As Major League clubs begin to narrow down their rosters in the final days of spring training, each organization has identified a top prospect that missed the entire season or may have had a brief look in “The Show”, but could make an impact this season.
Here are the potential breakout players for teams in the American League Central:
Chicago White Sox
Michael Kopech could be a difference-maker after missing the 2019 season recovering from Tommy John and opting out of 2020, and Andrew Vaughn might make waves if he makes the roster, but the speedy Madrigal is likely to have a bigger impact on a daily basis.
The 24-year-old second baseman hit .340 in 103 at-bats last season before undergoing shoulder surgery and will start at the bottom of the Sox powerful lineup, but could move up to the top of the order if he continues to hit for a high average.
Acquired from the Mets along with Amed Rosario in the Francisco Lindor deal, Gimenez is excellent defensively, with good speed and got an extended look in New York last season. The 21-year-old beat out Rosario for the starting job and will be the Opening Day shortstop in Cleveland.
The rebuilding Tigers are going young with 23-year-old Casey Mize and Skubal making their rotation. The 24-year-old lefty throws in the upper-90’s and had impressive strike-out numbers coming up through the minors that translated to the majors last season.
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Kansas City Royals
The big lefty made the jump from Single-A to the majors in 2020. The 23-year-old has a fastball, changeup, and curveball and went 1-6, with a 4.32 ERA in 10 games for the rebuilding Royals and will be in their starting five this season.
The 23-year-old outfielder spent last season in the Twins minor league camp, but was called up for the playoffs and started in one game against Houston. A left-handed hitter with a power stroke, Kirilloff hit .348 in A ball but his numbers dropped in Double-A to .283 because of a wrist injury. Sent down to start the year, the Twins could see him as the eventual replacement for light-hitting Jake Cave.