Heading into the coming season, many teams possess position players and pitchers who are primed to have breakout seasons and contribute significantly to the overall success of their team. Here are five young pitchers, all of whom spent some time at the major league level last season, that should have a breakout year in 2017.
1. Alex Reyes (St. Louis Cardinals) - 22-year old, Alex Reyes, is a starting pitcher with a lot of upside and is expected to be a significant piece in the Cardinals plans moving forward. The right-hander posted a 1.57 ERA in 46.0 IP at the big league level last season after getting called up around the middle of August. In that span, he recorded 52 strikeouts, had a WHIP of 1.22, and only surrendered 1 home run. If that isn't enough, Reyes was named a MILB Organization All-Star in 2014 and 2015, won the Rising Stars Award during the Arizona Fall League in 2015, and has several other awards under his name. Reyes will likely break camp and be a permanent fixture within the Cardinals rotation in 2017 to provide some extra assurance in a rotation full of question marks.
2. Jameson Taillon (Pittsburgh Pirates) - Assuming he isn't traded before the start of the season in a package for someone like Jose Quintana, it appears that Taillon will once again play a significant role in the Pirates rotation next season. Currently, he is slated to fit into the rotation behind Gerrit Cole and had a good amount of success last year putting up a 3.38 ERA in 104.0 IP even after missing some time with right shoulder fatigue at the beginning of July. In addition to having success at the major league level last season, Taillon also put together a nice track record down in the minors recording a 3.49 ERA in 443.2 IP with 417 strikeouts, while giving up 30 home runs, 118 walks, and having a cumulative career WHIP of 1.16. Taillon should once again impact the Pirates rotation in a tremendous way and give them a much needed boost to go along with Gerrit Cole in the pitching department.
3. Dylan Bundy (Baltimore Orioles) - Bundy, who just turned 24 in November, is yet another pitcher set up to have success in 2017 and play a role in the success of the Orioles. Currently, Bundy is slated to pitch in the three hole behind Chris Tillman and Kevin Gausman. Last season, Bundy pitched to the tune of a 4.02 ERA in 109.2 IP, which was a nice bounceback, considering he was put on the 60-day DL in September of 2015 due to a right shoulder strain. If Bundy's minor league record is anything to base a notion off of, he should do quite well this coming season. In fact, Bundy never pitched in Triple-A before getting a call up to the big leagues and posted a 2.59 ERA in 167.0 IP with 4 different teams throughout the Orioles organization. During that time, Bundy had a ground out/air out ratio of 0.94, a 1.05 WHIP, and recorded 181 strikeouts, while surrendering 6 home runs and 49 walks.
4. Jharel Cotton (Oakland Athletics) - 24-year old, Jharel Cotton, was acquired last July in a trade package when the Athletics traded outfielder, Josh Reddick, and starting pitcher, Rich Hill, to the Los Angeles Dodgers. After being acquired and getting a major league callup last September, Cotton went on to post a 2.15 ERA in 29.1 IP. Granted, it is a small sample size for Cotton, but based on his minor league success, he should give quite a bit of stability to an Athletics rotation that is still trying to sort itself out. From 2012-2016, Cotton put up a 3.68 ERA in 447.0 IP with 7 different minor league teams with 499 strikeouts and a 1.11 WHIP, while giving up 47 home runs and 130 walks. Besides his impressive minor league numbers, Cotton was also represented the Los Angeles Dodgers at last year's Futures Game and was named Pitcher of the Week in Triple-A Oklahoma City on May 29th. Cotton will be an important building block for the Athletics franchise and looks to have an impact on the success of the team not only next year, but for the next several seasons.
5. Robert Gsellman (New York Mets) - Gsellman, who is only 23 years old, is a pitcher with a lot of upside among an already impressive Mets starting rotation that includes: Thor (Noah Syndergaard), The deGrominator (Jacob deGrom), The Dark Knight (Matt Harvey), Steven Matz, Seth Lugo, and Zach Wheeler. Last season, Gsellman got called up from Triple-A Las Vegas in August and had immediate success ending the year with a 2.42 ERA in 44.2 IP. In addition to having immediate success at the major league level, Gsellman also had a solid track record of success down in the minor leagues dating back to 2011. He posted a 3.10 ERA in 539.1 IP during those 6 seasons, but dealt with periods of injuries such as during May 2014, when he missed time due to a hamstring strain, and last year when he was placed on the 7-day DL twice with the Binghamton Mets and Las Vegas 51's. Heading into 2017, Gsellman is primed to have a great year and should be a name to watch as the Mets once again try to capitalize on their window to win now and make a postseason push.