Five potential breakout pitching stars for the A.L. West in 2015
Kendall Graveman — Oakland A's
Kendall Graveman, 24, has all but pitched his way into the A's starting rotation on the strength of a stellar spring with his new team. Acquired as part of the trade that sent Josh Donaldson to the Toronto Blue Jays, Graveman has thrown 21 1/3 innings this spring, allowing just ten hits, four walks and one run. After blazing his way through Toronto's system in 2014, Graveman has the potential to be a huge asset for the A's 2015 rotation behind Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir and Jesse Hahn. If he has the kind of year he seems capable of having, the A's will be in good hands.
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Asher Wojciechowski — Houston Astros
Whether Asher Wojciechowski begins the season in the Astros' rotation or not, there's little doubt he'll wind up making a contribution as 2015 progresses. Wojciechowski, 26, hasn't yet thrown a pitch in the Major Leagues, but he's been one of the Astros' best hurlers this spring. Over the course of 16 2/3 IP, Woj has allowed a paltry two runs, while racking up thirteen strikeouts and amassing an ERA of 1.08. Having ascended to the Triple-A level with the Houston organization last year, the right-hander should be more than capable of winding up in Houston in 2015 at some point.
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Andrew Heaney — Los Angeles Angels
For the Los Angeles Angels, picking up lefty Andrew Heaney was a big move earlier in the offseason. Coming over from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for beloved second baseman Howie Kendrick, G.M. Jerry Dipoto and the Halos obviously think highly of the 23-year-old Heaney. Though some spring struggles will keep Heaney in Triple-A to start the year, the Angels are banking on him ironing out his mechanics quickly enough to slide into the rotation soon. Heaney threw 29 innings for the Miami Marlins last year, so he's still young enough to be called a 'prospect,' but he's also considered one of the most promising young lefties in the game. The Angels are hoping he will be exactly that.
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Taijuan Walker — Seattle Mariners
Right-hander Taijuan Walker has been 'on the rise' for a while, but the 22-year-old should turn the corner for good in 2015. He was absolutely dominant in spring training, allowing zero runs in eighteen innings of six-hit, four-walk, 19-strikeout baseball. You can't really do much better than that, pitching-wise. A consistent and burgeoning Walker will go a long way toward helping the Mariners make good on the promise everyone seems to see from them heading into 2015. If he can act as a No. 3 alongside Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, the M's could have one of the best rotations in the A.L., or even the league as a whole. That's how high his upside is.
Alex 'Chi Chi' Gonzalez — Texas Rangers
Another spring standout was Alex 'Chi Chi' Gonzalez of the Rangers. Boasting the kind of performance that goes 'beyond the box score,' manager Jeff Banister and his staff were impressed with the makeup and repertoire of Gonzalez, 23. He allowed six runs in 13 2/3 innings of work, but also racked up 15 strikeouts. When he was announced as a cut, it was with the hopeful 'he'll be back soon, though' caveat. With the Rangers having to make do without Yu Darvish in 2015, and with lefties Matt Harrison and Martin Perez on uncertain comeback plans, Gonzalez could very well fight his way back to the Rangers' rotation this season.