30 emerging players primed for big futures

September 14th, 2020

For all the talk about how short this season has been, there has been plenty that every team has learned about itself. And one of the key things any team can learn: Who is in this for the long haul?

So, today at the Thirty, we take a look at the player on each team whose positive 2020 season has helped establish himself as a vital member of his team moving forward. Who has emerged this season?


Blue Jays -- Teoscar Hernandez, OF

Under club control: Through 2023

The Jays had to send him down for a while in 2019 to straighten out his swing, and the improvement he showed down the stretch last year has more than carried over to this season. He’s currently on the IL with an oblique strain, but on a rate basis it has been him -- not Bo Bichette, not Vlad Jr., not Cavan Biggio -- who has been the best hitter on the team this year, by a wide margin.

Orioles -- Pedro Severino, C

Under club control: Through 2023

The Orioles have always had hope for Severino, but honestly, when you look at him right now this looks like a starting All-Star catcher, doesn’t it? And he’s only 27.

Rays -- Mike Brousseau, UTIL

Under club control: Through 2025

Considered a journeyman, barely-hanging-on guy heading into the year, he suddenly looks like these Rays' version of Ben Zobrist.

Red Sox -- Alex Verdugo, OF

Under club control: Through 2024

There hasn’t been much to be positive about at Fenway Park this year, but it turns out the return on the Mookie Betts trade looks like a player who indeed will be part of this outfield for years to come.

Yankees -- Clint Frazier, OF

Under club control: Through 2024

The Yankees always knew Frazier could hit, but the fielding was so bad they didn’t know if they could afford to keep him around. But now that he’s hitting like this, who cares what he does with his glove? Not to mention, he's made strides with his glove.


Indians -- Triston McKenzie, RHP

Under club control: Through 2026

Why were the Indians alright with trading Corey Kluber and, this year, Mike Clevinger? Maybe it’s because they had this Brooklyn native waiting, after missing all of last year, to elevate into an ace.

Royals -- Maikel Franco, 3B

Under club control: Through 2021

The Phillies ultimately got tired of waiting on him to come around, but he has found a home in Kansas City: He’s currently leading the American League in doubles.

Tigers -- Jeimer Candelario, 1B/3B

Under club control: Through 2023

Remember when the Tigers had to bring in a bunch of hitters because they supposedly didn’t have any on the roster? Candelario has shown more power than ever and is hitting far over .300.

Twins -- Tyler Clippard, RHP

Under club control: Through 2020

This is Clippard’s 14th year in the Majors, and the Twins are his 10th team since 2014. And he’s having the best year of his career right now, when the Twins most desperately need it.

White Sox -- Dylan Cease, RHP

Under club control: Through 2025

Cease seems very much to be following the Lucas Giolito model of having a miserable year in the Majors right before he emerges as a potential ace in the Majors.


Angels -- Dylan Bundy, RHP

Under club control: Through 2021

The Angels haven’t had a lot go right outside Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon, but Bundy finally becoming the pitcher the Orioles were waiting for him to become has been a pleasant surprise.

Astros -- Framber Valdez, LHP

Under club control: Through 2025

A middling reliever last year, he has emerged to be the team’s second-most reliable starter.

Athletics -- J.B. Wendelken, RHP

Under club control: Through 2024

He may sound like a villain in a children’s book, but Wendelken has been lights out in the bullpen this year, and key to the A’s run to first place.

Mariners -- Dylan Moore, UTIL

Under club control: Through 2024

Moore has rattled around throughout his short career, but take a look at his numbers: You realize he’d be on course for a 30-30 year in a full season, yes?

Rangers -- Rafael Montero, RHP

Under club control: Through 2022

Montero had been a disaster as a starter for the Mets a few years ago and never had a save in his career before this season … but now he’s one of the most consistent closers in the game? Weird.


Braves -- Travis d’Arnaud, C

Under club control: Through 2021

The onetime Mets catching prospect has found his ideal home in Atlanta, building off his 2019 success with the Rays to be one of the best-hitting catchers in baseball.

Marlins -- Miguel Rojas, SS

Under club control: Through 2021 (club option for ’22)

The Marlins signed him to a two-year deal before the season hoping he could be a veteran influence for their young players. It turns out that he’s their best hitter.

Mets -- Dominic Smith, 1B/LF

Under club control: Through 2024

Dom started to show last year that he was maturing and becoming close to the hitter the Mets wanted, but right now, he looks like he and Pete Alonso could be centerpieces of this lineup for years to come.

Phillies -- Alec Bohm, 3B

Under club control: Through 2026

The Phillies have been a different team since he got the callup, and he looks like he’ll be holding third base for a long time. Was he the missing ingredient here all along?

Nationals -- Trea Turner, SS

Under club control: Through 2022

It has been a bummer of a year for the Nationals, but one bright spot has been Turner transforming from a promising and solid, if inconsistent, everyday player into one of the best all-around players in the game.


Brewers -- Corbin Burnes, RHP

Under club control: Through 2024

People have been pestering the Brewers about getting a top-shelf starter for so long that they might have missed that they might have ended up developing one in-house.

Cardinals -- Alex Reyes, RHP

Under club control: Through 2023

Cardinals fans have been waiting forever for Reyes to be the shutdown pitcher they were promised. He’s not quite that yet, but he’s the most consistent and healthy he has been in his entire career.

Cubs -- Ian Happ, OF

Under club control: Through 2023

Because he showed up the year after the Cubs won the World Series, Happ has never quite been considered an inner-circle Cub, at least to those on the outside. But this year: He’s their best player and an MVP candidate. Do they need to talk extension soon?

Pirates -- Colin Moran, 3B

Under club control: Through 2023

It maybe isn’t the best sign that Moran is leading the Pirates in every offensive category, but this does seem to be his breakthrough season.

Reds -- Jesse Winker, OF

Under club control: Through 2023

All those big bats the Reds brought in over the offseason … and their best hitter turns out to be Jesse Winker. It’s a good thing: At times, Winker has carried the entire offense this year.


D-backs -- Christian Walker, 1B

Under club control: Through 2024

It has been tough from start to finish for the D-backs this year, but Walker definitely proved that 2019 was no fluke.

Dodgers -- Dylan Floro, RHP

Under club control: Through 2023

Essentially everyone on the Dodgers has been terrific this year, but Floro has been magnificent, yet another cog in a terrifying bullpen on a terrifying team.

Giants -- Wilmer Flores, 1B/2B

Under club control: Through 2021 (club option for ’22)

The Giants have a ton of players to choose from -- so many surprising hitters -- but we’ll go with Flores, who has turned into the most unlikely of power hitters.

Padres -- Jake Cronenworth, 2B

Under club control: Through 2025

The “other” guy in the Tommy Pham trade, Cronenworth looks like he’s going to be the Padres’ second baseman for a very long time.

Rockies -- Daniel Bard, RHP

Under club control: Through 2020

Who else? The remarkable story is more than just a moving narrative: He has been invaluable to a bullpen that has been a disaster the last few years.