If you’re in a keeper/dynasty baseball league or if you’re just an addict and have already had you’re draft, this article is for you. This is a list of players that I believe are not only going to break out, but, turn into super stars this season. It’s a fair warning that now might just be your last chance to buy them, or, the ‘Last Call’. See what I did there? With the site being called ‘Top Shelf’.. and this article is titled ‘Last Call’. Do you get it?
Wait, you don’t get? Oh. Well…
If you’ve decided to continue reading after that horrific attempt of humor, here’s my list:
George Springer- Springer is definitely going to be the most expensive player on this list, as he should be. But with as good as he’s shown he can be, I think Springer is going to be even better this season. In my Bold Predictions column, I said Carlos Correa was going to be the American League MVP. I was very close to making that selection George Springer. There’s not many players in baseball with the power/speed combo that Springer possesses. Maybe only Mike Trout is better in that aspect. He’s a legitimate threat to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases. In 2013, while it was between AA and AAA, Springer almost went 40/40 (37/45)! Now 26 and fully healthy, you better get him now before he becomes untouchable in your league.
Noah Syndergaard- Again, as I stated in my Bold Predictions column, I have Syndergaard winning the National League Cy Young award. This guy is going to be one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. I’ll keep it short and sweet and just leave it at that.
Maikel Franco- Franco thrived in his first real stint at the big league level. Viewed as an Adrian Beltre clone, offensively at least, Franco has only scratched the surface of his offensive potential. I don’t believe he’s going to turn into a 35 homer guy this upcoming season, but, with his power potential and hitting at Citizens Bank Park, the home run ceiling is very high. The upper echelon of third basemen are some of the best players in all of baseball and while the likes of Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado, Nolan Arendo and Kris Bryant all had monster years last season, Franco isn’t that far behind. In 80 games last year, Franco hit 22 doubles, 14 homers and drove in 50 runs while slashing .280/.343/.497. He may not double those numbers exactly, but he shouldn’t be too far off.
Carlos Rodon- Rodon has some of the filthiest stuff in the majors. However, he does have a fairly big flaw: control. His 71 walks and 1.43 WHIP in 139.1 innings are a tad worrisome, but there’s not many pitchers in baseball with his strikeout potential. Even the great Clayton Kershaw struggled with his command in his first few years in the majors. Rodon’s slider is one of the nastiest wipe out pitches in all of baseball. If the former third overall pick can get his command down, we’re looking at a 200+ K pitcher.
Taijuan Walker- Walker had an awful start to last season. In fact, in his first nine starts of the season Walker had an ERA of 7.33. Newsflash: that’s not good. However, in his 18 starts after that, Walker went 9-2 with an ERA of 3.47 while striking out just under one batter per inning. The Mariners have already come out and said they will not be limiting Walker’s innings this upcoming season. There’s a chance that Walker could sneak around the 200 inning mark for the first time in his young career. Walker has dominant stuff and with all of the wear and tear that Felix Hernandez has endured over the past decade, we may see a passing of the touch in Seattle this season.