MLB: Players From The NL and AL Central That Could Surprise in 2017
Wade Davis-Chicago Cubs– Davis missed most of last season due to injury, but figures to leave a big footprint as the new closer for the defending World Series champs. The 31-year old had a 1.87 ERA in 45 games in 2016 and a .94 ERA in 2015 for the Royals. It helps that Davis is on a team that should win about 95 games this season, so there’s definitely an opportunity for him to add more saves to his resume.
Max Kepler-Minnesota Twins– Kepler produced great numbers as a rookie in 2016. The Twins new right fielder had 17 homers, 63 RBI and 42 walks. Clearly, this is a player that gets how to play as a member of The Show. The stats tell me he can show the right amount of patience and will send guys home throughout a 162-game schedule. Obviously, he needs more game action in order to help with his batting average, but Kepler is already showing the Twins he can be apart of their future for years to come.
Felipe Rivero-Pittsburgh Pirates– The south paw has been filthy during his limited time in the majors. In 132.1 innings, Rivero has 141 strikeouts and has allowed only 9 dingers. Clint Hurdle must give this youngster more opportunities to showcase what he do on a regular basis. The Bucs need him with Antonio Bastardo losing his command as he gets older. If Rivero can control his walks as he receives more playing time, then there’s no doubt he will be a greater force to reckon with come September.
Nick Castellanos–Detroit Tigers– Castellanos may be overlooked because he’s in a stacked lineup in Detroit, but his ability to do a little of everything makes him a dangerous foe. He had a batting average of .285 in 2016 with a .496 slugging percentage. With Miggy Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Ian Kinsler in their mid-30s, Castellanos can become an essential figure in the Tigers new core group of players in the not-to-distant future. His versatility is another bonus that cannot be forgotten.
Corey Knebel–Milwaukee Brewers– Knebel can provide stability to the bullpen of the BrewCrew. In 98.1 innings, the right hander has struck out 116 batters and has allowed only 11 homers. His opportunities will increase especially if Milwaukee’s starters post mediocre numbers in 2017. The 25-year old has increased his worth by notching two saves last season, thus making him a candidate for the closer role if Neftali Feliz struggles this year.
Dan Otero–Cleveland Indians- The 6-year veteran has logged more than 260 innings and has a career ERA of 2.97. Otero gets lost in the ferocious Cleveland bullpen, but make no mistake, the man can pitch. He surrendered only 9 homers in 2015 and 2016 combined. He’s a durable asset with plenty of game experience. In his last 121 innings, Otero has yielded only 18 walks.
Paulo Orlando– Kansas City Royals– Throughout the past couple of seasons, Orlando has done as much damage as a swiss army knife. In 2016, he stole 14 bases, drove in 43 runs and posted a .302 batting average. He also tallied 138 in the hits column in 128 games. With Jarrod Dyson getting traded away to Seattle, this gives Orlando more opportunities to shine in the field.
Miguel Gonzalez– Chicago White Sox– The veteran starter has a career 3.81 ERA and has allowed 99 homers in 726 career innings. Gonzalez can still put Ks on the board at a fast rate and he will be a key cog in the South Siders rotation, especially if James Shields and Derek Holland don’t perform at a high level. Gonzalez also has 1.42 ERA in two play off starts, making him a veteran player that can share some wisdom with young players being called up.
Raisel Iglesias– Cincinnati Reds– Iglesias has 195 punch outs in 181.1 career innings. The Reds current closer doesn’t walk batters often and has a career 3.33 ERA. Cincy is thin in the rotation, so don’t be shocked to see Iglesias used more often. The 27-year old could even come in to spot start, he was originally a starter before entering the Reds’ pen last year. Coming into the 2017 season righties were only hitting .174 versus Iglesias, yeah he’s not going anywhere quite yet.
Jhonny Peralta– St. Louis Cardinals– The 15-year veteran missed a good chunk of last season due to injuries, but can still create enough damage. Peralta is a three time All-Star with a career average of .267. He also is being given plenty of chances to prove he can still hit. The Cardinals are struggling right now and could use him, especially with all the young talent still trying to find their way in the big leagues.