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Projecting Each MLB Team's Breakout Player In 2017

Even on the drabbest teams, there are aspiring players who provide flashes of brilliance and inspire hope for the future. It’s always a delight to see an unjaded player play boldly in an attempt to et

Even on the drabbest teams, there are aspiring players who provide flashes of brilliance and inspire hope for the future. It’s always a delight to see an unjaded player play boldly in an attempt to etch a name for himself and vault his team to success, sometimes despite utter futility. Thankfully for hardcore MLB fans, there’s a profusion of young, hungry talent embarking on their MLB journeys in 2017 — these players will provide entertainment value whether or not their teams are in the playoff hunt.

Some of the prospects herein have already made a small-scale splash in the bigs, but are equipped in 2017 to elevate their status and become well-known names. Some of the players listed have yet to get their bearings in the majors but are nonetheless begat by high expectations implanted by scouts and past minor league performances. The criteria for this list accounts for each player’s ceiling, their past accolades, and their presumed ability to meet the expectations that precede them. Players who have already broken out as proven stars were mostly not considered for this analysis.

It’s no secret that MLB’s status as a major sports spectacle is withering. National viewership has been steadily dwindling for years: Not everyone is inclined to watch such a pastoral, methodical game, especially when action-drenched programming like the NFL, the NBA and MMA are competing with baseball for viewers. As fans, our hopes for the sport’s future in part rests in the hands of the stars in the making; the young players who have a chance to lure the national spotlight back to baseball. Take a look and feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section:

30 Baltimore Orioles: Hyun Soo Kim

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The Orioles are a veteran team with a shallow farm system — perhaps the dimmest farm system in the league. Baltimore’s projected 2017 lineup is comprised of established major league commodities. There’s an off chance that their top prospect — catcher Chance Sisco — will be granted a routine role on the club; given Matt Wieters is likely to move on and Wellington Castillo is more of a stopgap than a lasting solution behind the plate. If Sisco doesn’t play, then there are no hidden wellsprings of talent for this year’s team. We mostly know what to expect from Baltimore’s battle-tested regulars.

Hyun Soo Kim recovered from a dismal spring training and early-season benching to become a valuable rookie hitter for the 2016 O’s; hitting .302 with an .801 OPS over 305 at-bats. The 28-year-old South Korean figures to get more opportunities in 2017 to showcase his batting prowess.

Look for Kim to be even more prominent this year — his patient plate-approach will continue to yield good results, and his power numbers will increase if he trends towards his KBO averages. Kim will be especially beetling if he proves that he can hit well against big league southpaws.

29 Boston Red Sox: Andrew Benintendi

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Widely regarded as the league’s top positional prospect, Andrew Benintendi hinted that he’s worthy of his hype during his 2016 call-up to Boston: The Ohioan posted a .359 OBP and .835 OPS in 105 at-bats last season. Expect the 22-year-old outfielder to be a potent addition to the Sox’s already formidable lineup.

Benintendi possesses veteran-level plate discipline to complement his slashing power and quick bat; not to mention his above-average speed. While’s he’s not a pull-centric yanker at the plate, Benintendi’s power numbers will benefit from the drawn-in corners of Fenway Park — especially Pesky Pole as Benintendi is a left-handed batter.

Time will tell if Benintendi develops power in the same league as David Ortiz’, but even if he doesn’t, the touted prospect will help fill the productional void left by Big Papi’s retirement. If fate unravels as scouts portend, he may end up becoming a fixture in left field.

28 New York Yankees: Gregory Bird

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The Yankees are bursting with budding talent. The team’s farm system was restocked by unloading Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and co. during their fire sale last summer. Among other candidates for playing time in 2017, outfielders Clint Frazier and Aaron Judge are major-league ready studs; guys that could potentially ignite the team in a pinch. It’s unclear among the tangle of glittering prospects who will be elected for increased big-league exposure in 2017, though Gregory Bird is a shoo-in to be a prime contributor at first base.

With Mark Teixeira’s retirement, Bird, who missed all of 2016 with a torn labrum, will be given a chance to show his mettle for the Yankees. The 24-year-old showcased impressive power in his abbreviated stint with the Bombers in 2015; hitting 11 HR and posting an .871 OPS in 157 at-bats.

If he can avoid injuries, Bird has the capacity to bolster the Yankees lineup with his mammoth power. He’s a fantasy sleeper — expect at least 20 HR from Bird.

27 Toronto Blue Jays: Devon Travis

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The Blue Jays’s farm system is an arid wasteland. Therefore it’s unlikely that Toronto will be able to rely upon any in-house options to provide top-notch production in the wake of Edwin Encarnacion’s exodus. Devon Travis, however, may be able to help stabilize the team in 2017 if he can stay healthy and continue his athletic progression.

At 25-years-old, Travis has proven himself to be a gifted contact hitter; hitting over .300 with 19 bombs in 627 career at-bats with Toronto. He has missed a hefty chunk of games due to shoulder problems since debuting in 2015, but he is intact and poised to sparkle in 2017.

Travis’s defense became porous as the 2016 season carried on, and his .OBP dropped .30 points from his rookie season. Despite these hang-ups, Travis still hit .300 and was a valuable contributor for the Jays.

More than ever now that Encarnacion is gone, the Blue Jays would love for Travis to flower into all-star form in 2017 — being a more patient batter and developing more power would help. As long as he’s healthy, there’s no reason to think that Travis won’t meet the team’s demands.

26 Tampa Bay Rays: Blake Snell

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Tampa Bay has become reputed for developing a stable of exceptional starting pitchers. Blake Snell is the latest product of that tradition.

Despite not mastering his command in 2016 (his WHIP at 1.62 was a smidge high), Blake Snell did well in his rookie campaign; ending the year 6-8 with a 3.54 ERA. The 24-year-old throws 93-plus and relies heavily on his fastball, but owns an impressive arsenal of pitches; including a 12-6 curveball and a bat-eluding slider.

If Snell can tighten his command of his alternative pitches, he could emerge as one of Tampa’s premier starters in the coming years. Snell is a promising candidate to become a regular hurler for the club, especially given the probable departure of ace Chris Archer. Perhaps 2017 will mark Snell’s emergence as an established menace on the mound.

25 Chicago White Sox: Yoan Moncada

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Though he came at the steep price of Chris Sale, elite prospect Yoan Moncada is sure to bring intrigue and hype to Guaranteed Rate Field in 2017.

The 21-year-old Cuban has been ranked among the brightest prospects in the sport for years. He will finally get a chance to validate his lofty esteem this season for the White Sox — Moncada is projected to start at shortstop and bat near the top of the order.

Scouts gush over Moncada’s all-around game: The infielder has crackling raw power, electric bat speed, and relatively prudent strike-zone discipline. Moncada is also sprightly and acute on the basepaths, leaving many scouts to reckon that he is capable of stealing 40 bases per season.

While in the minors he has been stymied by change-ups — a pitch that’s rare in pro Cuban baseball — it figures that the youthful Moncada will adjust accordingly in due time. It’ll be fun to see Moncada’s development and maturation in 2017.

24 Cleveland Indians: Tyler Naquin

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With Rajai Davis jetting for Oakland this off-season, Tyler Naquin is no longer fettered by a platoon arrangement in center field. As a rookie last season, when he was granted playing time, Naquin excelled at the plate and spurred the Indians to the brink of a world series championship.

The Texas native, despite being attributed below-average defense by several defensive metrics, was an all-round offensive firebrand for Cleveland in 2016. Finishing up with an OPS of .886, an OBP of .372 and 14 HR in limited playing time, Naquin only figures to be more prolific in 2017 now that he’s free to roam center field full-time.

If Naquin can shore up his defense in 2017, it’s possible that he’ll become one of the most prized center fielders in the majors. Naquin’s offensive package — his plate discipline, his gap power, etc. — is already composed. It’s not farfetched that Naquin will have a topflight season as a batter in 2017, especially if he proves he can handle lefties.

23 Detroit Tigers: Daniel Norris

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Michael Fulmer, to the surprise of many, staked himself as a top-end starter during his 2016 Rookie of the Year campaign with the Tigers. As long as Daniel Norris doesn’t crumble, the former top prospect has the potential to become a superb pitcher himself; joining Fulmer, Jordan Zimmerman and Justin Verlander to create a wicked potential rotation for Detroit in 2017.

Nagging injuries have kept Norris from meeting his skyward potential — he’s pitched just 27 games for the Tigers in the last two seasons combined. The 23-year-old has been solid enough when his body allows him to pitch: Norris struck out 71 batters in 69 innings last season while surrendering 22 walks. His fastball zips in the mid-nineties and he controls his pitches reasonably well.

Assuming he’s healthy and unscrambled, Norris has another chance to bloom in 2017. He’s got plenty of time to establish himself in the big show, but for the Tigers there’s no better time for Norris to flourish than 2017. If he stays off the DL, he could certainly put up peachy numbers.

22 Kansas City Royals: Jorge Soler

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Kansas City middled in 2016 despite retaining most of their championship roster from 2015. By acquiring Jorge Soler for Wade Davis in December, the Royals are hoping to add zest and firepower to their lineup. Relinquishing Davis was a gamble for the team, but it’s likely to be a gainful one.

Soler, 24, demonstrated aptitude as a hitter with the Cubs, but he wasn’t able to secure routine playing time due to his defensive inability and injuries. The Cuban hit 12 HR last season in 227 at-bats. As the presumed full-time DH for the Royals in 2017, Soler will be anchored; and his efforts will be focused on swinging the bat and nothing else.

Through his early professional years, scouts coveted Soler for his five-tool potential and explosiveness. That level of potential was never realized for prolonged stretches in Chicago, but an environment change and the ability to play DH will revitalize both Soler and the Royals.

21 Minnesota Twins: Jose Berrios

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Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler — the Twins are bejeweled with lauded young players. If these standouts can reach their respective ceilings soon, Minnesota will enjoy a baseball revival. As the Twins’ burgeoning core takes form, Jose Berrios must ripen. He will, despite being terrible last season.

Berrios and the Twins experienced nasty growing pains in 2016: The top-ranked pitching prospect finished the season with an ERA north of 8 and a WHIP of 1.87. It seemed Berrios lacked confidence in commanding his pitches, as he walked 35 batters in his 58 innings. Results can, and will, only improve from last year.

Wielder of a 94-96 mph fastball and an arresting change-up, Berrios has enough tools to succeed despite not being a large pitcher. With the misery of last season behind him, Berrios gained invaluable experience that will carry him to future success. Look for a much better season out of Berrios in 2017.

20 Houston Astros: Alex Bregman

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Alex Bregman, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 draft, didn’t muck around for very long before having a major league impact. The Louisiana State product was called up by Houston last July and it seems as if there’s no looking back for the 22-year-old.

Knowing that Carlos Correia is indispensable at shortstop, the Astros tinkered with Bregman at various positions through his minor league career. Bregman was beckoned to play third base for Houston and immediately heartened the team with his solid hitting: He had eight HR and 34 RBI in 201 at-bats during his rookie campaign.

The starting third baseman job is firmly in Bregman’s hands in 2017 — he proved he can handle MLB pitching last year, and that his power plays well at Minute Maid Park. While there may be hitches along the way as the young man navigates a relatively new position on the field, Bregman’s future looks very bright.

19 Los Angeles Angels: Tyler Skaggs

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Don’t expect much rising talent to break through in Anaheim in 2017. The Halos own the least-acclaimed farm system in MLB, and their big league roster is occupied by tenured players who have either already broken out or lack the potential to.

Among the dreck, Tyler Skaggs is one Angel pitcher who has the capacity to break out. The former first-round pick has been consumed by injuries since debuting in 2012; culminating in Tommy John surgery in 2014 which caused him to miss 2015 and part of 2016.

In 49 innings last year, Skaggs performed admirably. The Woodland Hills native ended up with an ERA of 4.17 and a K/BB ratio of better than two-to-one. At 25, Skaggs is far from past his expiration date. It will be crucial for the Angels to keep Skaggs in one piece and pitching regularly — he could still someday become an ace if he unfurls his four-seamer and curveball with consistency.

18 Seattle Mariners: Dan Vogelbach

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Dan Vogelbach is expected to get the lion’s share of playing time at first base for the Mariners in 2017. If Vogelbach’s slash line in AAA last season is any indication, then the 24-year-old rookie will find success in Seattle.

His OPS and OBP were outstanding in the minors last year — .923 and .417 respectively. Vogelbach also hit 23 HR, but the cavernous dimensions of Safeco field will probably curtail his power output. Even if he doesn’t hit 20-plus bombs, Vogelbach’s eye and patience at the plate will ensure that he gets on base consistently throughout his first full season. If his power translates to the majors, that’s an added bonus. Seattle would be ecstatic if Vogelbach emerges as a power threat to back up their core offensive core of Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager.

17 Oakland Athletics: Ryon Healy

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In the perpetual revolving door that is Athletics baseball, Ryon Healy surfaced mid-season last year as a valuable asset at third base. The unassuming third-round pick hit .305 with 13 HR in 269 at-bats with Oakland.

Healy’s rapid development is a windfall for the A’s, who otherwise lack much offensive potency. Despite being so green, Healy is expected to bat third and spearhead the offense along with sluggers Khris Davis and Marcus Semien.

Metrically, Healy’s defense was below par last year, but his strong bat more than makes up for his defensive issues. If the A’s are trying to sculpt a sturdy, young core to build around, Healy will be a key cog in their machine. With Oakland, though, no one knows when the big wigs upstairs will decide to uproot a homegrown player once his value has peaked.

16 Texas Rangers: Joey Gallo

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The Rangers have been patient in grooming Joey Gallo, who was selected by Texas in the first round of the 2012 draft. Positional logjams partially explain why Gallo hasn’t seen more major league playing time; though another reason is that his bat speed hasn’t caught up with elite arms yet. His power is unquestionable: Gallo has hit for power at every professional level thus far, including smashing 25 HR for AAA Round Rock in 2016. He only hit .240, though.

It looks like Gallo will get a crack at being the team’s primary DH in 2017. The Rangers expect 20-plus HR output from Gallo, but it remains to be seen if the towering slugger can adjust to major league pitching to get on base at a maintainable rate. His ceiling is high, but the Rangers may look elsewhere if Gallo continues to be beguiled by high-caliber hurlers.

15 Atlanta Braves: Dansby Swanson

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Dansby Swanson is yet another gem to crop up from the 2015 draft. The Georgia native was selected first overall by the Diamondbacks before getting traded to his hometown Braves in December 2015.

Swanson seized the starting shortstop role upon his call-up in August last season; hitting .302 with a .803 OPS in 129 at-bats. At 22 years old, Swanson out-performed his minor league trajectory last year — he hit .289 in A ball in 2015. Even if Swanson’s average plummets in 2017, he’s a plus runner with impeccable defensive footwork and an above-average arm

It’s possible that we’ll see a slight sophomore slump from Swanson, who has never played a full 162-game season. While fatigue may be an issue, it’s a matter of time before Swanson fully adjusts and becomes a mainstay for Atlanta.

14 Miami Marlins: J.T. Realmuto

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Expectations were never very high for infielder-turned-catcher J.T. Realmuto. His offensive campaign in 2016 was a surprising boon for the Marlins; who had previously been addled by catcher Jeff Mathis’s poor batting.

Realmuto’s .771 OPS and .303 BA bolstered Miami’s top-five offense last season. If the 25-year-old’s development stays on course, he’s due for another choice season in 2017. On top of his keen eye, durability, and decent power, Realmuto is smart and nimble on the basepaths for a catcher: He stole 12 bases last year and was caught just four times. Given his skillset and youth, it’s probable that Realmuto hasn’t peaked — he could be in store for a string of outstanding offensive seasons.

13 Philadelphia Phillies: Odubel Herrera

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Odubel Herrera is going to to be a fixture in Philadelphia for many years. The 25-year-old center fielder isn’t given rightful credit because he plays for a lousy team, but Herrera verified his five-tool potential in his first two major league seasons. His limits are unknown, but they’re certainly sky-scraping.

The Venezuelan was great across the board last season: Herrera hit 15 HR, nabbed 25 SB, and showcased a studied plate approach to the tune of a .361 OBP. His range in center field also stood out. Herrera’s BA slipped marginally from 2015, but an upturn in power and walks overcame the contact deficit.

The Phillies wisely signed Herrera to a five-year extension this winter, assuring that their A-1 center fielder will become a linchpin. Philly fans should be stoked to behold Herrera’s rise.

12 New York Mets: Zack Wheeler

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Tommy John surgery and its complications sidelined Zack Wheeler for the last two seasons. He’s scheduled to make his return to the Mets in 2017. If Wheeler can return to old form, then the 26-year-old pitcher could be a studly sleeper for New York.

The Mets are armed with a legion of mighty young starters, so it’s unclear what role Wheeler will take on in 2017. Syndergaard, DeGrom, Matz, and Harvey are all warranted for the rotation, no question. Wheeler will have to compete with Seth Lugo to earn the fifth spot; the other will likely work from the bullpen.

Given his live arm and proven ability to prosper in the bigs, Wheeler will be valuable no matter what part he is asked to play for the Mets — assuming surgery and time off haven’t completely ravaged Wheeler’s talent. A seamless return to his former splendor could spell an immaculate 1-5 rotation for New York.

11 Washington Nationals: Trea Turner

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Assuming Trea Turner can maintain a semblance of his 2016 success, the Nationals have a surefire perennial All-Star shortstop.

Turner, one of the fastest runners in MLB and multi-positional talent, turned in a bodacious stat-line for Washington last season; including a .927 OPS, 33 SB, 13 HR and a BA of .342. The 23-year-old out-shined Bryce Harper and the rest of his teammates upon getting called up in June, and rallied the Nationals to win the NL East title.

In 73 games, Turner posted a 3.5 WAR for the Nats. He played himself into a regular role on the squad and there’s no withdrawing in sight. In fact, given Turner’s rare blend of blazing speed, power, bat quickness, and overall athleticism, he could reasonably become one of the best players in the sport. Turner will join Harper, Daniel Murphy and Adam Eaton in what will surely be one of 2017's best lineups.

10 Chicago Cubs: Kyle Schwarber

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A disastrous outfield collision with Dexter Fowler and ensuing knee injuries caused Kyle Schwarber to miss out on the triumphant 2016 season for the Cubs. The 23-year-old outfielder will be ready to play by opening day in 2017 and is projected to be a regular starter.

As a rookie In 2015, Schwarber clubbed 16 HR and yielded an .842 OPS in 232 at-bats. The Cubs were awed by his power and polish, so they granted him a starting outfield position in 2016 before the fateful collision happened just two games into the season. Given Schwarber’s youth and bona fide power, missing a season should prove to be merely a minor setback. The lumbering Ohio-native is poised to join Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant in the powerful nucleus of Chicago’s offense. Expect plenty of dingers for Schwarber.

9 St. Louis Cardinals: Alex Reyes

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Top prospect Alex Reyes is widely prognosticated to be MLB’s newest legit ace. Let’s see if the 22-year-old can make good on the buildup. If his 2016 performance is indicative of future success, then Reyes is indeed bound for glory.

In 46 innings for St. Louis last season, Reyes racked up 52 Ks and a 1.57 ERA. His K/BB ratio exceeded two-to-one and his WHIP was 1.27. These numbers are especially impressive in light of Reyes’s youth.

There’s no questioning Reyes’s tangible talents: The New Jersey-born fireballer hits the upper nineties with his fastball (he has been clocked as high as 100 mph), and his curveball arches like the St. Louis landmark.

The Cardinals will give Reyes ample opportunities in 2017 — he’s expected to make the opening day roster as a starter. Unless his course is altered by odd fate, Reyes will dazzle in 2017 and beyond.

8 Pittsburgh Pirates: Tyler Glasnow

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Between the emergence of Josh Bell, Jameson Taillon, and Tyler Glasnow, there are plenty of fledgling talents to keep an eye on in Pittsburgh. All three are positioned to get lots of playing time in 2017 and all three stand to flourish. Of them, Glasnow may have the most potential.

Standing at 6‘8. Glasnow’s fastball comes from a downhill plane and detonates on hitters. He pairs his zingy fastball with a breakneck curveball to stymie his opposition. Batting average against Glasnow through his minor league career was a paltry .172 — by far one of the lowest in recent history.

Glasnow did alright with the Pirates in 2016; his 1.50 WHIP was higher than desirable but he struck out 24 in 23 innings. In 2017, Glasnow will continue to sharpen his command and prepare himself for major league stardom.

7 Cincinnati Reds: Scott Schebler

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Besides Adam Duvall’s breakout in 2016 and Joey Votto’s sustained excellence, things have become dreary in Cincinnati. Anthony DeSclafani’s development is compelling, but what other players of great intrigue do the Reds have on the immediate horizon?

Scott Schebler has the potential to have a shipshape season in 2017. The 26-year-old outfielder is projected to get a bulk of the playing time in right field in light of Jay Bruce’s departure. In 257 at-bats last year, Schebler clocked 9 HR and 40 RBI with a .762 OPS — solid albeit homely numbers. If Schebler, however, is given an unimpeded full-time role, he can easily hit 25-plus HR while continuing to develop, especially in Cincy’s bandbox. If Schebler doesn’t produce, then outfield prospect Jesse Winker might take his spot sooner than anticipated.

6 Milwaukee Brewers: Keon Broxton

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The Brewers are another team that’s loaded with prized young players. Touted shortstop Orlando Arcia will get a chance to iron out his kinks in Milwaukee in 2017, but it may be too soon to expect a breakout year from him. Keon Broxton, however, is primed to explode.

Broxton, 26, showed glimmers of greatness in abbreviated playing time with the Brewers last season — his speed, plate discipline, and power are an electric combination. The rangy center fielder hit 9 HR, swiped 23 bases, and posted a .354 OBP in 75 games.

Center field in Milwaukee figures to belong to Broxton in 2017. Even if his BA remains relatively low, Broxton can make huge impacts with his speed and power; especially if he continues to draw walks at a prolific rate.

5 Arizona Diamondbacks: Robbie Ray

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Many a Diamondback position player has broken out in recent years — Jake Lamb and David Peralta come to mind as hitters who have bloomed in the desert. What about Arizona’s pitching? It will be interesting to see how Taijuan Walker and Archie Bradley come along, but Robbie Ray might just blindside the league in 2017.

Ray’s ERA in 2016 was 4.90 and he went 8-15. Not flattering stats, but they don’t doom Ray or tell the whole story: Just a year prior Ray started 23 games and rendered a 3.52 ERA. Furthermore, Ray’s stuff is astounding — he struck out 218 batters last year and projects to be among the NL leaders in K/9 among starters in 2017.

If Ray can harness his complementary pitches, he can be great. He averaged 3.7 walks per game and relied heavily on his speedy fastball (71% of his pitches), which made Ray somewhat predictable. Still only 25 years old, Ray is a tweak or two away from excellence.

4 Los Angeles Dodgers: Julio Urias

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Abiding by LA’s longstanding habit of cultivating great starting pitchers, Julio Urias made a splash in 2016 as a 19-year-old. He’s still raw and unversed despite the accolades. That said, it’s a short matter of time before Urias becomes one of the premier starters in MLB.

The young Mexican wrapped up 2016 with a 5-2 record, a 3.39 ERA, and 84 punch-outs in 77 innings. He also gained invaluable playoff experience for the Dodgers. He did not buckle under the elevated pressure.

Mechanically, Urias is smooth and controlled — his effortless delivery is easily repeatable and requires no overhauls. With plus stuff and tight command of his three-pitch arsenal, Urias is already equipped to become a household name on the mound. His blue-chip status was affirmed in 2016.

3 San Francisco Giants: Ty Blach

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Unless they make a major shake-up, the Giants will be fielding a team of familiar veterans in 2017. We generally know what to expect from the solid, established crew San Francisco has assembled. One relative newcomer might be able become a valuable commodity: Ty Blach.

Blach posted a pristine 1.06 ERA in 17 innings for the Giants last season. The 26-year-old was great in his two starts; the latter of which was an eight-inning shutout against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers in October.

While Blach is not going to get by on strength alone — his fastball maxes at 92 mph and he doesn’t accumulate loads of Ks — he pitches intelligently and has exhibited pinpoint control throughout his professional career. He will likely be asked to flesh out the Giants’ rotation in 2017. We’ll see what his caliber is.

2 San Diego Padres: Hunter Renfroe

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The Padres are slated to field an exciting, youthful team in 2017. Hunter Renfroe (not to be mistaken for Clemson wide receiver Hunter Renfrow) might be the most captivating player of the bunch, and his ceiling might be the highest.

Renfroe played inspired baseball during his late-season call up to San Diego last year, hitting .371 and cracking 4 HR in 35 at-bats. His performance cemented his presumed role as a starting outfielder for the Padres in 2017.

By no means is Renfroe a burner, and his plate discipline isn’t ideal yet — he drew just one walk last season. Nonetheless, the Mississippi product possesses 25-plus HR potential; even playing at pitcher-friendly Petco Park. Watch out for Renfroe and expect him to supply the Padres with power. He will become especially dangerous if his pitch selection gets stingier.

1 Colorado Rockies: Jon Gray

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Whether it’s the elevation or the proclivities of the front office or both, the Rockies have never been a pitching-oriented organization. Jon Gray brings a certain promise that’s rare for a Colorado player: the potential to be a genuine, lock-down ace.

Gray was selected third overall by the Rockies in the 2013 draft. His numbers in the minors were peachy and his rookie season in 2016 was promising too; though his 4.61 ERA is higher than some can stomach. On the brighter side, he led all rookies in strike outs and set a Rockies rookie record for Ks with 185.

The 25-year-old’s 95 mph average fastball is an anomaly among starting pitchers and it should afford him good fortune while he’s young. Apart from his sharp slider, his pitching arsenal does lack depth and leads to easier reads from batters, but that problem can be addressed by tuning up one of his tertiary pitches. Gray has the tools to become elite and 2017 could be the year that he puts everything together.

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