Hector Neris, Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies are in rebuild mode and Neris has been one of the few stabilizing forces during this process. Spending over $130 million during the offseason to reposition themselves as postseason contenders if the Phillies are to make their first playoff appearance since 2011, Neris will be required to take his new role as the team closer to the next level. Since the Dominican-born right-hander made his MLB debut in 2011 he’s pitched in 186 games. His record (11-11) is at the .500 mark and he’s thrown for 196 1/3 innings and has accumulated 230 strikeouts to just 66 walks, along with 28 saves, a WHIP of 1.18 and 2.98 earned run average.
If the Phillies offense can put up the runs, were pretty certain Neris can hold opponents at bay when the ninth inning comes along.
Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs
At just 25 years of age this Venezuelan has fast tracked his way up the big-league ladder. His ascent in the Cubs organization was rather fast. His call up from AAA was earlier than expected during the 2016 season due to injuries at multiple positions. Contreras got plenty of playing time as he can play first base and roam the outfield in addition to catching. And if ya didn’t know, he can also hit the stitching off the ball.
He finished the season as an off-the-bench contributor for the history making World Series championship team that year. He became the starter last season after some roster moves but injuries slowed him down slightly. With the Cubs eyeing another championship on 2018, Contreras is expected to be a major contributor as the Cubs look to make their fourth straight postseason. With career numbers of a .278/.356/.494/.851 slash line with 33 home runs and 109 runs batted in, Contreras is an All-Star in the making.
Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
Arenado has become the face of the Rockies franchise over the last few seasons. We like to call him tres. Why? During the last three seasons the 26-year-old has been a three-time All-Star, won three Gold Glove Awards, three Silver Slugger awards, three Fielding Bible awards, was named Wilson Defensive Player of the Year three consecutive times. He also led the NL in both home runs and RBI’s for both 2016 and 2017.
Arenado was the driving force behind last year’s Rockies squad that won a Wild Card spot and made their first playoff appearance since 2009. He’s a dark horse MVP candidate who’s showing no signs of stopping anytime soon. This year he’ll be looking to get back to the playoffs, possibly claim a division title, get another All-Star nod, and probably pick up some more awards along the way.
Time to play ball!
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