which he produced his first down season in professional baseball. He will once again start 2015 at the triple-A level where this young flame thrower will be a midseason call up for the Mets. Syndergaard's talent commands a rotation spot for him at the big league level with the Mets as soon as he is ready. He works a great curveball off his plus fastball as his out pitch, and he also has a changeup and slider to show to opposing hitters. The 22 year old has an ace's frame, standing at six feet, six inches tall and weighing 240 pounds.
Bundy made his big league debut out of the Orioles bullpen in September of 2012, but injuries have slowed his progress since then. Armed with a big fastball, this young right handed pitcher is now healthy and ready to make a midseason debut. Bundy has shown an advanced ability to move quickly in the minors because of his deep repertoire when healthy. He will start the season at triple-A, but this 22 year old pitcher is in position to make an impact in the Orioles rotation from day one. Once the super two service time is aligned favorably for Baltimore, look for Bundy to get the call as the Orioles will look to bolster an already strong starting rotation.
In 2014 and 2015, most would have expected the impact pitcher named on this list from the Pirates system, to be Jameson Taillon. Another member of the Pirates 2010 draft class takes that spot in this list after Taillon's elbow surgery early last season kept him out for all of 2014. Kingham at six feet, five inches tall shares some similarities with both Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole. His strong showing the past two seasons in the upper levels of the Pirates farm system, have him in position to make a midseason debut at 23 years old in 2015. An above average fastball combined with an above average curveball and changeup should allow Kingham the opportunity to make an impact as a rookie.
After reaching the double-A level in his first season in pro baseball, Aaron Nola could be in position to make a midseason debut for the Phillies as a 22 year old in 2015. Selected as a college starting pitcher in the 2014 draft, this right handed pitcher has been able to make significant strides early as a pitcher who features four average to above average offerings. As a polished strike thrower who brings a low to mid 90s fastball on a regular basis, Nola has the opportunity to make an impact as a 2015 rookie. His curve, changeup and slider should all work to complement his fastball quite well at the MLB level.
The Twins big right handed pitching prospect is in position to make an impact for the team at some point in the upcoming season. Standing at six feet, nine inches tall, this 25 year old pitcher has earned his way to the MLB level with his strong performance in the upper levels of the Twins farm system. Meyer features a great sinker that he throws on a downward plane at mid 90s velocity. Meyer is not the most polished strike thrower, but his off speed pitches are good enough to rack up significant strikeout totals. Meyer may not be the best pitching prospect on this list, but he has more than enough talent to make an impact for the Twins pitching staff in 2015.
Rookie position players
Bryant may be the prospect that gets the call the quickest of all the top guys scheduled to debut in 2015. However, he is still not likely to spend all of 2015 in the big leagues on the Cubs 25 man roster. Bryant could provide the Cubs with Stanton-like power as a right handed hitting third basemen this coming season. Bryant does strike out at a significant rate, but his walk rates and ability to square up on the baseball make his overall offensive production quite spectacular. After hitting 43 homeruns at the upper levels of the Cubs farm system, 23 year old Kris Bryant is ready to make an impact at the MLB level in 2015.
The Twins top infield prospect had Tommy John surgery forcing him to miss all of the 2014 season, but he is healthy now and ready to make an impact for the Twins. Sano has similar power hitting ability to Kris Bryant, which comes with a significant strikeout rate. Sano has a solid approach at the plate that allows him to walk at a good percentage, but without the hit tool of Bryant, he is unlikely to match the production of his fellow rookie. Sano should be able to make an impact for Minnesota from the very beginning however, as power like his is extremely rare. With a midseason debut, Miguel Sano may initially play third base, but first base may be his defensive home long term.
The KBO star infielder is now under contract with the Pirates and should stick in the big leagues from opening day on. Dan Farnsworth of fangraphs, recently projected that Kang could hit .280+ this season with 25 homeruns if given everyday at bats. Even though Kang is going to start the season on the Pirates bench, his impact talent could get him into the lineup everyday quite quickly. As a full season rookie in the National League, the former Korean star could be the preseason favorite to take home the National League Rookie of the Year Award.
Currently the top prospect in all of baseball, the Twins centerfielder could be in position to make a midseason debut this coming season. Among his five plus tools, Buxton has elite speed that should make him a fantastic top of the order hitter for the Twins. Buxton will also solidify the Twins outfield defense with his great range and strong throwing arm. The expectations are high for the Twins young centerfielder, but Buxton has the talent necessary to make an impact from the very start once he makes his 2015 MLB debut.
After trading away Matt Kemp this offseason, the Dodgers now have room in centerfield for their rising star in Joc Pederson. Pederson has a big frame that should allow him to regularly put a charge into the baseball. A very smooth swing has Pederson in position to make the adjustments necessary to make an impact from day one at the MLB level. Pederson may end up moving to a corner outfield position in the future, but for right now he plays centerfield and will make his debut there for the Dodgers this season. Its not farfetched for fans to expect Pederson to provide production similar to Kemp's production from last year, in the near future.
Not all of these prospects will be presented with the opportunity to help their teams to the postseason, but all 13 of these players should prove to be difference makers in year one. For the players fortunate enough to debut on contending teams, they will definitely have the opportunity to help their team to the postseason, and even start in a postseason game. The young pitching in the game of baseball should once again be very impressive with all the power arms coming up through the pipeline. It is young hitters like Kris Bryant who could become superstars for many years though. All of this adds up to Major League Baseball featuring another exciting rookie class that fans should pay attention to throughout the coming season.