Blake Snell may be the solution to the Rays starting pitching woes. In a tryout spot-start on April 23 he impressed in 5 IP, allowing only 2 hits and 1 run while striking out 6 batters. His minor league pedigree and top prospect status are based on his deceptive fastball and above-average four pitch arsenal. At this point the only things holding Snell back are the Super Two deadline and a walk rate that he will continue to work on. The Rays were able to get away with a 4 man rotation for the first quarter of the season, but as June nears they will require reinforcements if they hope to compete into the fall. Once Blake Snell is promoted, he can help them compete by fortifying the rotation with his high strikeout rate thanks to his late moving fastball. In a year where the Yankees and the Blue Jays have underperformed, look for the Rays to close the gap between them and the Red Sox as their starting pitching positively regresses to their true talent levels, joined by the super prospect Snell.
Once concerns over the Super Two deadline pass and A.J. Reed is called up, his special blend of power and patience will allow the Astros to improve the first base situation by not only adding Reed at first, but possibly shifting Tyler White to the DH/PH role, where he can look to improve on the poor results of other lighter-hitting teammates. Reed has seen his stats decrease in AAA, but nothing seems to indicate that he is being overpowered, but rather that he is getting unlucky. When the line drives start to drop in for hits again, expect Reed to heat up and take his advanced approach to the major leagues
José Berríos’s high-strikeout style operates well in the AL Central, however, by preventing the ball from being put into play. With an aggressive, controlled approach, Berríos can make an immediate impact on the Minnesota rotation in 2016 by challenging and overpowering hitters. This will be a nice reprieve for Minnesota fans, who will have to endure the more subdued approach the rest of the Twin rotation employs.
While young prospect Tim Anderson is untested and unproven, his dangerous speed, both with the bat and on the basepaths, may offer a solution to the anemic production from the Chicago White Sox shortstop position. Anderson will find himself under the fantastic tutelage of Jimmy Rollins, who has been a mainstay at the position for the past 17 seasons. Should Anderson be able to improve his plate discipline and defense, two of Rollins’s excellences, he could become a bona fide top-of-the-lineup hitter, with solid defense at a valuable position to boot.
Lefty Sean Manaea looks to make an impact in the Oakland Athletics rotation in 2016 with his powerful fastball and slider combo. His high strikeout rate throughout the minors signals that he has the stuff to overpower opposing batters, and if he is able to make improvements to his control, his rookie season looks to have promise. Manaea originally made it to the bigs on his own talent and merit. But, the fact that Oakland’s other rotation options have not panned out well so far provides Manaea with an extended opportunity to test his mettle at the highest level of competition.