Matt Chapman
Matt Chapman has a chance to become one of the best players in the sport. Who else from the AL West has a chance to breakout in 2019? (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

Baseball is the one true sport that is always unpredictable. You can hit a line shot that results in an out and a bloop off the end of the bat that results in a hit. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles. Baseball is also a sport where prospects flop and pop from season to season. Prospect rankings are never reliable.

Before the start of the 2019 MLB Season, we’re going to go division by division to project which players have the best chance to break through and reach stardom. Next, we have the AL West; who are the top breakout candidates to watch in 2019?

Josh James – Starting Pitcher (Astros)

The Houston Astros need starting pitching depth. Charlie Morton signed with Tampa. Dallas Keuchel is still a free agent somehow. Lance McCullers is also out for the year with Tommy John. That’s a ton of innings the Astros have to make up. Josh James has as good of a chance as anyone to become a breakout star to eat some of those lost innings. James throws gas. It’s an easy 100 MPH.

James played a bullpen role last year and was lights out. He allowed just 6 earned runs in 23 innings with the big league club last year. James is going to miss some time with a quad injury but don’t be shocked if James becomes a good starter right away.

Jo Adell – Centerfielder (Angels)

The Angels suck. The whole point of this article was to write about guys who are already in the big leagues and have a chance to really improve into stars. Well, the Angels are Mike Trout and a bunch of guys who suck. I dove deep into the roster and plucked a 19 year old prospect. It’s cheating but I didn’t have a choice.

Adell reached AA in 2018 so I figured he has a shot to reach the bigs sometime this year. Adell is the highest rated prospect in the system by a country mile. Maybe he will flourish into a star just in time when Mike Trout leaves for Philly.

Mallex Smith – Centerfielder (Mariners)

Did anyone get more disrespected than Mallex Smith this offseason. Smith hit .296 for the Rays last year and was traded for a catcher who sucks. This was the best trade Jerry Dipoto made all year and he totally blew up the roster.

Smith is a really good player and gets treated like he is a nobody. Smith is a dynamic lead off guy who may turn into a real weapon. He also stole 40 bags in 2018. If Smith ever adds some power to his game, this is a top 5 centerfielder.

2019 AL West
The Mariners need Justus Sheffield to hit in order for the James Paxton deal to become a success (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)

Justus Sheffield – Starting Pitcher (Mariners)

Sheffield also comes to town as an offseason trade acquisition. Sheffield was dealt to the Mariners in the James Paxton trade. The concern out of Yankees camp was that Sheffield was never going to develop elite command. I got to see him first hand and Sheffield was great in the minors. A 2.56 ERA and 8.6 strikeouts per 9 in AAA is damn good. Sheffield is going to get a chance to start everyday with the big league club. He has a chance to be a good one.

Nomar Mazara – Right Fielder (Rangers)

Nomar Mazara, 23, has been in the league for 3 years and has been the same guy every year. He has hit 20 home runs 3 years in a row. .258 average and .320 on base is what he’s been. I think Mazara has more in the tank and still has room to grow. I think new management will help Mazara grow. Chris Woodward comes from the Dodgers with new information that has helped a lot of Dodger hitters in the past. It’s time for Mazara to take that leap.

Matt Chapman – 3rd Baseman (Athletics)

Matt Chapman has real star potential. Chapman won the gold glove in 2018 and is already an elite defender. 2019 should be the year where Chapman becomes a deadly bat. from 2017 to 2018, Chapman increased his average from .234 to .278. His home runs from 14 to 24. His OPS+ from 111 to 136. Now that Chapman is heading into year 3, he has the chance to become one of the best players in the sport period.