MLB Players on a Verge of a Breakout: Under 25, Over 800 Plate Appearances

FRANKCorrespondent IIFebruary 15, 2010

BALTIMORE - MAY 09:  Adam Jones #10 of the Baltimore Orioles is congratulated by Nick Markakis #21 after hitting a home run in the eighth inning against the New York Yankees at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 9, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Greg Fiume/Getty Images

There's nothing magical about the number 800, except it can be used as a barometer to identify potential stars who are younger than 25.

Raising the barometer to over 1,000 at bats limit the young stars, but these players are probably hot fantasy commodities. These players include Evan Longoria, Billy Butler, BJ Upton, and Justin Upton.

Lowering the barometer to around 500 at bats increases the pool, which also raises the amount of players who are marginal.

Using the barometer of collecting over 800 at bats the last two years, the below players may be on the verge of breaking out and can be had for a discount.

Before going on to the list, last years' pool included Matt Kemp, Ryan Zimmerman, Mark Reynolds, Troy Tulowitzki, Billy Butler, and Kurt Suzuki. It also included marginal players Jeremy Hermida and Dioner Navarro, which shows no strategy is fool-proof.


Delmon Young (1039 PA)

2008:  .290 - 80 R - 10 HR - 69 RBI - 10 SB

2009:  .284 - 50 R - 12 HR - 60 RBI - 2 SB

The fantasy community have been waiting for Young to provide an impact since 2007 when he batted .288 with 13 home runs and 93 RBI with Tampa Bay.

At the age of 24, this may be the year he realizes his potential and hits 25 roundtrippers.

Unfortunately, with the signing of Jim Thome, he may find himself in a platoon situation to open the season. Keep an eye out on how this situation unfolds and be ready to bounce on him in shallower leagues. His ADP is at 320.


Adam Jones (1033 PA)

2008:  .270 - 61 R - 9 HR - 57 RBI - 10 SB

2009:  .277 - 83 R - 19 HR - 70 RBI - 10 SB

Jones will probably hit second for the Orioles between Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis, which should increase his runs scored and stolen base attempts, but his contact rate decreased.

It will be interesting to see if Jones will be able to maintain his power, which was reflected by his 17.8 percent HR/FB rate. A HR/FB rate of 20 percent is for the power hitters like Pujols (21.4 percent), Adam Dunn (21.5 percent), and last year's rate leader Adrian Gonzalez (24.7 percent). 

Should Jones increase his contact rate and maintain the HR/FB ratio, we are looking at this year's Matt Kemp.

Right now Jones is being drafted around the sixth round, but may deliver first or second round stats. Take a chance on drafting him around the 60th pick and reap the rewards.


Asdrubal Cabrera (999 PA)

2008: .259 - 48 R - 6 HR - 47 RBI - 4 SB

2009: .308 - 81 R - 6 HR - 68 RBI - 17 SB

Think of Cabrera as this year's Aaron Hill and look further than the six home runs he hit in each of his first two full seasons.

Like Hill, Cabrera showed his power in the amount of doubles (42) and once he fully develops physically, those doubles will turn into homers.

With the potential to at least double his home run totals, drafting Cabrera after the twelfth round will be a steal. Adding those stolen bases and the dual eligibility are nice bonuses.

If his power fully develops, he can finish with stats expected by Brandon Phillips or even Dustin Pedroia.


Carlos Gomez (963 PA)

2008: .258 - 79 R - 7 HR - 59 RBI - 33 SB

2009: .229 - 51 R - 3 HR - 28 RBI - 14 SB

After a slow start and the improvement of Denard Span, Gomez became a bench player for the Minnesota Twins.

Now with the Milwaukee Brewers, via trade, Gomez has their lead-off spot and starting centerfield job penciled in with his name. 

Before jumping all over his decline in fantasy stats, just keep in mind that his walk rate dramatically increased and his strike out rate decreased. All good signs that he may take two steps forward and become the impact player the experts envisioned.

He will be undrafted in most shallow leagues (23 rounds) and in deeper leagues probably will be drafted as the 300th pick.

Be one those guys who take him late and forget drafting other speedsters like Julio Borbon and Rajai Davis 12 rounds earlier.

With his build (6'4") the power may also come along and may very well match or surpass the stats that Span puts up.


Jay Bruce (839 PA)

2008: .254 - 63 R - 21 HR - 52 RBI - 4 SB

2009: .223 - 47 R - 22 HR - 58 RBI - 3 SB

One thing that is intriguing about Bruce is his power potential. His impressive home run totals have been compiled with at bats of 345 and 413. We are talking about the next Adam Dunn.

Unfortunately, Bruce may also provide a Dunn-like batting average.

But before writing off Bruce, just remember that he's only going to be 23-years-old and the home run totals were produced with an awful contact rate.

Out of all five players mentioned, Bruce has the most potential to become a fantasy stud and a first rounder.



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