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2019 NL West

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

2019 NL West Breakout Candidates

2019 NL West
Walker Buehler had a great showing in the world series and is the top 2019 NL West breakout candidate. Who are the others on the list? (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

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. Starting with the AL East; who are the top breakout candidates to watch in 2019?

Walker Buehler – Starting Pitcher (Dodgers)

Watching Walker Buehler during the World Series made me a believer. The Red Sox couldn’t hit him all night. The former first round pick from Vanderbilt will use that performance as a kick start for the 2019 season. Beuhler was awesome as a rookie in 2018 going 8-5 with a 2.62 ERA. It’s a legit 2.62 because of his WHIP which fell below 1 (.961).

Buehler throws hard and makes bats miss (10 strikeouts per 9). Forget about just taking the next step. Buehler has perennial All-Star written all over him.

Luke Weaver – Starting Pitcher (Diamondbacks)

Luke Weaver has one pitch. If you can hit his fastball, you can hit Weaver. In three years, Weaver has a 4.97 ERA. He’s also striking out 9.2 batters per 9. This is all about getting Weaver a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th pitch. I have no idea if it’s ever going to happen but if it does, Weaver can become an elite pitcher.

The Diamondbacks believe that will be the case. They gave up Paul Goldschmidt to get Weaver. Now that he’s in a new system, I would think that Arizona is doing everything they can utilize more pitches.

David Dahl – Right Fielder (Rockies)

David Dahl has been laying in the weeds in Colorado as a bench piece but now will likely get a chance to start. The former first round pick has been a good hitter thus far hitting .293 in 471 at bats. Dahl is a bad defender but he can hit. With regular playing time, what if Dahl hits .300 with 30 bombs? The Rockies quietly have a pretty nice core.

2019 NL West
Manuel Margot needs to get on base more but the tools are there. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America)

Manuel Margot – Centerfielder (Padres)

Manuel Margot came to San Diego as the main piece in the Craig Kimbrel trade. The former Red Sox farmhand has just been okay with the Friars so far. Margot is a .254 hitter with really limited power. This is all about getting on base more. Can’t be a top of the lineup bat with just a .300 OBP. Margot has good speed but needs to figure out a way to get on first. It’s kind of similar to Billy Hamilton. Maybe that never happens.

Tyler Beede – Starting Pitcher (Giants)

The Giants suck. I didn’t like any of the options. They don’t have a single young player that jumped out to me. I’ll go with Tyler Beede. He’s a former first round pick. That’s all I have. San Francisco has a ton of work to do.

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