Luis Robert signed a six-year, $50M contract this offseason, locking him into the Opening Day roster. He creates an outfield of the future for the Chicago White Sox of Eloy Jimenez, Robert, and recently acquired Nomar Mazara (who opens the season on the IL).
Robert brings a rare combination of speed and power that saw him top 30 doubles, home runs, and steals a season ago, something MLB.com points out hasn’t happened in the minors since 1961. He was nearly a consensus top five prospect in all of baseball, and he will get the opportunity to show why when he bats seventh in the White Sox opener.
He has plus speed and very good defensive instincts that will allow him to stick in center, but a cannon of an arm that would be more than enough to hold down right. At the plate he hit a career .314 when still in Cuba and a teenager, and has hit nearly as well, .312, in his minor league career. He has an OPS of .932 in the minors, including over 1 over three levels a season ago.
Robert has all the makings of a future star and multi-time All-Star, but there is still plenty of refinement needed. While the ball absolutely flies off his bat, he has struck out nearly four times to every walk, and nearly six times a season ago, so there is plenty of room for improvement in his plate discipline. 11 of his career 18 caught stealing came a season ago, again pointing to the fact there is refinement to be made in the baserunning department.
He will certainly have an impact with the White Sox this season and is the favorite to be named Rookie of the Year, but it is the seasons to come that should have Sox fans truly excited.
Technically Tyler Zuber is the lone player to make the Kansas City Royals who has yet to make his MLB debut, but Brady Singer will be activated before making his debut on Saturday.
Zuber began his time at Arkansas State as a starter, but shifted to the bullpen his senior season and was dominant. It was that dominance that lifted his draft stock to the point he went in the sixth round in 2017 and has quickly moved up the ranks since. This winter he went down to the Dominican to play in their winter league and pitched 15 innings while giving up just two earned runs. He is a rare reliever who still features four pitches, although the change should be scrapped and he should rely purely on the fastball, slider, and curve.
Singer is arguably the best pitching prospect in the Royals organization and was a bit of a shock for the Royals to get him with the 18th pick in the 2018 draft. There was a point heading into the draft that Singer was the favorite to go number one overall, and he has shown that would not have been a reach as he had an ERA under three last season. He has a heavy sinking fastball that sits in the low-90s that he pairs well with a power slider. He also has a quality change and occasionally adjusts the grip on his fastball to a traditional four-seam and blows it by hitters. He has plus command of all his offering and has the makings of being a front of the rotation guy very soon, as is evident by the fact he will get the nod in game two of the season.
I first saw Nick Neidert in the 2015 AZL after he was selected in the second round by the Seattle Mariners. He absolutely dominated in his 11 starts that season and was eventually traded to the Miami Marlins along with Christopher Torres and Robert Dugger in exchange for Dee Gordon. He has only pitched as a starter as a pro but will likely see his debut come as a reliever, although moving back to the rotation is a definite possibility. He has a good fastball, but it is made even better by the fact he has a changeup that flashes the potential of a plus offering. When in the pen, he will rely heavily on these two offerings, both of which he can put right where he wants, but he can also mix in a solid slider and a get-me-over curve as well.
Jordan Holloway’s draft round is misleading, as he slipped to the 20th round due to signability concerns, but eventually opted to turn pro. At 6’6” and 230 lbs. with a fastball that has touched triple digits, he has the chance to be an impact reliever for the Marlins. He has worked almost exclusively as a starter in the minors, but his lack of command and a change that is incredibly inconsistent has long made it a long shot for him to be a viable rotation option at the big league level, but the big curve and power fastball to go with excellent length and extension are tailor-made to be a high-leverage reliever.
After four years at D-II Cal State East Bay, the Miami Marlins got a clear steal in the 17th round when they took Alex Vesia in 2018. He pitched at two levels that season and put up an ERA of 1.35 over 14 outings and 33.1 innings. In 2019 he managed to see time at three levels, threw exactly double the innings as the year before, and put up an ERA of 1.76, including a cool 0.00 in 16.1 innings at Double-A. he capped off the year with over ten scoreless innings in the Arizona Fall League. He brings a fastball that sits up to 95, a change that has plenty of fade, and a curve that is quite effective against fellow lefties. He should settle in well as a middle reliever, which is a fantastic return on the Marlins $25k investment coming out of the draft.
The final piece to make the Marlins bullpen is one of the best young personalities in the game, Rule 5 pick Sterling Sharp. He was another low round selection, going in the 22nd out of Drury University, a D-II school he transferred to from Eastern Michigan, to the Washington Nationals. Sharp impressed in the AFL this Fall after seeing time in Double-A each of the past two seasons. He has an outside shot at eventually finding his way into a rotation thanks to a three-pitch mix that features an above-average fastball and change to go with a slider that is still below-average at this point. He has walked less than 2.5 per nine innings in his minor league career, so he knows how to pound the zone.
Top prospect Alec Bohm will likely be joining the Philadelphia Phillies soon after the first week of the season to gain a year of team control, so the only player on the roster yet to debut in the bigs is Ramon Rosso.
Rosso will likely be a multi-inning reliever in low-leverage situations for the Phillies. He has a career ERA in the minors of 2.80, but had a rough 2019, his first above A ball, with an ERA of 4.46. He made just a single appearance in Spring Training, going 5.2 innings and giving up two runs, so he was a bit of a surprise to make the club.
He has a fastball that sits in the low-90s with some cut to it along with a two-plane slider and a serviceable change. Until last season, he has always put up more than three strikeouts per walk, so he has demonstrated he has the ability to strike guys out and avoid too many walks. He is a low ceiling but relatively high floor arm to round out the bullpen.