Wainwright, Weeks among top breakout candidates
I'm often asked in ESPN.com chats about potential breakout candidates for the upcoming season. I consider a player to be a breakout candidate if I see a reason, from a scouting perspective or a statistical one, why his performance will improve significantly from one year to the next, to a level at which he hasn't performed previously.Here are 10 players I'd tab as breakout candidates for 2008, as well as a handful of other names on whom to keep your eyes this season.
Jason Kubel, OF/DH, Minnesota TwinsKubel was a leading rookie of the year contender for 2005, but after his monster 2004 season, he destroyed his knee in the Arizona Fall League. He missed all of '05 and struggled through '06 and even the early part of '07. His second-half surge was boosted by a huge September, at which point the level of competition starts to slip, but in Kubel's case, it looked like a return to his pre-injury level of ability. He always has boasted a strong eye at the plate and has a quick, line-drive stroke that projects to at least 20-homer power, more if he's willing to sacrifice a little bit of contact to pull the ball more. Kubel's weakness remains left-handed pitching, and there's a chance he will end up a platoon player. But we're a few years from that point, and now that he's a full-time designated hitter, there's less chance he'll miss development time against lefties due to injury.