Each Major League Baseball season brings a new group of prospects ready to explode onto the big league scene. Sometimes service time nonsense deprives us of a few weeks, sometimes new contracts mean they are with us from Opening Day onwards.
Not every prospect works out, of course, but for many franchises this is what the new season is about. Only a handful make franchise-changing offseason moves. Plenty of other teams have young talent that could be every bit as influential as a veteran arrival.
These five prospects are not only going to be fun to watch, they could make a real difference to their team’s chances. All five of the players below are on potential postseason teams – which will have the biggest impact?
With a six-year, $50 million contract to his name before his Major League debut, Luis Robert arrives in the big leagues with serious pressure on his young shoulders. The Chicago White Sox have been waiting for their prospects to come together, and Robert could be the final piece of the jigsaw as they look to contend in 2020.
Yoan Moncada had a breakout year in 2019 and Eloy Jimenez has a year of MLB experience under his belt. Michael Kopech is ready to return from surgery and Lucas Giolito looks like an ace. Robert posted an OPS of 1.001 in the minors last season – could he be the player that wins Chicago their first division title since 2008?
Jo Adell could be another middle of the order bat if his minor league numbers are anything to go by. Adell crushed AA pitching last season, but had a more difficult time in AAA. It could be a few weeks before we see him in the Majors, though the Angels will be keen to get him to LA if he has a hot start.
He’s a complete player, he’ll steal bases and play some great outfield defence. If the Angels are to be serious contenders this year, they need something from Adell.
A glove-first player when signed by Atlanta, the 21-year-old has developed tremendously offensively over the last couple of years. Pache’s ceiling – if the offence translates to the Majors – is very high.
The Braves have been shrewd with trades, and resisted the urge to deal highly rated prospects like Pache. They continue to reap those rewards, and could have an immense controllable core if Pache consolidates himself as a big league player this season alongside Albies, Acuna and Freddie Freeman.
Dustin May is the pitcher the Dodgers faithful will be most excited about, however. May is a brilliant pitcher to watch, his turbo sinker often humiliating hitters and his long, red hair adding to the theatre. The right-hander appeared in September 2019, but still has his rookie status for 2020.
Pache and May could end up battling it out for National League Rookie of the Year. May has the potential to ascend to All-Star standard in no time, and could be heading on a similar trajectory to teammate Walker Buehler.
Another California-based rookie with brief Major League experience, A.J. Puk is expected to have a significant role for the Oakland Athletics in 2020 alongside fellow youngsters Frankie Montas and Jesus Luzardo. Luzardo could easily have shared this spot with Puk – the duo’s performances will go a long way to deciding how competitive Oakland will be.
With a big fastball and great slider, Puk has the stuff to succeed in the Majors. His curve and change have made progress in recent years, too. He racks up the strikeouts and we can expect more of the same once he’s on the biggest stage. Returning from elbow surgery, the Athletics will be careful with him, and could use him out of the ‘pen at times. Whatever his role, Puk is a going to be fun to watch.