Five Of The Most Interesting MLB Names in 2018
A lot of intriguing individual story lines will begin to unfold as spring training opens up for the 2018 Major League Baseball season.
But here’s our look at five of the most interesting players for the 2018 season:
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels
One of the biggest names of the entire off season will be making his official MLB debut, and there will be a lot of eyes on him. The organization plans will ensure he’s ready to be a part of the pitching rotation, but will do what they can to give him opportunities at the plate.
Point being: how they handle him and how he hits in the small sample of a few spring games will be insight into whether he’ll be given a real opportunity as a two-way player.
Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs
After bursting onto the scene in a big way in 2015 and making an improbable (and historic) return to the field in the 2016 World Series, last year was a massive disappointment for Kyle Schwarber. Still, he did hit .253/.335/.559 in the second half of the season, and he spent the offseason remaking his body (and dropping a ton of weight) to counteract the knock that he’s a liability on defense.
Gleyber Torres, New York Yankees
So much of the talk this offseason was about how many home runs we’ll see Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton hit this season, but Gleyber Torres was one of the organization’s young studs that it was rebuilding its future upon. He underwent Tommy John surgery last summer on his non-throwing elbow, and has been deemed ready to go.
The Yankees will give him a long look to see if he can win a job at second base, although his start may be delayed by about a dozen-plus games, so that the Yankees ensure he does not register a full year of service in 2018, allowing them to gain leverage on how long he can play on his rookie contract.
Adam Eaton, Washington Nationals
For a team that already has so much talent, we tend to forget the fact that they also acquired Adam Eaton last year. Of course, we tend to forget that because he sustained a season-ending injury early last year. New manager Davey Martinez said he would like to bat Eaton atop the order, which will deepen an already strong lineup.
Since 2014, Eaton’s .363 on-base percentage ranks 21st in baseball, while his 8.7 percent walk rate ranks 41st in baseball. In other words: he could become the lead-off guy for the best one-through-six batting rotation in the majors.
Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves
After trading left fielder Matt Kemp to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the stage is set for Acuna to come into spring training, make the big club’s roster, and take a run at the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year Award. One scout who reportedly saw Acuna in the Arizona Fall League described him as a “generational talent” with multiple All-Star Games in his future.
Another characterized him as “an impact five tool” talent with outfield skills reminiscent of a young Andruw Jones. We’re pretty sure the Braves would be pleased with either of those.