RHP, Adonys Cardona: One of the truly electric arms in the entire organization, this Venezuelan native has some of the best stuff around, including a mid-90s fastball and two secondary pitches with plus potential. However, the pitch-ability still hasn't come around like many had hoped and now his control is beginning to suffer as his confidence wanes.
It doesn't matter how good the stuff is, if you don't pitch consistently ahead in counts then you're not going to fare well at any level and the now 19-year old is learning that lesson the hard way. He still has time to get back to being one of the top pitching prospects again, but he needs a breakout season outside of the rookie ball level to quickly resurrect what had seemed to be a coming out party a little more than a year ago.
1B, Art Charles: Massive size and prodigious power are the best terms to describe the 6-foot-6 slugger. Always considered more of a project who could pay some serious long-term dividends, to be fair the left-handed hitter has shown some progress with cutting down his strikeouts and increasing his walks.
However, the progress has been more on the slow side than on the steady end of things and the now 22-year old still hasn't made it into the long-season leagues yet. Throw in fact that while the peripherals have gotten better with the approach, his lower batting average keeps getting lower each season. The minor leagues are not all about the numbers but it's time for Charles to become a more consistent hitter and get his confidence going, because should that happen he could really be an impact hitter.
OF, Michael Crouse: The 2008 16th round pick has some really exciting tools and can do a lot of things on a baseball field, especially with his great speed and power combination. However, now about to enter his sixth professional season a year after hitting below the dreaded Mendoza line, he needs a breakout season in the worst way.
He hit just a combined .199 between low-A Lansing and high-A Dunedin a year ago, a year in which saw him demoted a level down from where he started. Always a lower contact guy, the real problem is his power and speed production are also slipping downward too. He is still just 22 years old but more so than most he needs a big bounce-back season in 2013.
OF, Marcus Knecht: Like Crouse, Knecht is a Canadian native who shows some real long-term impact potential but has hit a crossroads in his career at the high-A level. The 2010 third round pick hit just .210 with the Dunedin Blue Jays in 2012 and had periods of long stretches where he looked like he was just guessing at the plate.
Also like Crouse, Knecht is still only 22 years old and still has time to turn things around, but more than the slipping production is his declining confidence that is worrisome. He needs to get back into an offensive rhythm because he has shown he has the patience, the power, and the overall game to be a very good player when he's going right.
OF, Dalton Pompey: The 2010 16th round pick is another high-ceiling talent who brings all five tools to the table. The switch-hitter spent his first two seasons honing his overall offensive game though, working on his plate discipline and swings mechanics from both sides of the plate, and then fell victim to a broken hamate bone in his hand which kept him out of action until the tail-end of the 2012 season.
As improbable as it may seem, he just turned 20 years old this past December so he's not exactly in as dire a need for a breakout as some others. However, he's about to enter his fourth minor league season and it's time for him to make some hay at the low-A level, put up some numbers, and begin to become the high-end impact prospect many team officials believe he can be.
Five Needing Breakout Seasons
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