The 2023 MLB season is quickly approaching! Each team will be looking for their star players to step up, and help guide them to the World Series. Each team also has stars waiting to breakout and help in this quest, TWSN MLB analysts Marissa Myers and Matt Levine will be going through every team by division to give these players. With the National League and American League West Divisions done, it is time for the NL Central.
Chicago Cubs- Cody Bellinger, Outfielder
I know it’s a little weird to have a former National League MVP on a breakout player list but here we are. Since 2019, Bellinger hasn’t been the same player. However, I think he breaks out for Chicago this season. He is with a new team and has a fresh start. Bellinger is out of the bright lights of Los Angeles and all pressure is off him. He can just go back to the basics and play his game. If he does that, he could be in line for a nice payday next offseason.
Pittsburgh Pirates- Roansy Contreras, Pitcher
Contreras’ rookie season came with some learning curves, but overall, what he showed was massive potential heading forward. Contreras finished 2022 with a 5-5 record, 3.79 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, with 86 strikeouts. His slider was his specialty as he held opponents to a .163 average against it, but what he can do to truly lead to a breakout in 2023 is utilizing his curveball more. Contreras only threw a curveball 14.4% of the time, he got results with opponents hitting just a .212 average against it, but combining that with his fastball could produce increased results this season.
St. Louis Cardinals- Brendan Donovan, Infielder
Donovan is an extremely unique player that can seemingly play anywhere. This was highlighted with 38 games at second base, 27 in the outfield, 31 at third base, 16 as a designated hitter, seven at shortstop, and 16 at first base. Over his 468 plate appearances, he also had a slash line of .281/.394/.379. Donovan was extremely patient as well for a rookie, chasing on pitches only 23% of the time, showing discipline to force pitchers to throw strikes where he capitalized on this and turned it into an advantage. He did have the fifth-highest ground-out rate of 52.8%, if he can improve on that and his exit velocity he could really improve in his second year.
Cincinnati Reds- Hunter Greene, Pitcher
Milwaukee Brewers- Garrett Mitchell, Outfield
Mitchell was called up to the Major League in late August, and when he did get called up, he provided a major boost to the team. With spectacular plays like his walk-off against the New York Yankees, or game-saving catch against the Cincinnati Reds, the spark he provided should carry into an expanded role in 2023. He finished playing in 28 games, where he had a slash line of .311/.373/.459 with two home runs. The way Mitchell played could help bring a new identity to this Brewers team, and he will do so by fully breaking out in 2023.