The 2018 Major League Baseball season is officially underway. With the new year comes a new influx of talent on the field. Some of these players are unknown to major league fans while others are players who bided their time and are finally ready to have breakout seasons. And with that in mind here is a division-by-division breakdown of the Latino peloteros you should pay attention to this season.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays
If ever the phrase “the son also rises” were appropriate this is it. The son of the 2018 Hall of Fame inductee is like his father in many ways. He hits for power, he plays with speed, and he’ll begin his career in Canada. Guerrero Jr. just turned 19 and he’s already reached the AA level in the Blue Jays minor league system. Since beginning his career in 2016 he has hit for an average of .300 or better at every level of the minors. He’s also maintained an on base percentage of .400 or better.
While he’s not an outfielder like his father, he’s just as fundamentally sound as the elder Guerrero. He’s also one of MLB’s top 10 prospects. This one is special folks, so don’t be surprised if you see him get some at-bats in Toronto later this year.
J.D. Martinez, Boston Red Sox
At 30-years-old Martinez has been around the block. After breaking in with the Houston Astros, finding his way with the Detroit Tigers, and becoming the final piece that guided the 2017 Arizona Diamondbacks to the postseason for the first time since 2011, Martinez has finally been rewarded for paying his dues.
During the off-season the Red Sox gave the Cuban-American a five-year, $110 million contract to not only keep the BoSox among the ranks of playoff contenders, but to also help them regain their championship ways. Joining a team that already has Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Hanley Ramirez, Martinez and the Red Sox are favored to repeat as division champions in 2018.
Eloy Jimenez, Chicago White Sox
As the White Sox continue their rebuilding process, the 21-year-old Jimenez continues to stand out as a future MLB star. Brought over in last year’s Jose Quintana trade with the Cubs, the Dominican Republic native never lost a step as he continues to smash home runs, make solid defensive plays, and skyrocket through the minor league ranks. Jimenez is a major reason why Baseball America ranks the White Sox as having a top 10 minor league system. He’ll begin this season at the AA level, but if he continues to destroy opposing pitching he could make his major league debut this summer.
Eddie Rosario, Minnesota Twins
The youth movement is underway in the Twin Cities. It’s a movement that helped guide the Twins last year to their first playoff berth since 2010. Rosario being an integral part of that run, as performed soundly with a slash line of .290/.328/.507/.836 with 27 home runs and 87 RBI’s. Entering his fourth major league season, the Twins are pushing for their first division crown since 2010 and they’ll need Rosario to continue to produce at a high level to achieve that goal.
Emilio Pagan, Oakland Athletics
Pagan reached two milestones in his young career in 2017; he was a member of Puerto Rico’s World Baseball Classic team, and he made his major league debut with the Seattle Mariners. In 34 games with Seattle last year Pagan finished with a 2-2 record, a 3.22 ERA and a WHIP of 0.93. He proved to be effective in small samples last year and now he’s ready to give his skillset a full season in Oakland. The A’s won’t be a contender this year but Pagan gives them solid hope for the future.