There is a group of fledgling superstars currently poised to make the jump from exciting minor league prospect to established major leaguer, and there are few things better for a team than having a rookie in the midst of a breakout season. Young players often have an infectious enthusiasm when things are going well for them, and the energy they inject into a clubhouse can help carry a team to the postseason. There are countless examples of rookies making an immediate impact at the major-league level, but it is exceptionally difficult to accurately project which players are due for a breakout and which players will not live up to their prospect hype.
In 2013, the Los Angeles Dodgers benefited from Yasiel Puig’s call-up from Double-A Chattanooga, as the young right fielder took Los Angeles by storm and, along with Hanley Ramirez, powered a Dodgers offense that went on a historic 50-game run in which the team won 42 games and took control of the NL West on the way to an appearance in the NLCS. In his rookie season, Puig slashed .319/.391/.534 and hit 19 homers to help turn around a floundering Dodgers team.
Jose Abreu’s similar emergence in 2014 spurred the Chicago White Sox to make a slew of moves this offseason that they believe will make them serious World Series contenders, and there are a host of other teams with prospects entering the big leagues for the 2015 season that have reason for similarly lofty expectations. It is often the case that some prospects far exceed expectations, while there are always others who fail to meet the expectations that have been thrust upon them.
Each of the following players has retained their rookie status, though some of them have already appeared in the major leagues for brief stints. Each player on the list is also expected to at least contend for a spot on the major league roster as their respective teams break camp for Opening Day, and while many are already dealing with the pressure that comes with big expectations on the big-league level, all of the following players are expected to have breakout seasons for their respective clubs.
10 Carlos Rodon
9 Steven Souza
8 Dalton Pompey
7 Jorge Soler
6 Andrew Heaney
5 Noah Syndergaard
4 Joc Pederson
3 Rusney Castillo
2 Yasmany Tomas
1 Kris Bryant
Bryant quickly ascended the Cubs minor league system in his first full season in the minors, leading all minor leaguers in home runs with 43. He split time between Double-A and Triple-A, slashing .325/.438/.661 for an OPS of 1.098. A third baseman, there is some thought that Bryant will start 2015 in the minors in order to delay the start of his big-league service time, but if his production in the minors serves as any indication, Bryant will be a force for the Cubs the moment he sets foot in Wrigley. He is one of the most highly regarded prospects in all of baseball, so it is fair to expect big things from Bryant starting with the 2015 season.
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