Originally posted on Reds Minor Leagues  |  Last updated 4/5/13
I had actually meant to write this article for yesterday, but things got in the way of that happening so it got pushed to today. Positional Player Breakout Predictions When looking at guys who could potentially break out, I look at a lot of things and pick players for different reasons at times. My first pick already had a bit of a breakout season last year, but it went largely unnoticed because it came in the California League. I think that Travis Mattair could take another step forward in 2013. He sat out 2010 to try college basketball out before returning in 2011 to professional baseball. Sitting out a season led to him missing some developmental time and he really showed improvements across the board in 2012. The former 2nd rounder has good tools to work with on both sides of the ball and I think the improvements he showed last year were just the first step to learning how to use all of the tools that made him a second rounder when he was drafted. The next guy I think could really take that next step forward is Kyle Waldrop. In 2011, he hit for a lot of power in Billings, but his plate discipline was really poor. Then in 2012 with Dayton his power dropped off, but his plate discipline took a big step forward. If he is able to put both of those things together and mix it in with spending time in the California League, he could really put together a strong season. Pitching Breakout Predictions Calling for a 19-year-old to break out seems a little crazy given that a guy that age hasn’t had much time to even get going, but Sal Romano posted a 5.32 ERA last season in Billings and I feel he is primed to post a much better ERA than that and that he could improve his peripherals as well. A tall pitcher who is still honing in his stuff could improve quickly if he can repeat his mechanics a little more often than he did in the past along with the expected improvements in his pitches as a young guy. It was tough to pick another guy here, as the guys I really thought about aren’t playing in full season ball yet. But I do want to mention both Kyle Lotzkar and Josh Ravin out of the Pensacola bullpen. Lotzkar is a well known prospect, but his move to the bullpen could be real interesting. As a starter he could touch 95 with a good breaking ball. While the biggest question will be how his arm, which has been through a lot in his career, reacts to the usage from the bullpen role, his already good stuff could really play up out of the bullpen and also help lower his walk rate with shorter outings. Josh Ravin made the transition to the bullpen in 2012, but he battled several injuries and stints on the DL last season and never got into a groove. The stuff is there with a fastball clocked as high as 101 MPH and in the Arizona Fall League last season he showed a low walk rate and a good strikeout rate. He struggled in the spring with the big league club, but that was still just spring training. If he can build on what he did in Arizona last fall and show reasonable control, he could be a huge asset for the Reds.
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