Five little known MLB players that you will be familiar with by season’s end
With the 2007 MLB season just under a month old, we are starting to get a feel for how the season might pan out. However, the season is long and full of uncertainties. Injuries to key players, hot or cold streaks, and the potential of the all important mid-season trade are all factors that can make or break a season.
One of the biggest question marks is the production a team will get from its young, unproven players. Every season players emerge seemingly from no where to become stars and household names. Last year, we saw such players as Francisco Liriano, Prince Fielder, and Robinson Cano have breakout years and play large roles on their respective teams.
This season will be no different in that a handful of previously unknown players will grab the spotlight as a result of their superb play. You may not know these players right now, but my guess is that you will become quite familiar with them by the season’s end.
Ian Kinsler, 2B, Texas Rangers – Kinsler is off to a hot start after a solid rookie season last year. Seven home runs in his first fourteen games have him sitting second to A-Rod for the lead in that category. Kinsler is exceeding all expectations up to this point and is not looking back. Don’t expect him to keep up the pace, but he should finish the season with some of the best numbers for any second baseman in baseball.
Josh Hamilton, CF, Cincinnati Reds – This may be a player you’ve heard of before, but you’re bound to hear much more about him as the season goes on. He’s a center fielder with such talent that the Reds moved Ken Griffey Jr. to right field to make room for Hamilton. In his first 30 at-bats this season, he belted five home runs and has a slugging percentage near .900. It seems as though the sky is the limit for this left-handed slugger.
Rich Hill, SP, Chicago Cubs – Hill is a southpaw whose strong finish in 2006 has carried over into 2007. In his three starts this season, Hill has only given up eight hits and one run over 22 innings. Not really an overpowering pitcher, the lefty changes speeds well and has had pinpoint accuracy to start this season. His 3-0 start has some wondering if he should be considered higher than the fourth starter in the Cubs’ rotation.
Akinori Iwamura, 3B, Tampa Bay Devil Rays – Iwamura is one of many talented young players that make up the Devil Rays’ roster this season. Thus far in his first Major League season, he has been impressive with his patience at the plate and solid play at the hot-corner. After receiving little pre-season recognition, Iwamura could be a threat to steal a few AL Rookie of the Year votes at the end of this season.
Joel Zumaya, RP, Detroit Tigers – If you love watching 100+ MPH fastballs, then this is the pitcher for you. Zumaya really brings the heat and has a fastball that has been clocked in at 104 MPH. With a 1.94 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 83 innings last season, Zumaya is currently playing set up man for veteran closer Todd Jones. If not this year, look for this guy to have some big years playing closer in the near future.