American League East Breakout Candidates 

One of the consistently wonderful aspects of professional sports are the players that really blossom into superstar quality athletes during a season. These players aren’t part of the preseason hype by the mass media but make a name for themselves with their play on the field.

As we embark on a historical, abbreviated 60-game season next week, here is a list of one player on each AL East club that may be ripe for a 2020 breakout. 

Baltimore Orioles – Austin Hays 

Baltimore’s 25-year-old center fielder has been waiting for his opportunity to play every day in the Orioles’ outfield and he should be up for the task this year. Hays has been long regarded as one of the organization’s top prospects but his MLB experience has been limited to 20 games in 2017 and 21 games for the O’s last season. Hays should capitalize on the opportunity and be the Orioles’ breakout player in 2020 much like Renato Nunez last season. 

Boston Red Sox – Darwinzon Hernandez 

The Red Sox have a lot of guys ripe for breakouts if given the opportunity. Michel Chavis and Jeter Downs have the potential to break out if an opening arises and the opportunity presents itself to them. Another player has that opportunity sitting before him in 23-year-old flamethrower Darwinzon Hernandez. Boston fans we able to get a preview of Hernandez’s electric fastball when he made his debut pitching 29 games for the Red Sox last season. Expect Hernandez to be a late-inning option for Boston in 2020 and quickly in the mix as the franchise’s future closer. 

New York Yankees – Jonathan Loaisiga 

Last season, the New York Yankees saw outfielder Mike Tauchman and infielder Gio Urshela have breakout seasons after struggling to gain playing time in other organizations. Jonathan Loaisiga has seen spot starts and games out of the bullpen the past two seasons. This year, injuries to Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka expected should provide an opportunity for Loaisiga. Jordan Montgomery seems to be ahead of Loaisiga on several starting pitching depth charts but Loaisiga’s stock will continue to rise as every game becomes crucial in the short season.   

Tampa Bay Rays – Nick Anderson 

Tampa Bay pulled off a trade at the July 31 deadline last season that could benefit them for years to come. They acquired pitchers Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards from Miami for Ryne Stanek and Jesus Sanchez. Anderson pitched 23 games for the Rays down the stretch, recording 41 strikeouts in 21 innings pitching in middle relief. Now, Anderson is expected to be the playoff-contending Rays’ closer; expect him to be among the league leaders in saves this season. 

Toronto Blue Jays – Nate Pearson 

Toronto’s future is bright with many young stars building the core of a formidable lineup for years to come. This season, they expect 23-year-old right-handed starter Nate Pearson to be an important part of the Blue Jays’ rotation. Expect Pearson to have success throughout his rookie campaign and find himself in the mix for 2020’s American League Rookie of the Year award. Pearson will join newcomers Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, Shun Yamaguchi, and Chase Anderson to make up a re-booted Toronto rotation. Pearson will break out in 2020 as a rookie and shows promise of being one of the top starting pitchers in the league in the coming seasons. 

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