Dan Marino continues his trek through each division in the major leagues and giving you one player he thinks is the: Rookie to Watch, Breakthrough Player, The Party’s Over, Non-Roster Invitee Most Likely to Stick, and Just Not Seeing it.
Now, in part four of six, he brings you the National League Central:
Part 1: AL East Players to Watch.
Part 2: NL East Players to Watch.
Part 3: AL Central Players to Watch.
Rookie To Watch: Brett Jackson – His brief time with the Cubs was uninspiring, but he’s made some adjustments this off season that may help his swing. He’s the one to watch, though the Cubs have some intriguing young players.
Breakthrough Player: Josh Vitters – There’s much competition at 3B for the Cubs, but if this team is in rebuild mode, Vitters would be the logical choice to start.
The Party’s Over: Ian Stewart – His days in Chicago could be numbered with Vitters and Valbuena around.
Non- Roster Invitee Most Likely to Stick: Brent Lillibridge – Played well with cross-town rival White Sox. He’s gritty and is a sparkplug when given the opportunity.
Rookie To Watch: Billy Hamilton – Run Billy run!
Breakthrough Player: Zack Cozart – He’s capable of a 20HR season. With runners in scoring position he hit .182. If he can improve upon that, he should increase his low RBI total (35 RBI with 15 HR). You have to like his potential.
The Party’s Over: Alfredo Simon – Had a decent 2012, but is that the norm or an aberration? I’m not sold on him sustaining success.
Non- Roster Invitee Most Likely to Stick: Miguel Olivo – The question is whether or not there is room for him. The Reds have an uninspiring group of non-roster invitees.
Just Not Seeing It: Mike Leake – It’s unlikely he can remain in the rotation with Chapman slated for starting duty.
Breakthrough Player: Martin Maldonado – With injuries to Gamel and Hart, give Maldonado a first baseman mitt and teach him how to play first base. He showed surprising pop last year as Lucroy’s backup.
The Party’s Over: Ryan Braun – I wonder what next year’s PED story will be. Obviously he can still hit, but his reputation is officially questionable (if it wasn’t already).
Non- Roster Invitee Most Likely to Stick: Bobby Crosby – His versatility could win him a backup job. He was once a budding superstar.
Rookie To Watch: Jameson Taillon – He has all the tools and should make a contribution before 2013 is over. Hios command is impressive for a young pitcher.
Breakthrough Player: Jeff Locke – He knows how to win, and he has been solid at AAA. He showed nice flashes with the Bucs last season.
The Party’s Over: Michael McKenry – He’ll remain with the team, but his starting gig is over with Martin in town.
Non- Roster Invitee Most Likely to Stick: Brandon Inge – He’s a valuable player to have on a team. His experience can only help the young Pirates.
Just Not Seeing It: Clint Hurdle still managing this team. Amazingly they just gave him an extension.
St Louis Cardinals
Rookie To Watch: Oscar Taveras – There could be a batting title in his future. For a guy who can hit with power, he keeps his strikeouts down. This team continues to grow talent.
Breakthrough Player: Jon Jay – If he could just add some power, he’d be the complete player. He can flat out hit.
The Party’s Over: Jake Westbrook – The stuff is starting to fade. Can he keep a rotation spot all season?
Non- Roster Invitee Most Likely to Stick: None. Someone in the front office must have lost the invitations.
Just Not Seeing It: Rafael Furcal – Can he stay healthy for the second straight season?
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis Tagged: | Alfredo Simon, Billy Hamilton, Bobby Crosby, Brandon Inge, Brent Lillibridge, Brett Jackson, Carlos Gomez, Carlos Marmol, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Clint Hurdle, Ian Stewart, Jake Westbrook, Jameson Taillon, Jeff Locke, Jon Jay, Josh Vitters, Martin Maldonado, Mat Gamel, Matt Garza, Michael McKenry, Miguel Olivo, Mike Leake, Milwaukee Brewers, Oscar Taveras, Pittsburgh Pirates, Rafael Furcal, Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun, Scooter Gennett, St. Louis Cardinals, Zack Cozart