As the spring season has arrived and the start of the 2013 MLB season just mere days away, I will be releasing a divisional team-by- team listing of players who are poised to have huge breakout campaigns for their respective teams in the coming days. Today, we begin with the National League East.
1. Dominic Brown- Philadelphia Phillies OF.: After all of the blockbuster trades that the Phillies have engaged in over the years, it’s honestly hard to believe that they were able to retain Brown throughout all of them. When many thought the once star studded prospect had become a bust after the 25 year old lefty had batted just .226 with 12 home runs and 58 RBI in 433 career big league at bats, Brown has exploded this spring and has people around baseball raving. With a starting spot in the outfield up for grabs, Brown entered the spring as a prime candidate to secure a starting spot in the outfield and he has done just that, hitting .397 with an MLB leading six homers while driving in 12 runs. In an age where power hitting outfielders are at a premium, the Phillies look to finally be bearing the fruits of sticking with their long time crown jewel. Hitting behind a healthy Chase Utley and Ryan Howard along with playing in the hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park make Brown my prime player to break out for the Phillies in 2013.
2. Jordany Valdespin- New York Mets 2B/OF: In an off-season where the Mets conceivably should have added three serviceable major league outfielders to their roster, they added none. After proverbially striking out in their half-hearted pursuit of Michael Bourn, the Mets were left with scrap heap alternatives such as Collin Cowgill and Marlon Byrd to play big innings this season. Entering play today, Valdespin has emerged as a huge asset that much of the Mets success will be hinged on moving forward. He is the team leader in homers (4) and RBI (8) with a .341 batting average and stellar OPS of 1.021 this spring. Valdespin is a versatile and speedy player that can play second base in addition to all three outfield positions. A player that thrives on emotion, Valdespin has been compared by many executives in that respect to former Met, Jose Reyes. Depending on the health of Daniel Murphy at second, Valdespin will either serve as his replacement or be patrolling centerfield and hitting leadoff for the Mets on Opening Day.
3.Christian Yelich- Miami Marlins OF: Miami has three stud outfield prospects and Yelich is probably the cream of that crop. As the first round pick (23rd overall) by Miami in 2010, Yelich has exploded onto the scene this spring with 5 long balls and a robust .381 batting average. Because he has never played above the single-A level, the 21-year old Yelich starting the season in the big leagues would be somewhat of a rarity but not unheard of. The fact that he is still in big league camp at this juncture tells you that Miami is giving him every opportunity to earn a job. He will get a chance sooner rather than later and will serve as a vital cog to the Marlins rebuilding process both this season and beyond.
4. Andrelton Simmons- Atlanta Braves SS: Simmons in my opinion has all of the tools to become one of the premiere shortstops in all of baseball. He is regarded by some scouts to have defensive potential to that of Hall of Famer. Ozzie Smith. After hitting over .400 for the Netherlands in the WBC, the Braves feel as though the 23-year olds bat is maturing before their very eyes. With the addition of the Upton brothers and protection from Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman, Simmons could be poised to get a lot of pitches to hit in a gap friendly Turner Field.