AL East Players Who Will Break Out in 2013
The teams in the AL East are filled with talent.
The Yankees, per usual, are one of the most skilled and highest-paid teams in the league. The Red Sox are determined to rebound after a tough 2012. The Blue Jays made a bevy of offseason moves. The Orioles are hoping to build on one of their best seasons in years, and the Rays look to ride stars Evan Longoria and David Price to a postseason berth.
Don't be surprised, however, if a newcomer from each team plays a pivotal role in determining the winner of the AL East.
1. Dellin Betances: Homegrown, Hometown Hero?
Betances has only pitched 2.2 innings in the majors, but look for him to make a splash this year. The Yankees could use another big righty in the starting rotation, and Betances definitely fits that mold.
2. Pedro Ciriaco: On the Up and Up
Last season, Pedro Ciriaco was a rare bright spot for the struggling Red Sox. He batted nearly .300 in 76 games and delivered several key hits in games against the Yankees.
A versatile fielder, Ciriaco also filled many holes for the depleted Red Sox in the infield and outfield.
Look for Ciriaco to find a position in the everyday lineup and be among the league's best in hits and average in 2013.
3. Desmond Jennings: B.J. Who?
After losing B.J. Upton to the Braves, it seemed the Rays would be lacking talent in their outfield in 2013. Fortunately for them, however, Desmond Jennings seems poised to have a career season. He has great speed and solid pop, stealing 31 bases and hitting 13 home runs last season in 132 games.
Look for Jennings to fill the void left by Upton and improve his power numbers and stolen-base totals in 2013.
4. Manny Machado: Ready for Anything
In the 2012 postseason, 20-year-old Manny Machado held his own at third base for the Baltimore Orioles. He keyed their run deep into the playoffs with excellent defensive play and clutch hits, including a home run against the Yankees.
Many think it is just a matter of when, not if, he will be a superstar. I think he could make a big leap in that direction this season.
5. Brett Lawrie: Breakout Candidate
A native of Canada, Brett Lawrie is a great candidate to serve as the complementary bat in the Toronto Blue Jays lineup behind Jose Bautista. In 168 career games, Lawrie has 20 home runs and 73 runs batted in, decent power numbers for a corner infielder.
Expect Lawrie to play nearly every day and set career marks in home runs, RBI and average.