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Which Angels players are poised to have a breakout season in 2017?

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Predicting breakouts is a bit like playing the lottery, but let’s make our best guesses here...

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Angels Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There are players on the current roster who are well beyond the definition of a breakout season (Mike Trout anyone?), but there are certainly others on the 40-man roster who could be poised for something special this season. I’ll try to tackle who that could be, along with the likelihood (high, medium, low).

Cam Bedrosian

Bedrosian perhaps had his breakout season in 2016, but it was cut short due to injury and he did have a few things to work out despite an incredibly low 1.12 ERA and team high K%. 2016 will be about breaking out in general and could be his shot at being not just the best reliever on the Angels, but one of the best bullpen pieces in the league. Last year was Bedrock’s 3rd year and he finally impressed enough to stick on the big league roster where he should be for all of 2017. Bedrosian is predicted to throw about 65 innings (a career high). Previously, he had logged 33 and 40 innings during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. His main issue in 2016 was his 44% inherited runner score rate which was 13 points above league average. If he pitches clean innings this season, he could be even more impressive. It will be hard to top a 1.12 ERA, but something in the 2’s is reasonable, as is 60+ Ks

Breakout Likelihood: High

C.J Cron

Cron is another guy like Bedrosian who had a good 2016 season but fell a bit short of his potential. In his 3rd big league season, he has yet to play in more than 116 games or log much more than 400 at bats. This 2011 1st round pick (if he stays healthy), could hit .270 with 25 homeruns in 2017. Cron is 27 years old and entering his prime years, so it’s not an unrealistic projection, especially considering he’s been progressively getting better the past 3 years. Cron’s defense is improving as well and we could see a 2-3 WAR season from him.

Breakout Likelihood: High

Tyler Skaggs

The Angels have been waiting on Skaggs since they drafted him as the 40th overall pick in the 2009 draft. His moment to shine came in 2014 until TJ surgery ended his debut season. Skaggs didn’t pitch again for the Angels until the end of July this past season and 2016 was all about regaining his confidence. He had a career high walk rate in 2016 and a decent 4.17 ERA. By all accounts, Skaggs seems poised to have a great year in 2017 and finally live up to his potential as a #2 or #3 type starter.

Breakout Likelihood: High

Jefry Marte

Marte is only 25 years old and entering his second big league season. The only problem is that he doesn’t have anywhere to play in the field. He’s blocked at first by Cron and Pujols and his primary position is taken up by Yunel Escobar. He played left field a bit last year but that spot has also been filled. Marte’s best shot at playing time will come on rest days from Pujols, Cron, or Escobar. It’s really too bad, because in 2016 he showed some great potential and had a 1.5 WAR despite only 284 plate appearances. Marte has 30 home run potential but we probably won’t see it this year. His best shot at a breakout season is if someone gets hurt or traded at one of the corners.

Breakout Likelihood: Medium

Alex Meyer

Meyer, a top 20 prospect, will get to start in 2017, the question is: when. That answer will determine how much of a chance he has to shine. Meyer was a 1st round pick in 2011, but Eppler snagged him from the Twins last year. One of his main problems has been control (6.4 BB/9 in 28 innings big league innings), but if he can work that out to a respectable number and have better command, we can see some good stuff from him. Meyer’s plus plus fastball and plus slider can turn him into middle of the rotation starter if he gets the chance, but the other question that remains is how much will he pitch in 2017?

Breakout Likelihood: Medium

Carlos Perez

Perez lost his starer job to Jett Bandy in 2016 and when Bandy was traded, Perez potentially lost it again to Martin Maldanado. Perez put up an impressive 1.0 WAR in his first pro season in 2015 but he fell backwards in 2016 with a 0.0 WAR and a barely over the Mendoza line .209 average. His main problem offensively was weak hit balls but that started to improve and his second half of the year was definitely better than the first. Statcast data showed Perez as having the lowest average exit velocity off his bat than any position player outside of Shane Robinson, Craig Gentry, and Todd Cunningham. Perez’s best asset is his defense, and that along with pitch framing DID improve from 2015 to 2016, but I’m not sure we’ll see a huge leap or breakout type season in 2017.

Breakout Likelihood: Low

Kaleb Cowart

Cowart and Marte are both about the same age and if I had to bet on a third baseman for the next few years, it would be Marte. Cowart is a superior defender but has struggled to make a big league impact at the plate. In 65 games he has a career .176 AVG with a 30% K rate. It’s unclear how much playing time he will get this year, but this 2010 1st round pick may be living on borrowed time soon if he can’t figure it out at the plate in his next call-up.

Breakout Likelihood: Low

Nate Smith

Smith is the highest ranked prospect in this article, and someone like Meyer who should see some big league starts in 2017 at some point. He probably doesn’t have a future as a top or middle of the rotation starter due to not really having a plus pitch, but he does have a good combination of pitches he can throw. Smith had a 2.48 ERA in AA that jumped to 4.61 in Salt Lake, but that’s not too bad of an ERA for a very hitter friendly league. Smith isn’t an over powering strikeout pitcher but he also doesn’t walk a lot of batters either. Given enough starts, he could make an impact some time this season.

Breakout Likelihood: Low