– By Andrew Barbuzzi
5. Bryce Harper-OF-20-Washington Nationals
This kid is simply a freak, and at just 20-years-old, he will only improve. After a midseason call up from Triple-A, Harper hoisted up 22 home runs with 18 stolen bases. He is on a young-up-and-coming team with the Washington Nationals, and one of the big centerpieces. Harper prides himself on his work ethic, and reportedly added 20 pounds of muscle during the offseason. Look for a breakout year from the young outfielder.
4. Clayton Kershaw- SP-24-Los Angeles Dodgers
Kershaw is not a household name among the average baseball fan… yet. He’s flourished the last couple years on a below average Dodger teams and this year they are stacked. The acquired Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford from the Red Sox along with several other off-season acquisitions give Kershaw some run support. Look for Kershaw to win 20 games this season and be a serious Cy young contender.
3. Stephen Strasburg-SP-24-Washington Nationals
Another reason the Nationals are one of the best young teams in the league. Strasburg was limited to about 170 innings last season in attempts to save his arm for the career. The nationals had the best record in the MLB and still Strasburg was not allowed to pitch towards the season’s end and playoffs. The Nats were eventually eliminated from playoff contention and the 6’4 flamethrower was left on the bench to rot. Expect Strasburg to play this season with a chip on his shoulder while dominating competitors.
2. Giancarlo Stanton-OF-23-Miami Marlins
One of my personal favorites, this 6’5 240 pounder has no lack of power. Coaches and players alike have compared his raw strength to the likes of Barry Bonds and Marc McGuire. He struggled to stay healthy last season, missing about a month of play, but still managed to jack up 37 homers in just 449 at bats. Don’t be surprised if and when Stanton hits over 50 plus home runs next season if he stays healthy.
1. Mike Trout-OF- 21- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
One of the biggest surprises in MLB history, Trout came out of the minor leagues last season and made his name heard. He’s a menace on the field at all times, robbing home runs left and right while hitting 30 of his own. He also has exceptional speed and swiped 49 bases last season and at 21-years-old, the sky’s the limit. There really isn’t one facet of the game that Trout can’t handle and entering the leadoff spot for a crazy good lineup of the Angels Trout could exceed all expectations yet again. He came in second in last year’s MVP voting only to the Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera. Trout is also believed to be weighing a frightening 240 pounds entering spring training, claiming he added 30 pounds of muscle or so in the offseason. There really is no limit for this guy entering next season, and he could be a serious 40-40 threat for a city that longs for a championship. The wait could be over.