Is Major League Baseball dead? Hell no! With young stars like Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis jr., Shohei Ohtani, and Rafael Devers, baseball is looking pretty good to me. But who are the NEXT stars. I’ll pick one or two people from each team that have been in the league a year or two to keep an eye on. They may not pan out in the long-run, but there are plenty to choose from.
Let’s start in the AL West with the Houston Astros. Everyone know Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman, but someone to watch could be Jeremy Pena. Pena is the kid that’s filling in at shortstop after Carlos Correa bolted for the big money. He’s currently hitting .286 with a couple of bombs. His strikeout rate leaves a little bit to be desired for, but that can be said for most of the kids making the jump to the majors. Will he be as good as Correa? Nope…but it’s nice to see some fresh faces in the bigs. Luis Garcia on the pitching side looks like he could be the real deal too. Over the first 177 innings of his career he’s 12-9 with a 3.25 ERA.
Over in Los Angeles we have Jo Adell. Another free swinger, he’s currently striking out in almost half his at-bats, with some serious pop. As of now, he’s hitting .239 with 2 homeruns, but last year in AAA he had 23 in just 73 games. Once the Angels drill down on his strike zone, he should be a fun one to watch.
While the Oakland A’s traded away their team in the offseason, they acquired Christian Pache in the Matt Olson deal. Batting just .200 at the moment, he’s so far looked fairly overmatched with the big clubs. If I had to guess, he seems to be a lesser version of Devon White. Not as much power and not as much speed, but his defense will keep him in the game. Daulton Jefferies has looked pretty good in a limited 15.1 innings posting a 1-2 record with just a 1.17 ERA and a WHIP under 1.00.
It’s been a rough start for Jarred Kelenic over in Seattle. Still just 22 years old, he has a career MLB average of .179 over 380 at-bats. Equally underperforming is Julio Rodriguez. He’s excelled at every level of the minors, but he’s hit a bump in the road playing with the big boys. He’s hitting just .167 with only 2 extra base hits in his first 48 at-bats in his young career. These two players WILL be the future of the Mariners, just give them a little more time. Also watch out for Logan Gilbert who’s 2-0 with a .54 ERA in 16.2 innings.
Finishing up the division are the Rangers. I don’t have much to say here because they don’t have many youngsters on the roster. For lack of more insight, I’ll just say that Jonah Heim (backup catcher) has started off pretty hot by hitting .381 with 2 homeruns (one being a grand slam off of Ohtani). Do I think he’ll keep up this production? Absolutely not. I’ve just got nothing else for ya lol By the way, if you’re looking for an autographed baseball card of his, I’ve got you covered! Okay, fine, self-serving pick there!
Over in Chicago, everyone knows about Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez. They’re about a year or two removed from the ranks we’re looking at in this post, so Andrew Vaughn is the guy you should be watching here. Starting off the year hitting .313 with 3 bombs, this former third overall pick hit 15 homeruns in his first semi-full year (127 games). Former Red Sox prospect, Michael Kopech has been pitching in the majors since a brief callup in 2018. Still only 25 years old, injuries have sidelined him two full seasons, so technically this is his third year, so I say keep an eye on him. Switching back to being a starter this year, he’s compiled a .64 ERA through his first 14 innings.
The big question in Cleveland is who the hell are the Guardians? Okay, I kid, but seriously, who the hell is Steven Kwan? In 51 plate appearances, he’s hit .395 while walking 9 times. Triston McKenzie looks like a solid youngster to follow too. fairly tight ERA to go along with just over a strikeout per inning.
Spencer Torkelson over in Detroit should be the future of the Tigers. He hit 30 dingers over his 3 separate stops in the minors last year and has hit his first 2 in the majors already. I also feel like Casey Mize could be ready to hit the next level on the pitching staff. He’s started out rather anonymously this year, but he had a career 2.41 ERA in the minors. Let’s see how that translates in the majors.
Kansas City has one of the more highly touted kids on their roster, but the transition hasn’t been the one they were looking for as of yet. Bobby Witt Jr. is hitting .159 with no homeruns after lighting up spring training with a .406 average and 3 blasts. Better days will hopefully be here soon. He cleared the bases 33 times while hitting .290 across AA and AAA last year.
Over in Minnesota, I’m keeping an eye on Alex Kirilloff. In roughly a third of the season last year, Kirilloff hit .251 with 8 homeruns. 210th overall pick in the 2018 draft, Joe Ryan, has started off the season quite nicely by sporting a 2-1 record with a 1.69 ERA and 16 Ks in 16 innings. He fanned 326 batters in has 226 career minor league innings.
Over in the AL East, Baltimore has Ryan Mountcastle who was in the running for rookie of the year last year. Mountie launched 33 balls over the fence last year. He may not give you much in the average department, but he’s got plenty of power. Adley Rutschman is currently on the injured list, but looks to bring his skills to the majors soon. He hit 23 homeruns in 123 games between AA and AAA last year and is a former number 1 overall pick.
Bobby Dalbec in Boston had 25 homeruns last year, but is just keeping first base warm for when the Sox eventually promote Triston Casas. Garrett Whitlock has been a pleasant surprise in Beantown. He’s compiled an ERA of 1.84 through the first 83 innings of his career and is due to make the first start of his career today. Also keep an eye on Tanner Houck and his sub-3.00 ERA over his first 100 career innings.
As for the Yankees, they can su…I mean…they really don’t have too many young guys on their roster currently. If I had to pick someone, maybe Clarke Schmidt, though he’ll just be coming out of the ‘pen barring injuries. Anthony Volpe and Jasson Dominguez will be ones to watch when their time comes.
When it comes to the Rays, the conversation starts and stops with Wander Franco. Wander-fu**in-mania is in full effect! after a midseason callup last year, Franco proved he was Major League ready. He’s currently hitting .393 while leading the league in hits, doubles, and total bases. If that’s not enough, last night he became the youngest player in franchise history with a multi-homerun game. This star shines bright!
To round out the American league, we’re looking at Alek Manoah. Last year in 20 starts, Manoah went 9-2 with a 3.22 ERA. He looks to have picked up where he left off by starting the 2022 season 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA.
Check back in later as we look to see what’s brewing over in the National League.
We’ll also look at some of the future stars “down on the farm” in the upcoming days/weeks. If you have anyone you think we should look at, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.
Til then, thanks for reading!