Diamondbacks: 3 Potential Breakout Candidates to Watch in Spring Training
The Arizona Diamondbacks have been busy this offseason. With new general manager Dave Stewart, new manager Chip Hale and Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa, there are high hopes for a turnaround in the desert this year.
Spring training is looming. That means that there are several players who are poised to break out and make an impact on the 2015 season.
The D-backs had several players break out last season despite finishing with the worst record in the MLB at 64-98. A.J. Pollock, Chase Anderson and Ender Inciarte all exceeded expectations last year despite their young ages.
Pollock hit .302 with 32 extra-base hits in only 75 games, Anderson won his first five career starts with the team and Inciarte broke a rookie franchise record with an 18-game hitting streak.
Who will break out this year?
Here are three potential breakout players who could find themselves on the D-backs roster to begin the season.
All statistics courtesy of baseball-reference.com unless otherwise noted.
Drafted 36th overall in the 2013 MLB draft, Blair appears to have a bright future with the team.
In 2014, Blair spent time in three leagues, starting in High-A and ending in Double-A. He combined to go 9-5 with a 3.56 ERA. He struck out 171 hitters in only 154 innings, an unbelievably high rate for a young pitcher.
Last season, Blair threw alongside Arizona's other two top pitching prospects, Braden Shipley and Archie Bradley.
But, according to Keith Law of ESPN, Blair may be the most MLB-ready of the three prospects. He also has the least to live up to considering the amount of press that Bradley generates and the pressure Shipley has being a first-round selection.
The D-backs rotation this season is uncertain to say the least. There are several young arms such as Rubby De La Rosa, Chase Anderson and Allen Webster who are all fighting for rotation spots. Yet, none of these pitchers has proved he can pitch at a high level consistently.
That could leave the door open for Blair to make an impact if he breaks out during spring training.
Lamb spent some time on the Diamondbacks last season toward the end of the year. He hit .230 with four home runs in 37 games.
Despite concerns about limited bat speed and a long swing, Lamb has destroyed minor league pitching. In 2014, Lamb combined to hit .327 with 15 home runs and 84 RBI at Double-A and Triple-A.
He is currently listed as the backup third baseman on the depth chart behind Yasmany Tomas. Unfortunately for Lamb, if Tomas sticks at third base throughout spring training, Lamb will struggle to find playing time.
But there is always a possibility for injury not only to Tomas, but to an outfielder. If an outfielder were to be hurt, Tomas would likely be moved to that position, being that was where he played in Cuba.
If that is the case, Lamb could soon find himself as a potential breakout candidate on an already young Arizona team.
With the loss of Miguel Montero, the catcher position is volatile right now in Arizona. Tuffy Gosewisch is slated to start the season behind the plate.
Gosewisch has never been an offensive threat in his short MLB career. Last season he hit only .225 with one home run in 41 games.
That is good news for Peter O'Brien. Between Gosewisch, Oscar Hernandez and O'Brien, the latter clearly possesses the most offensive potential. In High-A and Double-A last season, O'Brien combined to hit .271 with 34 home runs.
O'Brien is also versatile defensively, where he spent some time at first base and in the outfield while in the Yankees farm system.
If the D-backs are slacking offensively, especially at the catcher position, O'Brien is the answer.