Today is Opening Day, on U.S. soil at least, for Major League Baseball, and what better way to enjoy some early April games than with the second annual MLB Breakout Broz list. Last year, then-future National League Rookie of the Year, Craig Kimbrel, was listed as the top Breakout Bro for the 2011 season. This year’s list includes another young Braves fire-baller, a repeat offender in a new uniform, and one of the most revered young names in the game.
With the average age of the 2012 MLB Breakout Broz being just 22, don't be surprised to see them killing the game for a long time to come...
10) Tyler Skaggs – Arizona Diamondbacks
One of the top prospects in the Arizona organization, Skaggs' devastating curveball and pin point control has earned him a 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings ratio in his minor league career. The 20-year-old out of California will start the season in Double A for the D-backs, so we may not see him till after July, but when we do, best believe he will be ready to perform.
9) Mike Trout – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The center fielder out of Vineland, New Jersey pounded five homers and knocked in 16 runs last season in just 40 games in the Majors...and the is only 20 years old. The #1 prospect in all of baseball according to the MLB Network will start in Triple A due to injury and illness this spring, but we will no doubt see this guy in the big leagues swingin' the axe again before the end of the season.
8) Jarrod Parker – Oakland Athletics
After switching ball clubs in the offseason, Jarrod Parker is now with the Oakland Athletics’ after a short stint with Arizona at the end of last season. In 5.2 innings during the regular season, Parker allowed one walk and no earned runs, showing great control. His first post season appearance did not go as well though, as he surrendered a run in 1/3 of an inning. However, at 23 years old, any post season experience can be valued as top notch learning experience going forward. After two shaky starts completed his spring, he will begin this season in Triple A, but with a bleak starting rotation, I fully expect him to nab the fourth spot before the All Star Break, to start turning some batters' heads before sending them back to the dugout.
7) Yonder Alonso – San Diego Padres
In 69 games last season, the former Miami Hurricane from Cuba batted .299 with 5 homers and 18 runs batted in. Alonso was traded to the Padres from the Reds, along with two others, last December in exchange for Matt Latos. Alonso is one of the few Broz on the list that should be starting on opening day, and the Padres are hoping he can bring his production last year in the mid-west to the west coast in 2012.
6) Julio Teheran – Atlanta Braves
The 21 year old from Colombia struck out ten batters in 19 innings last season en route to a 1 – 1 record while moving back and forth from the big leagues to Triple A. In Triple A, Teheran had a 2.25 era with a 1.18 whip in 25 starts, but must show better control if he wants to nab the fifth spot in the solid Braves rotation. Listed as one of the top prospects in the Braves organization, Teheran struggled this spring and will begin in Triple A, but he should bounce back and be starting in the big leagues before we know it.
5) Drew Pomeranz – Colorado Rockies
If you looked up control in this year’s dictionary, it would say see Drew Pomeranz. The 23-year-old out of Ole Miss showed great control last year, allowing just five walks in 18-plus innings en route to a 2 – 1 record. Last Saturday, Pomeranz picked up his third win of the spring, throwing six shutout innings, showing scouts that he's picked up right where he left off. Due to a thumb injury he will miss his first start of the season, but the sophomore is slated to make his 2012 debut April 15th against Arizona.
4) Bryce Harper – Washington Nationals
Whether it was blasting 500 foot bombs in high school or showing up pitchers in the minor leagues, everyone has heard of Bryce Harper. What every one doesn’t know, is Harper has matured greatly in his short time in professional baseball, and according to Washington Manager Mike Rizzo, he needs to improve on, “nothing whatsoever.” So why is the future super star starting in Triple A Syracuse this season after batting .297 with 17 big fly's, 58 RBIs and 26 stolen bases in the minors in 2011? It’s rather simple actually, the Nationals want him to gain more experience in his newly acquired position of center field before becoming the face of the franchise, to go along with Stephen Strasburg of course. We will all know when Harper makes his debut in D.C., and it may come sooner than a lot of people think.
3) Jesus Montero – Seattle Mariners
Our repeat offender from the 2011 Breakout Broz list, Jesus Montero, was traded this offseason from the Yanks to the M’s for starting pitcher Michael Pineda and two others. Montero got off to a slow start in the the Mariners' opening series with Japan, tallying just one hit, but had a monster spring training, leading the team in runs batted in. Last season, in 20 games, the 22-year-old catcher from Venezuela batted .309 with 12 RBIs - showing that he is ready to face major league pitching day in and day out. The Mariners now have a very formidable batter combo once every five starts with King Felix and Montero in the tough division that is the AL West.
2) Yoenis Cespedes – Oakland Athletics
The second Oakland Athletic to make the list, Yoenis Cespedes, is a 26-year-old Cuban defector who joins the Major Leagues after tearing it up in countless world tournaments, including the 2009 World baseball Classic where batted .458 with a double, three triples, two homers, five runs and five runs batted in. After two games this season, Cespedes, who is a brick house at 5'10", already has knocked in two runs and belted his first homer; expect him to produce for the A’s all year long.
1) Matt Moore – Tampa Bay Rays
Ranking the top four Broz this year was one of the more difficult processes I have come about. From Harper to Montero to Yoenis, they all have amazing talent with high probabilities of taking home Rookie of the Year honors. But, for the second year in a row, it’s a fire baller from the southeast.
In 2011, Moore struck out 15 batters in 9.1 innings, allowing only one walk in three appearances. He also picked up his first major league win. Moore, who was born in Florida, before moving to New Mexico, has an uncanny ability to change speeds, hitting 97 on the radar gun consistently with great control. I fully expect the Southpaw to KTG in 2012, anchoring the final spot in a solid Rays rotation.
Definitely check in throughout the season to see how these Breakout Broz are fairing, and enjoy MLB Opening Day!