Every year, players get themselves on a major league roster and they make an immediate impact with their team. St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha was a prime example last year as he threw some gems in getting the Cards to the National League pennant. Here are 10 players who should crack their respective teams opening day roster and make an impact in 2014
1. Masahiro Tanaka –P (New York Yankees)
The Yankees paid big dollars to get the Japanese sensation who went 24-0 with the Rakuten Golden Eagles leading them to the Japanese World Series. The Yankees aren’t expecting Tanaka to go 24-0, but they are hoping to see the same type of positives as the Texas Rangers saw with Yu Darvish in 2012.
2. Jose Abreu -1B (Chicago White Sox)
The talk in MLB in the 2nd half of last season was LA Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig. Many are wondering what type of numbers Puig will put up in his first full season. Like Puig, Abreu is Cuban and many scouts feel he is a better hitter than Puig. If that is the case, the White Sox have a first baseman for the future. If he adapts to North American pitching, he will be a major league problem for teams in the American League Central
3. George Springer –OF ( Houston Astros)
The Houston Astros have many players ready to make the jump to the majors. They should seeing they were the worst team in baseball last year. Springer will patrol centerfield for the Astros and the 24 year old should be a pleasant surprise seeing he averaged 37 homers the last two years while playing solid defence.
4. Xander Bogaerts – SS ( Boston Red Sox)
Bogaerts was a big part of the Red Sox team that won the World Series down the stretch. The 21 year old played 3rd base in the final couple of weeks and in the playoffs and while he contributed, the Red Sox expect that contribution to be greater this year as he starts the season at 3rd base. Its expected he will hit close to or above 300 with enough power to turn some what would be doubles to flyballs over the Green Monster
5. Sonny Gray – P (Oakland Athletics)
He was a late-season sensation as Oakland pushed to the playoffs, and he'll enter this season with a rotation spot. He's expected to be fine after surgery to fix a ligament problem in his thumb, suffered when he tried to field a ground ball in the playoffs. He took a quantum leap forward last year with his control, aggressively attacking hitters and quickly moving through Class AAA to the majors. He has a full collection of pitches he'll use anytime and effectively induces plenty of ground balls.
6. Taijuan Walker – SP- (Seattle Mariners)
The Mariners have made many additions this year. Its hoped in the Pacific Northwest players like Robinson Cano, Corey Hart and Fernando Rodney can have Seattle baseball fans thinking championship like their football brothers who play next door. Felix Hernandez might be one of the best pitchers in the majors and there is hope Walker is ready to step in to be the number three man in the rotation. If the 21 year old has his fastball working, the Mariners will have a solid 1,2,3 punch----perhaps none better in all of the game.
7. Nick Castellanos -3B –(Detroit Tigers)
The trade of Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers may have made Nick Castellanos the happiest man in the Tigers organization. The move allowed Miguel Cabrera to go back to 1st and opened up a spot for the 22 year old to play every day. He hit 276 last year with 18 homers in Triple A and its felt by many he can equal or surpass those numbers if given an everyday shot. If he lives up to his billing, Castellanos may be the front runner for this year’s AL Rookie of The Year
8. Kolten Wong – 2B – (St. Louis Cardinals)
The Cardinals just keep inserting young players into the lineup who succeed. David Freese was one of those young players, but St. Louis moved their third baseman allowing Matt Carpenter to move to 3rd from 2nd allowing Wong to step in to the everyday nine. Wong is an exceptional hitter with everything but big-time power. He has a bit of speed, an effective, spark-plug style defensively and a calm approach to the game. St. Louis has the lineup versatility to protect him if he struggles early, but Wong has been efficiently consistent everywhere he has been.
9. Matt Davidson -3B – (Chicago White Sox)
If both Davidson and Abreu pan out, the White Sox will give the Tigers a run for the pennant in the American League Central. Davidson comes to Chicago courtesy the Arizona Diamondbacks and while a free swinger, he can hit the ball a long ways when he connects and its expected he will be able to hit quite a few homers in a home park that is friendly to hitters. The fact he is about to turn 23 doesn’t hurt either. The White Sox expect him to have triple digit strikeout totals, but they also expect about 15-20 homers and 70-80 RBI’s as well.
10. Jarred Cosart – P- (Houston Astros)
Cosart made just enough of an impression on a bad Houston team last season to make people think what the future could hold. He had 10 solid starts for the worst team in baseball and is thought to be a cornerstone of their future. While it would appear Cosart will be a member of the starting rotation, there is still a thought he would be a better asset at this point coming out of the bullpen. It is expected he will start and deal with the difficulties that come his way to start 2014.