The 2018 Major League Baseball season is almost upon us, and that means it is time for some “Players to Watch” lists to start the season. Here, we take a look at rookie pitchers to keep on your radar, as they prepare for their Major League debut. Most baseball fans alreadyt know about Shohei Ohtani from Japan, as he signed with the Angels, so we will leave him off this list.
Michael Kopech/RHP/White Sox- Kopech came over from the Red Sox in the Chris Sale mega-deal and has continued his track towards the Major Leagues. He really improved the second half of the season last year, and he will make his debut at some point 2018. Kopech has top of the rotation potential, and if he lives up to that potential, the White Sox have their ace.
Walker Buehler/RHP/Dodgers- Buehler made his debut late last season, pitching in eight games out of the Dodgers bullpen. He is a starter though, and a front line one at that. He has a fastball that can touch three digits on the radar gun with a violent curve ball and plus slider to compliment. Buehler has ace and perennial All-Star written all over him.
Brent Honeywell/RHP/Rays- It is no secret that the Rays have entered a rebuilding stage. They made a lot of moves this off-season, unloading the likes of Jake Odorizzi and Evan Longoria for prospects. Their rebuild though, especially on the mound, starts with this man. Honeywell has a fastball in the low 90’s and has a bevy of off-speed pitches. His calling card is mechanics and control. Think Greg Maddux here.
Luiz Gohara/LHP/Braves- Gohara started his career in the Mariners system and the Braves traded for him back in January. Gohara throws 97 on the radar gun with a wipe out slider. Left-handed pitchers that can do that don’t grow on trees. If he can get just a little more command, the Braves have their next ace.
Max Fried/LHP/Braves- Most teams are blessed to have one top of the line left-handed pitching prospect. The Braves have two. Fried doesn’t light up the radar gun, but he’s got great command and a plus curve ball. His ceiling is a number two starter, so the plan is he will be Gohara’s sidekick at some point in the future.
Stephen Gonsalves/LHP/Twins- It seems like we have heard about Gonsalvesfor a long time now, but he is still just 23 years of age to begin this season. Much like Fried, he doesn’t light up the radar gun, but he has good control over a variety of pitches. He will never be a number one starter, but he sill has “middleof the rotation” potential.