The 2014 MLB All-Star Game will take place Tuesday from Target Field in Minneapolis. While Derek Jeter will be participating in his 14th and final All-Star Game, there's a large group of players who will be making their debuts in the Midsummer Classic.
At least three of them figure to be perennial All-Stars in their careers, provided injuries or other issues don't derail their careers.
Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
Most knew that Jose Abreu projected as a big-time power hitter, but almost no one expected the 27-year-old Cuban to be this good. Abreu has been one of the lone bright spots in a dim season for the Chicago White Sox. Through 78 games, he is tied for the major league lead in home runs with 28.
Unless Abreu inexplicably doesn't play in the second half of the season, or forgets how to hit, he seemingly has the American League Rookie of the Year wrapped up. While he is an old rookie, he's still young enough to play another 10-plus years at a high level in the major leagues.
Bet on Abreu playing in a good number of All-Star games during that time.
Abreu's teammate, veteran and multiple-time All-Star Paul Konerko, had this to say about the beastly rookie, per longtime baseball writer, Peter Gammons:
Paul Konerko on Jose Abreu:"He has such instincts, such a work ethic, that when he gets more used to our game he can hit .320, .330."— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) July 9, 2014
Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees
Despite the fact that Tanaka is headed for the disabled list with an elbow injury that could be serious, there's no disputing he was as good as advertised in the first half of the season for the New York Yankees.
UPDATE: Yankees place Masahiro Tanaka on 15-day DL with right elbow inflammation. Koji Uehara will replace him on AL All-Star roster.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 9, 2014
The 25-year-old Japanese star is 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA and a WHIP of 1.01 in 18 starts. Assuming his arm checks out and nothing career-altering has taken place, this season was just the beginning of a stellar career in the majors.
At 25, he arrived in the majors with enough maturity and youth to have a long and stellar run in the Bronx. That will likely include regular appearances in the All-Star Game.
We can only hope Tanaka's injury doesn't deprive fans of seeing what he could become.
Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers
Without question, Puig is one of the most electrifying and polarizing players in the game today. When you mix in his natural charisma with his immense talent, Puig looks like the type of player who will be amongst the top five vote-getters for the next 10 years.
The 6'2", 235-pound freakishly gifted athlete is having an even better year in 2014 than he did last season.
Through 86 games, Puig is hitting .307 with 12 home runs and 50 RBI. If he doesn't miss any time, he could eclipse the 100-RBI mark for the first time in his career. That will likely be the first of many times he accomplishes that feat.
As well, this will be the first of several All-Star appearances.
All player stats and info per Baseball Reference.