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Each AL Club’s Breakout Player Candidate for 2024

Photo(s) by MLB Photo's/Getty Images ; Graphic by ATD Media

Each year, every team in MLB can expect a certain player to have a standout/breakout year. This player could be a prospect or a longtime veteran who is coming off a disappointing season. Here is one breakout candidate for each American League club!

Baltimore Orioles: RHP Grayson Rodriguez

Photo by Ben Ludeman/Texas Rangers/Getty Images

Grayson Rodriguez was the Orioles 11th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, during the time the O’s were loading their farm system. Rodriguez got the call in early April for his MLB debut and did not finish the season the way he or the Orioles had hoped. Rodriguez finished 2023 with a record of 7-4 while posting a 4.35 ERA across 122.0 innings.

Rodriguez has all the tools to take that next step in his career, and we fully expect him to. While the O’s have a lot of breakout candidates, Rodriguez tops our list.

Toronto Blue Jays: INF Ernie Clement

Photo by Getty Images

Ernie Clement made his debut with the Blue Jays during the 2021 season with the Guardians. Clement was placed on waivers by Cleveland and was picked up by Oakland before making his way to Toronto.

Clement got the call-up by the Jays and never looked back. Clement slashed .380/.385/.885 in 52 plate appearances at the big league level in 2023. His 2024 spring is showing just as much promise. Clement is slashing .421/.450/.684 with a home run.

The only question heading into 2024, will Clement be with the Jays? With recent trade rumors and the signing of UTIL Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Clement could be on his way out. However, if he remains, he’s our breakout candidate for the Jays.

Boston Red Sox: RHP Brayan Bello

Photo by The Boston Globe

Brayan Bello is coming off of a fresh new 6-year, $55 million contract. The Red Sox have locked up their promising young pitcher for years to come. Now that Bello has his long term home, we believe he’s going to take the next step and turn into the future ace of the Red Sox.

Bello compiled a 4.24 ERA across 157.0 innings, recording a 12-11 record in 2023. After his first full season, 2024 is primed to be Bello’s year. Bello has shown flashes of success and what his true potential is and we fully expect that to continue into 2024.

New York Yankees: SS Anthony Volpe

Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Anthony Volpe was once the Yankees top prospect and got the call before opening day last season. Volpe had some big expectations to fill once he stepped on the field as the Yankees everyday shortstop. His rookie season was a positive in Yankees universe.

Volpe finished his rookie campaign with a slash line of .209/.283/.383 with 21 home runs and a Gold Glove Award. Volpe showed flashes of power and speed while hitting for contact. With the nerves of his rookie season gone, Volpe is primed to settle into his sophomore season and come out with a bang.

Tampa Bay Rays: RHP Ryan Pepiot

Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos, Getty Images

Ryan Pepiot and the Tampa Bay Rays are seemingly a match made in Heaven. Pepiot was dealt to the Rays in part of the Tyler Glasnow trade with the Dodgers. Pepiot showed great promise with the Dodgers in 2023 when he pitched to a 2.14 ERA across 42.0 innings, compiling a 2-1 record.

The Rays are known for squeezing out talent in young players, Pepiot should be no different. With Pepiot likely to call Tampa Bay home for years to come, he is primed to turn into the next Rays top starter.

Cleveland Guardians: RHP Gavin Williams

Photo by David Durochik/Diamond Images ; Getty Images

Gavin Williams is in a Cleveland rotation that is projected to be filled with all pitchers drafted and developed by the Guardians. Atop of that being impressive, the Guardians are a pitching machine.

Williams is slotted in near the bottom of the rotation, but very well could make his way up in no time. Williams finished 2023 with an impressive 3.29 ERA across 82.0 innings, compiling a 3-5 record. We full expect Williams to take that next step and blossom into a viable starter.

Chicago White Sox: RP Garrett Crochet

Photo by Ron Schwane/AP Photo

Garrett Crochet is the one of the last mainstays left in the White Sox bullpen. With the recent departure of Liam Hendriks, Crochet is likely the closer going forward in the Windy City. Crochet has not pitched a full season since 2021 where he pitched to a 2.82 ERA across 54.1 innings.

Crochet has been a name that we have been just waiting to breakout. We believe that 2024 could finally be that year for the 24 year old. His career 2.71 ERA across 73.0 innings is promising and shows that the potential is there, he just has to put it together.

Kansas City Royals: OF Nelson Velázquez

Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Nelson Velázquez was traded to the Royals last season from the Cubs. Many scratched their heads at this trade as Velázquez has upside, the reason why we chose him to breakout in 2024. Velázquez slashed .235/.302/.586 with 17 home runs between Chicago (NL) and Kansas City in 2023.

Velázquez’s slash line may not wow a lot of people, but looking into his OPS, he posted a .888 OPS in total for 2023. However, during his time with the Cubs, he posted a .933 OPS, meaning he gets on base and boosts his slugging percentage at a high rate. This youngster has all the makings of being a difference maker in Kansas City.

Minnesota Twins: INF Royce Lewis

Photo by USA Today

Royce Lewis was the first overall pick in the 2017 draft by the Twins. Since then, he has developed into a future mainstay in the Twins lineup. Lewis made his MLB debut in early May of 2022, appearing in just 12 games. Looking at a bigger sample size, Lewis appeared in 58 games in 2023 and was electric from the start. Lewis slashed .309/.372/.548 with 15 home runs.

Just to add to his impressive 2023 campaign, Lewis broke the Twins single season record for grand slams and made a huge impact on the Twins postseason success. 2024 will be his first projected full season and we fully expect him to be a big contributor in this Minnesota lineup.

Detroit Tigers: INF Colt Keith

Photo by Detroit Free Press

Colt Keith became just the seventh player to sign a pre-debut deal. The Tigers and Keith came to an agreement on a six-year, $28.6 million deal and could max out at $82 million over nine years. Keith will likely start the season in Detroit for his debut and be the everyday second baseman.

Keith slashed .306/.380/.552 with 27 home runs across his time in AA Erie and AAA Toledo. Keith’s expectations mixed with his talent is the reason why he comes in on this list as Detroit’s breakout candidate.

Texas Rangers: OF Evan Carter

Photo by Sports Illustrated

Evan Carter is coming off of a World Series win with the Texas Rangers. Carter played a big part in the Rangers championship run after he got called up in early September. Carter flew through the prospect rankings and earned his call up.

When he reached the Major Leagues, Carter slashed .306/.413/.645 with 5 home runs and posted a 1.058 OPS. With 2024 projected to be his first full season with the big league club, Carter looks ready to pick up right where he left off.

Los Angeles Angels: C Logan O’Hoppe

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Logan O’Hoppe was sent to Los Angeles in the trade that sent Brandon Marsh to the Philadelphia Phillies. Since then, O’Hoppe has been penciled in as the future catcher in Anaheim. With injuries, we have not been able to see what O’Hoppe can fully offer.

In the sample sizes we have seen, O’Hoppe looks like the real deal. Before his injury that left him sidelined for most of 2023, O’Hoppe slashed .236/.296/.500 with 14 home runs. His defensive metrics showed promise just as much as his bat. O’Hoppe is a key piece to what the Angels are building and 2024 should be the first sign of that.

Seattle Mariners: RHP Bryan Woo

Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The Mariners are forming quite the starting rotation in Seattle. Part of that rotation is 24 year old righty Bryan Woo. Woo is looking to build off of his impressive rookie campaign.

Across 87.2 innings, Woo compiled a 4.21 ERA and gave the Mariners a reason to believe in their young core of pitchers. Woo without a doubt has a chance to make this Mariners rotation even scarier. In 2024, that’s exactly what we think Woo will accomplish.

Houston Astros: RHP Hunter Brown

Photo by CBS Sports

Hunter Brown’s expectations this season will be quite different than last year. With the Astros rotation taking some injury hits, his performance needs to improve from 2023.

His 2023 seen an ERA of 5.09 across 155.2 innings, with a record of 11-13. We seen flashes throughout the season of what Brown can accomplish when his game is on point. With a full season in his future, we predict to see more of his potential shine through.

Oakland Athletics: INF Zack Gelof

Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The Oakland Athletics are heading into yet another season with no expectations, however, that couldn’t be more of an opposite for Zack Gelof. Gelof made his debut in mid-July of 2023 and made an immediate impact.

Gelof slashed .267/.337/.504 with 14 home runs in his 69 games with the big league club. If his .321/.387/.643 Spring Training slashing is any indication to what’s to come in 2024, the A’s have something to be excited about. That’s exactly what we expect out of Zack Gelof in 2024.

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