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Keith Law's picks to click: 2018 breakout candidates

Xander Bogaerts is already a productive regular, but he could be ready to deliver big-time power in 2018. Kim Klement/USA Today Sports

Every March, I post a list of players who I think are primed for significant upticks in performance for the coming season. These are players who already have lost their rookie status but either haven't performed at all in the majors or perhaps just haven't lived up to expectations.

Last year's list had several players who did indeed break out, including Charlie Morton, Byron Buxton, James Paxton (I said 20 starts and 3-4 WAR; he made 24 starts and produced 3.8 WAR) and Orlando Arcia, plus two guys who suffered injuries that affected their performances last year but whom I still like going forward in Addison Russell (shoulder) and Eduardo Rodriguez (knee). Rodriguez flashed a better breaking ball in spring training last year, but it didn't last, and that remains his biggest flaw as a starter.

This year's list has nine players on it, all aged 22 to 25, including a couple of former top prospects looking for their first real taste of big league success.

These choices come from my own historical evaluations of players, a look at recent performances, and conversations with scouts and coaches this spring about which players look better in some way or otherwise seem primed for a breakout. I've included a line at the end mentioning prospects who have impressed scouts this spring and who might also make a significant impact in the majors at some point this season.