Major League Baseball
One MLB player to watch from every team: Juan Soto one-and-done with Yankees?
Major League Baseball

One MLB player to watch from every team: Juan Soto one-and-done with Yankees?

Updated Mar. 25, 2024 3:30 p.m. ET

A year ago, we were wowed by Ronald Acuña Jr.'s 40/70 season, Gold Glove outfielder Mookie Betts moving to the infield while launching a career-high 39 homers (and winning a Fielding Bible Award), Shohei Ohtani claiming his second unanimous MVP, all while Corbin Carroll and Gunnar Henderson emerged as star rookies in the sport. 

So, what should we expect in 2024? The beauty is in not knowing. But there's plenty to look forward to, from top prospects debuting to international free agents moving stateside to young talents looking to make the leap into superstardom. 

Here is the player we're most excited to watch from each team in 2024.

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Baltimore Orioles INF Jackson Holliday: The best version of the Orioles has Holliday in the lineup. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait to see it. Holliday performed well this spring but was sent to minor-league camp over the weekend, delaying the highly anticipated debut of baseball's top prospect. The front office cited the need to get the 20-year-old more time at second base and more at-bats against lefties. It's a bummer, but his time is near.

Boston Red Sox INF/OF Ceddanne Rafaela: The 23-year-old center fielder could be one of the lone bright spots on a 2024 Red Sox team that seems destined for the AL East basement. He's demonstrated great power and a well-rounded hit profile in each of his past two minor-league seasons and is considered a Gold Glove-caliber defender. Don't be surprised if the top prospect makes a run at AL Rookie of the Year honors. 

New York Yankees OF Juan Soto: All eyes will be on Soto in the Bronx this year, particularly because his future with the Yankees is as uncertain as it gets. It will be fascinating to see how much the superstar enjoys playing in pinstripes, how he responds to Yankee Stadium being his home ballpark, and how much convincing his new teammates try to do to keep him in New York long term. The club knows Soto is fully committed to becoming a free agent, but that only makes what happens over the next six-plus months that much more important.

Tampa Bay Rays INF Junior Caminero: While it's a little tempting to say Ryan Pepiot here considering Caminero won't start the year with the team, we should be seeing the Rays' top prospect and his exceptional power again soon, particularly considering all the injuries throughout the Tampa Bay roster. Caminero started last year in high-A, continued on to Double-A and ended the year as a 19-year-old major-leaguer, compiling 31 home runs in the process. The kid can flat-out hit.

Toronto Blue Jays 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.: Guerrero, for better or worse, will always be subject to lofty expectations. Baseball will always be waiting for the slugger to repeat or even come close to the dazzling production he flashed in his 2021 MVP-caliber season. The Blue Jays offense tends to go as the 25-year-old Guerrero goes, so these next couple of seasons, before the slugger's 2026 free agency, will be just as much of an inflection point for both sides.


Chicago White Sox RHP Michael Soroka: Color us intrigued to see how the former phenom fares after being sidelined for nearly four seasons. Soroka's also got a new team, after the Braves shipped him to the White Sox this past offseason. The right-hander was a fan favorite in Atlanta and is five years removed from his 2019 All-Star campaign in which he also finished second in Rookie of the Year voting and sixth in the Cy Young competition. Now, can he just hold up?

Cleveland Guardians C Bo Naylor: Finally, Cleveland might have a catcher with some serious pop. Naylor's .809 OPS in 2023 was the third-highest on the club (trailing his brother, Josh, and franchise cornerstone José Ramírez). Naylor exceeded his rookie limits last year, but we've yet to see him get a full season under his belt.

Detroit Tigers LHP Tarik Skubal: The 27-year-old southpaw looks primed for a breakout campaign. After missing the first half of last season because of flexor tendon surgery, Skubal produced a 2.80 ERA and 0.896 WHIP across 15 starts and 80 innings. It marked the third consecutive year that his numbers have improved following his 2020 debut. He's getting his first Opening Day nod for the Tigers, who are counting on him to be their ace as they look to contend in the open AL Central.

Kansas City Royals LHP Cole Ragans: This could be an all-time coup. The Rangers wanted to solidify their bullpen at the deadline last year, acquiring Aroldis Chapman for 17-year-old outfielder Roni Cabrera and Ragans, a 25-year-old reliever who transformed into one of the best starters in baseball immediately after the move. Ragans, who went from averaging 92.1 mph on his four-seamer in 2022 to 96.5 last year, had a 2.64 ERA in 12 starts with the Royals and was the American League Pitcher of the Month in August. He went from averaging 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings as a reliever in Texas to 11.2 as a starter with Kansas City. How real was that second half? We're about to find out.

Minnesota Twins 3B Royce Lewis: When Lewis is on the field, he produces. It's just a matter of posting. Injuries — including a torn ACL in back-to-back seasons — have limited the 2017 first-round pick to 70 games over the past two years. In that time, he has 17 home runs and has hit 49 percent better than league average. If he can stay healthy, you're looking at one of the top-hitting third basemen in the sport and a potential MVP candidate. He's still only 24.


Houston Astros C Yainer Díaz: Young, slugging catchers are making a comeback, and Díaz is no exception. After finishing fifth in Rookie of the Year voting, the Astros are entrusting Díaz to be their full-time backstop this season. He has the tall task of catching a host of veteran pitchers, including Justin Verlander and Josh Hader, on a club with title expectations. 

Los Angeles Angels C Logan O'Hoppe: If not for a torn labrum, O'Hoppe would've made the Rookie of the Year race much more intriguing last season. He launched 14 homers in 51 games, with 10 of those bombs coming after his return from surgery. The Angels haven't had much to celebrate of late, but their 24-year-old catcher emerging as a leader and one of the better hitters at his position would mark a big step in their rebuild.

Oakland Athletics INF Zack Gelof: Las Vegas and relocation issues aside, Gelof gives Oakland's embattled fan base something to be excited about. He has a serious shot at becoming the franchise's first player to have a 30/30 season since Jose Canseco went 40/40 in 1988. The 24-year-old second baseman is coming off a rookie year that included an .840 OPS, 14 home runs and 14 stolen bases over 69 games for the A's.

Seattle Mariners OF Julio Rodríguez: After finishing fourth in AL MVP voting last season and seventh as a rookie the year prior, is this the year J-Rod takes home the honors? The 23-year-old center fielder is already one of the best all-around players in baseball and a threat to record a 40/40 campaign. The next step in his superstar trek is becoming a more consistent hitter.

Texas Rangers OF/DH Wyatt Langford: The Rangers have two potential AL Rookie of the Year contenders in Evan Carter, who broke out following his summer 2023 debut, and Langford, who's about to make his mark after making the Opening Day roster. As the designated hitter, Langford can focus on what he does best: pulverizing the baseball. A first-round pick out of Florida just a year ago, Langford had an OPS over 1.000 at every stop last year, as he ascended from rookie ball all the way to Triple-A. In a stacked Rangers lineup, it wouldn't be surprising if he contended for their home run crown. 


Atlanta Braves OF Jarred Kelenic: Finally, there is less pressure on Kelenic to hit like the first-round pick the Mets drafted in 2018. Following an offseason trade from Seattle, he'll bat ninth in a Braves lineup that is regarded as the deepest in baseball. The change of scenery could help the 24-year-old finally find his footing in the major leagues.

Miami Marlins SS Tim Anderson: Anderson is hoping a fresh start in Miami will spark a resurgence on the diamond. From winning the 2019 batting title, to multiple All-Star nods and a Silver Slugger honor, to being the face of the White Sox franchise, the shortstop has experienced a precipitous decline to be playing on a one-year deal. At 30 years old, it's not out of the realm of possibility that he rebounds with the Marlins. But he's been trending in the wrong direction for three years now.

New York Mets C Francisco Álvarez: The 22-year-old catcher boasts plenty of upside coming off a rookie year that saw him play to his potential every other month. He produced a 1.029 OPS in May, only to drop to .534 in June, before bouncing back with a .974 mark and eight home runs in July. If Álvarez can find consistency at the plate, he'll be one of the best backstops in baseball. 

Philadelphia Phillies 2B Bryson Stott: After making a notable jump in 2023, the 26-year-old second baseman looks primed for a breakout season in his third year in the big leagues. Stott wants to get his average up to .300, and he flashes Gold Glove-caliber leather in the dirt. If he continues to improve, this might just be his first (of many?) All-Star season.

Washington Nationals OF James Wood: You could insert Wood or Dylan Crews here. Either answer is perfectly acceptable, though I imagine we might see Wood first after the 2021 second-round pick launched 18 homers at Double-A last year and continued to wow this spring with four home runs in Grapefruit League action. Wood will have to cut down on his strikeout rate to reach his potential, but it's not often we see someone standing 6-foot-6 who possesses the power/speed combo that Wood provides.


Chicago Cubs LHP Shōta Imanaga: Imanaga might not have received the lucrative deal of fellow Nippon Professional Baseball transfer Yoshinobu Yamamoto, but a lot is expected of the 30-year-old lefty in the middle of the Cubs' rotation, particularly after Marcus Stroman's departure. Imanaga, who led NPB's Central League with 174 strikeouts in 148 innings last year, was widely considered among the second tier of top free-agent pitchers available this winter, right behind the likes of Yamamoto, Blake Snell and Aaron Nola. For the Cubs to take another step forward, Imanaga will have to play a vital role.

Cincinnati Reds INF Elly De La Cruz: He's the fastest player in the game and can both hit and throw the ball as hard as anyone. His specific collection of skills, in a 6-foot-5 build, is unlike anything we've seen. His ceiling is massive, but so was his strikeout rate in his debut season. If he can make more contact and put the ball in the air more, the sky's the limit for one of the most captivating young players in baseball. There might not be a player in the sport more fun to watch.

Milwaukee Brewers OF Jackson Chourio: The Brewers felt strongly enough about their top overall prospect — rated No. 2 in all of baseball by MLB Pipeline — that they gave Chourio an eight-year, $82 million extension in early December, at the time setting a record for a player with no MLB service time. And why wouldn't they? As a 19-year-old last year, Chourio popped 22 homers and stole 43 bases at Double-A Biloxi. A five-tool talent, Chourio has all the makings of a star, and now the 20-year-old outfielder will get to showcase those skills starting on Opening Day.

Pittsburgh Pirates RHP Paul Skenes: One of the most decorated pitching prospects since Stephen Strasburg, last year's No. 1 overall draft pick won't break camp with the Pirates after only throwing 6.2 pro innings last year. But he could very well impact the Pittsburgh rotation at some point soon. Come for the triple-digit heat — just ask Holliday about that — and stay for the wicked slider.

St. Louis Cardinals RHP Sonny Gray: The Cardinals can only hope the hamstring injury forcing Gray to the injured list to begin the year isn't a sign of things to come. The 34-year-old is coming off a second-place finish in the AL Cy Young race with the Twins and arguably the best year of his career. Now, he's the ace of St. Louis' revamped rotation and will need to produce if the club is going to return to its winning ways following a miserable 2023 campaign.


Arizona Diamondbacks RHP Brandon Pfaadt: From not even making the 2023 Opening Day roster to emerging as a postseason hero, Pfaadt experienced a bit of everything as a rookie last year. This spring, there's been no doubt about the right-hander's spot in the Dbacks' rotation. Though he figures to settle in behind veterans Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly and Eduardo Rodríguez, who's opening the season on the IL, Pfaadt will likely have to deliver again just for the reigning NL champs to compete in the loaded NL West.

Colorado Rockies OF Nolan Jones: A warm cup of hot cocoa on a snowy winter day. An ice-cold drink on a sweltering summer afternoon. This is Jones on the Rockies' roster, a 25-year-old who just posted a 20/20 season in only 106 games for the last-place squad while finishing fourth in Rookie of the Year voting. He was exceptional at and away from Coors Field last year, his combination of power, speed and defense providing some optimism in Colorado. 

Los Angeles Dodgers RHP Yoshinobu Yamamoto: There are about 10 different answers that could make sense with this team. We're excited to see what Shohei Ohtani will do in a lineup oozing with talent, what Mookie Betts can do at shortstop, how Gavin Stone looks as the fifth starter and what Walker Buehler can do when healthy again, but the answer is the $325 million man. The Dodgers made Yamamoto the highest-paid pitcher in the sport despite him never having pitched an inning in the majors. His first test in Korea went dreadfully, but better days are ahead.

San Diego Padres RHP Michael King: King's talent isn't a question. We've already seen him produce at an extremely high level in New York, only that was largely out of the Yankees' pen. His nine starts to end the season last year — 1.88 ERA, 48 strikeouts in 38.1 innings — demonstrated his ultimate potential, but last year's 104.2 innings pitched marked a career high for the 28-year-old. How many innings can we expect from him this year in San Diego? And can he be an effective starter over a much larger sample? 

San Francisco Giants OF Jung Hoo Lee: A career .340 hitter in the KBO, Lee's contact skills alone should give him a relatively high floor as an offensive talent in his transition to the big leagues. But the Giants are looking for All-Star production after giving the 25-year-old outfielder a nine-figure deal. One of the top players out of Korea, I'm curious to see how much power Lee generates and how much success he has defensively at the MLB level. A dazzling performance this spring, one in which he demonstrated an ability to make hard contact, only adds to the intrigue.

Deesha Thosar is an MLB writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the Mets as a beat reporter for the New York Daily News. The daughter of Indian immigrants, Deesha grew up on Long Island and now lives in Queens. Follow her on Twitter at @DeeshaThosar.

Rowan Kavner is an MLB writer for FOX Sports. He previously covered the L.A. Dodgers, LA Clippers and Dallas Cowboys. An LSU grad, Rowan was born in California, grew up in Texas, then moved back to the West Coast in 2014. Follow him on Twitter at @RowanKavner.


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