By now, you probably know the parameters of the 2020 MLB season. It will be a mere 60 games long. It will feature expanded rosters in the early going. And it will include other notable tweaks such as the universal designated hitter, geographically limited schedules and a runner automatically placed on second base in extra innings.
Here's something else we'll see once baseball resumes: a number of breakout players.
By that we mean either:
Anything can happen in such a brief campaign, and young players who struggle initially may be kept on a shorter-than-usual leash. Plus, service-time shenanigans are always a possibility.
That said, here are 30 up-and-comers (one per club) with the skills and opportunity to leave a significant mark over the 60-game sprint.
Rookies with little to no big league experience who earn a job, get hot and stay hot.
Guys who've compiled legitimate stats at the highest level but are poised to make the leap to superstardom.
American League East
Baltimore Orioles: OF Austin Hays
There won't be many bright spots in 2020 for the Baltimore Orioles, who are ticketed for another last-place finish in the American League East. But keep an eye on outfielder Austin Hays. The 24-year-old missed the entire 2018 season after undergoing ankle surgery, yet returned in 2019 and slashed .309/.373/.574 in 68 at-bats. He should be in Baltimore's Opening Day lineup.
Boston Red Sox: OF Alex Verdugo
The key return piece in the trade that sent Mookie Betts from the Boston Red Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Alex Verdugo could blossom into a star in Beantown. The 24-year-old hit .294 with an .817 OPS in 106 games for L.A. in 2019. He should be the Red Sox's starting right fielder and, they hope, Betts' heir apparent.
New York Yankees: 1B Mike Ford
First baseman Mike Ford played 50 games with the New York Yankees in 2019 and swatted 12 home runs with a .909 OPS. In 79 games at Triple-A, the 27-year-old hit 23 homers with a 1.007 OPS. With expanded rosters early in the season, he'll have every opportunity to make the big club and could earn extensive playing time if injuries again bite New York and/or Ford forces his way into the mix with his bat.
Tampa Bay Rays: LHP/DH Brendan McKay
Brendan McKay posted a less-than-stellar 5.14 ERA in 49 innings last season with the Tampa Bay Rays. But the 24-year-old lefty showed flashes of the talent that made the Rays take him with the fourth overall pick in the 2017 draft. A potential two-way player, McKay averaged 10.3 K/9 as a pitcher and collected two hits in 11 at-bats with a home run.
Toronto Blue Jays: 3B/DH Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will share the Toronto Blue Jays infield with two other second-generation big leaguers who could be 2020 breakouts: shortstop Bo Bichette and second baseman Cavan Biggio. The future is bright north of the border. But we'll highlight the 21-year-old son of Vlad, who teased his big-time power with 15 home runs in 123 games last season, yet was limited by a late-season knee injury.