Top Breakout Candidates From All 30 MLB Teams

Here at Just Baseball, we've broken down the top breakout candidates from all 30 MLB teams. Here's the complete list of names.

CLEVELAND, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 27, 2023: Elly De La Cruz #44 of the Cincinnati Reds bats during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field on September 27, 2023 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by George Kubas/Diamond Images via Getty Images)

There is no story better to follow during the season than watching a player enjoy his breakout season. To see a newfound star emerge for your favorite team is one of the most exciting things that can happen to a fan base.

Each year, we watch players burst onto the scene and make a name for themselves as rookies, like Corbin Carroll, Gunnar Henderson, Triston Casas and Kodai Senga last year. But breakout success is not just reserved for rookies.

Last season, we also saw players who have already been in the big leagues, like Bobby Witt Jr., William Contreras, Luis Robert and Adolis Garcia took massive steps to go from being solid big leaguers to All-Star caliber players. Those are the breakout successes that really standout over time, because they take you by surprise more than the top prospect who delivers right away.

Over the last month, our staff at Just Baseball has been canvassing the league to find the best breakout candidates for each team in every division in baseball. Let’s dive in and see who could breakout in a big way during the 2024 season!

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For a full breakdown of each player listed, click the link for each division below.

American League East Breakout Candidates

The American League East is set to be a bloodbath once again, with the Baltimore Orioles returning as one of the best young teams in the game, the New York Yankees adding Juan Soto, and the Rays and Blue Jays both being perennial contenders as well.

Every team in this division features a collection of young players who could be primed to breakout in a big way this year. Here are the one’s featured in our AL East Breakout Candidates for 2024.

Grayson Rodriguez, Baltimore Orioles

Heading into his second big league season, Grayson Rodriguez is a prime candidate to explode for the Orioles this season. He finished last year with an outstanding 2.58 ERA in his final 13 starts and has some of the best pure stuff in the game.

If Rodriguez can keep making adjustments as the league adjusts to him in his second tour of duty, there is every chance he realizes his ace potential next to Corbin Burnes this season.

Ryan Pepiot, Tampa Bay Rays

Acquired by the Tampa Bay Rays in the trade that sent Tyler Glasnow to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Pepiot finally has the opportunity he never received with the Dodgers. A chance to be a full-time member of a starting rotation in the big leagues.

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So far, Pepiot has found success when pitching in the big leagues, as he currently features a 2.76 ERA across his first few seasons. Now will be the ultimate test to see if he can sustain that while taking the ball on a consistent basis.

Davis Schneider, Toronto Blue Jays

It is hard to be better at making a first impression than Davis Schneider was last year, when he showed up to the big leagues and immediately posted a 176 wRC+ in 35 games with an OPS that was just over 1.000.

Now looking to do it over a full 162, Schneider’s numbers are naturally going to come back down to earth, but he’s still expected to play a big role for the Blue Jays in their infield mix.

Anthony Volpe, New York Yankees

Winning a Gold Glove and going 20-20 in your first full taste of MLB action is nothing to sneeze at, but Anthony Volpe’s rookie season was still a mixed bag. An OPS of .666, with a batting average that barely cracked the Mendoza line (.209) is far from the player Volpe ultimately expects to be.

The glove and base-stealing prowess give Volpe a high floor, but getting on-base more frequently is going to play a part in deciding just how good the Yankees starting shortstop can be.

Jarren Duran, Boston Red Sox

In some respects, you could call last season a breakout for Jarren Darren, who hit .295/.346/.482, with eight home runs, 24 stolen bases and a 120 wRC+. Yet Duran is featured on this list because he can take thing to yet another level, with the first step being healthy for a full 162 games.

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Duran hits the ball hard enough to tap into more power in games than just eight home runs in 106 games played, and his defense can certainly be better when you consider his speed and overall athleticism. There might still be a five-tool player in there somewhere with Duran, and this could be the season he finds it.

American League Central Breakout Candidates

A completely wide-open division, the American League Central features at least four teams who look to be vying for a playoff spot come Opening Day, with the Chicago White Sox being the one exception of a team that is more focused on a rebuild.

With so many young teams in this division, there are chances for breakouts across the board, but here are the top candidate on each team.

Royce Lewis, Minnesota Twins

Another player who enjoyed a mini breakout last season in 58 games, Royce Lewis has the chance to really establish himself as one of the best players in all of baseball this year. An OPS of .920, with 15 home runs in a little more than a third of the season, Lewis can become a bona fide superstar this year if he can stay on the field for a full 162.

Tarik Skubal, Detroit Tigers

Tarik Skubal established himself as the clear ace of the Detroit Tigers with 15 excellent starts last season where he pitched to a 2.80 ERA with 102 strikeouts in 80 1/3 innings pitched.

Now, Skubal is a Cy Young candidate, who should become widely-regarded as one of the best pitchers in the game with a big season in 2024. If he can stay on the mound and make 30 starts, the sky is the limit for this left-hander.

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Bo Naylor, Cleveland Guardians

Bo Naylor finished out the 2023 season very strong, as he lead the American League in OPS from August 19th through the end of the season. Long a top catching prospect in the game, Naylor has the chance to become a top catcher in the game with a breakout in 2024.

Cole Ragans, Kanas City Royals

Similar to Skubal, Cole Ragans made a name for himself last year and established himself as the ace for the Kansas City Royals with a strong finish to 2023. Ragans has an absolutely electric arm that can produce great strikeout numbers if he can remain consistent over his first full season in a rotation this year.

Andrew Vaughn, Chicago White Sox

The Chicago White Sox have long had high hopes for Andrew Vaughn as a slugger in the middle of their lineup. Last year, he hit 21 home runs, setting a career-high in 152 games played. Still, the White Sox hope he can be even better and turn into the type of slugger that can lead a lineup for stretches.

American League West Breakout Candidates

The last two World Series champions have come from this division and both the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers aren’t going anywhere any time soon. The Seattle Mariners remain in the hunt, while the Angels are trying to contend, even if it is unlikely without Shohei Ohtani.

Hunter Brown, Houston Astros

The Houston Astros got 29 starts and 155 2/3 innings pitched from Hunter Brown last year. Getting that many innings from a rookie starting pitcher is a great value. With that said, he pitched to an ERA just over 5.00. This could be the year to see Brown cut at least a run off that ERA, if not more, and establish himself as a really good starter for the middle of that Astros rotation.

Ezequiel Duran, Texas Rangers

Rookies were excluded from this exercise we did to identify top breakout players, otherwise one of Evan Carter or Wyatt Langford would have been the answer for the Rangers. Those two outfielders are expected to breakout in a massive way this year. With that said, Ezequiel Duran is an under-the-radar candidate to ascend in 2024.

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Duran will play an invaluable role as a super utility man for the Rangers this season, with the ability to play on the dirt and in the grass. The 24-year-old already showed great improvements from year one to year two last season and there is every chance he can become a 20+ home run guy in 2024.

Bryce Miller, Seattle Mariners

The Seattle Mariners really have two young breakout candidates to discuss, who will make the difference between the Mariners have a good rotation and having the best in all of baseball.

Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo enter year two with a chance to breakout in a big way, as they have great stuff and potential that is not yet fully realized. For Miller, this is especially true, as he has one of the best fastballs you are going to find on a starting pitcher.

Chase Silseth, Los Angeles Angels

The Los Angeles Angels did a lot to bolster their bullpen this offseason, but have a rotation that is going to need some growth from within if they want to contend for a Wild Card. Chase Silseth is a real wild card for them, as he has the arsenal to be a big league starting pitcher, but there is no guarantee he can put it all together. At least this year he should get his chance to do so.

Zack Gelof, Oakland Athletics

Zack Gelof enjoyed a fantastic rookie season last year, where he put himself on the map in Oakland by hitting .267/.337/.504, with 14 home runs, 14 stolen bases and a 133 wRC+. He produced all of that in less than half a season, with just 69 games played.

Now set for his first full tour of duty in the big leagues, there is clear 30-30 potential to dream on for an Athletics franchise that could desperately use a good on-field story.

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National League East Breakout Candidates

The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies are the two teams expected to make playoff runs from this division and some breakout candidates could help them in their path towards winning the World Series. Meanwhile the Mets, Marlins and Nationals are hoping to find stars they can build into the future with this season, who can also help them hang in the Wild Card mix.

Jarred Kelenic, Atlanta Braves

Once one of the top prospects in all of baseball, Jarred Kelenic now moves to his third organization of his professional career and the Atlanta Braves certainly hope third time’s the charm.

After struggling early in his career with injuries and inconsistency, Kelenic has the chance to reestablish himself on one of the best teams in baseball at just 24 years old.

With the ability to play a strong defense left field, and enough power and speed to boot, the Braves are sure to get value from him regardless. But what they were betting on when they made the trade was the upside that he can become a breakout star.

Johan Rojas, Philadelphia Phillies

In his rookie season, Johan Rojas showcased the ability to become a Gold Glove center fielder some day and shocked everyone by hitting .302 in 59 games. With that said, he was nearly an automatic out throughout the Phillies postseason run, showing a real hole in his game.

Now Rojas once again gets the chance to establish himself as the center fielder of the future for the Phillies. It is just a matter of if he will hit enough to warrant playing time every day.

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Eury Perez, Miami Marlins

Without Sandy Alcantara this season, the Miami Marlins have a hole to fill atop their starting rotation. While Jesus Luzardo is likely to take the ball on Opening Day, Eury Perez could certainly become the Marlins ace by season’s end.

Even after wearing down in September, where he pitched to an ERA over 5.00, Perez managed to finish his rookie season with a 3.15 ERA and 10.64 K/9. Still not 21 years old until next month, Perez is one of the most dynamic young starting pitchers in the game, who may just make his first of many All-Star appearances this season.

Brett Baty, New York Mets

Francisco Alvarez already enjoyed a breakout season for the Mets last year as a rookie, having already put his name on the map as a top 10 catcher in all of baseball. Fellow former top prospect Brett Baty did not enjoy nearly the same success last year for the Mets.

Still, Baty will be the starting third baseman this season, where he will be given every opportunity to establish himself as the future at that position for the Mets.

Stone Garrett, Washington Nationals

The Washington Nationals need some players to breakout as they continue along their rebuild and a prime candidate to do that this season is Stone Garrett. Across 116 games played in his first two big league seasons, Garrett has hit .271/.335/.477 with a 119 wRC+. Hopefully he can stay healthy this year and give the Nationals a full season to see his potential realized offensively.

National League Central Breakout Candidates

The National League Central is a wide-open division, where any of the five teams could conceivably put things together to make a run at a division title. One of the biggest differentiating factors will be which of these teams gets the biggest breakout performance from one of their young stars.

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Jordan Wicks, Chicago Cubs

Outside of signing Shota Imanaga, who essentially replaced Marcus Stroman, the Chicago Cubs have not done too much to bolster their starting rotation this offseason. What they are counting on is the emergence of some of their young pitchers to step up, with Jordan Wicks being at the forefront of that.

Wicks made seven starts down the stretch last year, where he fared well until a blowup start in his final outing that ballooned his season ERA to 4.41. The 24-year-old pitched to a sub 4.00 ERA in both stops between Double-A and Triple-A prior to his promotion and now will look to do the same over a full MLB season.

Elly De La Cruz, Cincinnati Reds

There is no player that Major League Baseball wants to break out more this year than Elly De La Cruz. The Cincinnati Reds shortstop is box office, drawing incredible buzz for the exciting brand of baseball that he plays.

The 22-year-old stole 35 bases in just 98 games played last year, and that was with a lackluster on-percentage of .300. He also struck out in 33.7% of this plate appearances. De La Cruz can be a five-tool superstar that is the face of Major League Baseball if he puts it all together. Now will be his first chance to do that for a full season.

DL Hall, Milwaukee Brewers

Still technically a rookie, we made an exception for DL Hall since this will be his third season getting time on a big league roster. Although it will be his first where he is going to crack an Opening Day rotation.

The Brewers bet on Hall when they made him one of the key pieces in their trade that sent Corbin Burnes to the Baltimore Orioles. Hall has the floor of being a great relief pitcher, which we saw for the Orioles last season. His ceiling though could still be one of the best left-handed starters in baseball.

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Henry Davis, Pittsburgh Pirates

With the injury to Endy Rodriguez, the Pittsburgh Pirates are asking Henry Davis to get back behind the dish and catch for them in 2023. Whether he can hold up at the position is a real question, but more than anything, the Pirates need Davis to hit.

Davis was the first overall pick back in the 2021 MLB Draft and could very well still live up to his potential with a breakout offensive season in 2023.

Jordan Walker, St. Louis Cardinals

Maybe the breakout candidate with the biggest upside in the NL Central, Jordan Walker could really hit his stride this year entering his age-22 season. As a rookie last year, Walker hit 16 home runs in 117 games played, but he certainly has the power to hit more as he gets more comfortable at the MLB level.

National League West Breakout Candidates

A division that feels all-but decided before Opening Day, the Los Angeles Dodgers are the heavy-favorites in the NL West. With that said, the Giants, Padres and the reigning NL Champion Arizona Diamondbacks all have the chance to make a run at the playoffs this year, especially if some of their young players enjoy breakout success.

Bobby Miller, Los Angeles Dodgers

There is a case to be made that Bobby Miller already enjoyed his breakout season, as he put up a respectable 3.76 ERA in 124 1/3 innings pitched in his rookie campaign. Entering his age-25 season, Miller is included on this list due to his incredibly high ceiling to be an even better pitcher now that he has some big league experience under his belt.

Brandon Pfaadt, Arizona Diamondbacks

If you simply look at Brandon Pfaadt’s regular season numbers, it would be hard to see a breakout star coming for the Diamondbacks. The rookie pitched to a 5.72 ERA across 96 innings pitched. But as most baseball fans remember, when the lights were the brightest, Pfaadt delivered.

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Across five postseason starts, Pfaadt pitched to a 3.27 ERA, playing a pivotal role in Arizona’s run to the World Series. The 25-year-old still has a lot to prove, but the potential is clearly there for him to be a quality big league starter.

Michael King, San Diego Padres

If Michael King did not put the spotlight on himself enough by pitching to a 2.75 ERA in 104 2/3 innings last year, getting traded as the headlining piece in a package for Juan Soto certainly has done the trick.

Expectations are sky-high for King this season, with the Padres expecting him to be their No. 3 starter behind Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove. If the pressure of being attached to Soto wasn’t enough, King also has the burden of essentially replacing reigning NL Cy Young winner Blake Snell in the Padres’ rotation.

Patrick Bailey, San Francisco Giants

A recent guest on the Just Baseball Show, Patrick Bailey is entering his second season catching for the San Francisco Giants. Bailey is an excellent defensive backstop, who posted an fWAR of 2.8 despite the fact that he hit just .233/.285/.359, with a 78 wRC+.

While the offensive upside might not be great, he can still improve by getting his walk rates more in line with what we saw in the minor leagues, which was about double the 5.9% walk rate he put up last year.

The value is always going to come from the glove though, and if Bailey catches more than the 97 games he caught last season, while being slightly better with the bat, he could easily by a four-win player in 2024.

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Ryan Feltner, Colorado Rockies

Comparing Ryan Feltner to some of the other breakout candidate arms from this division is hardly fair, but let’s grade on the curve that is the bottom-dweller Colorado Rockies.

Feltner dealt with a brutal injury from getting drilled in the head with a comebacker last year. This limited him to just 10 starts. Now healthy and ready for a full season, Feltner could finally establish himself as a rotation fixture in Colorado.