Cover Photo: Getty Images
Every MLB season comes equipped with a select group of players that have breakout years. The game is loaded with young talent, and it seems like each year there is a group that takes the next step in their progression. In 2018, we saw a combined 25 first-time All-Star selections between the two squads, which makes up nearly half of the total All-Star selections.
Let's take a look at five MLB players that could break out in 2019 and make their first MLB All-Star Game appearance.
5. Austin Meadows, LF, Tampa Bay Rays
It took Meadows a bit longer to succeed at the MLB level than expected, but the 23-year-old outfielder ended up having a great 2018 season. He played only 59 games between his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Rays, but he slashed .287/.325/.461 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) and showed signs that his power was increasing at the plate. Look for Meadows to capitalize on his first full season in the MLB and represent his new team in the 2019 All-Star Game.
4. Manuel Margot, CF, San Diego Padres
Manuel Margot has been a highly-touted young talent in the Padres system since he made his debut back in 2016. Margot has shown flashes of All-Star greatness at the plate, while consistently playing excellent defense in the spacious San Diego centerfield. In 277 career games, Margot has hit only 21 home runs and driven in 93 RBI, while slashing .254/.300/.397. Not to mention there should be quite a few more eyes on the Padres in 2019 after signing Manny Machado.
3. Rafael Devers, 3B, Boston Red Sox
Rafael Devers was a key young contributor to the 2018 Red Sox World Series campaign. Devers debuted at third base for the Red Sox in 2017 and contributed right away, slashing .284/.338/.482 and totaling 10 home runs and 30 RBI in just 58 games. Devers did regress across the board in 2018 though, putting up .240/.298/.433 and only 21 home runs and 66 RBI in 121 games. However, he did step up the 2018 postseason, slashing .294/.351/.382 with one home run and nine RBI. Look for Devers to carry his postseason momentum into 2019 and make his first MLB All-Star appearance.
2. Steven Matz, LHP, New York Mets
There was a ton of excitement surrounding Steven Matz when he was called up in 2015. He joined a young and talented Mets rotation and was 4-0 in his first six MLB starts, with a 2.27 earned run average (ERA) and 34 strikeouts (SO) in just 35.2 innings pitched. However, Matz has managed only 65 total starts since this six-game opening stretch in 2015, but he has shown flashes of talent that are simply undeniable. Last season, his 30 starts were by far the most of his career, so hopefully his body will adjust to the load and he can take the next step in 2019.
1. Walker Buehler, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
The 24-year-old Buehler was dynamic down the stretch for the Dodgers during their World Series run last season. Buehler help keep LA's injury-laden rotation together during that time, as he recorded an 8-5 record with a 2.62 ERA and averaged a ridiculous 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings. If Buehler can bounce back from his up-and-down 2018 postseason performance, there is no reason to believe he won't be in contention for his first All-Star selection this summer.
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