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Survey Says: 19 Anonymous MLB Scouts, Executives Offer 2021 Predictions

Christian Yelich Getty
(Getty Images)

With Opening Day just 48 hours away, we consulted a bevy of MLB scouts and front office officials on the teams that will surprise people the most in 2021, who had the best and worst offseason, and several breakout players to watch this year. You can find all their responses below. 


Which Team Will Surprise In 2021? 

Angels, Royals 4 votes

Brewers, Phillies, Nationals 2 votes

Athletics, Blue Jays, Padres 1 vote

ANGELS

“I think the Angels have finally put together a halfway decent rotation with depth they haven’t had. (In the past) they’d start with five, then end up with two or three, and their replacements were Triple-A guys. Now I think they’re five deep with a competitive guy on the mound and they’re going to score.”
—AL scout

“The atmosphere with the change over there (Anaheim), and I think things are going to move along more smoothly. They’ve got big personality guys in the front office who want to get to know everybody—scouts, player development—and get everybody moving on the same page.”
—AL special assistant

“I think the Angels because the division is gettable. You can call Shohei Ohtani a nice healthy ‘addition’ as well as Jose and Raisel Iglesias. Expect a bounce back from Anthony Rendon. They could surprise in the AL West.”
—NL special assistant

ROYALS

Bobby Witt Jr. is going to impact the Royals’ lineup at some point, if not by Opening Day, and they have a number of young arms. They have so many arms people don’t know about—Alec Marsh, Asa Lacy, Daniel Lynch—there are a number of power arms that they have. They are so deep.”
—AL special adviser

“Offensively, the Royals are good. I think they’re gonna field the ball. They’re not going to create extra outs. It seems like a team with really good chemistry, and I think they’ve done a nice job this offseason with some acquisitions and I think the division is doable.”
—AL scouting director

BREWERS

“I love the Brewers’ pickups of Kolten Wong and Jackie Bradley Jr. Christian Yelich and Keston Hiura are going to have much better seasons. Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes are filthy at the top of their rotation. Eric Lauer and Adrian Houser are rotation-stabilizers and of course you want no part of their pen in later innings of games.”
—NL senior VP of scouting

“I think the Brewers are a good team and people are a little down on them. They’re one of the best coached and managed teams in baseball. They tend to get more out of players. They were down year last year, but I think they’ll bounce back.”
—NL assistant GM

NATIONALS

“The Nationals have healthy starting pitchers, plus Jon Lester. They have an improved bullpen, and hardly anyone is talking about the buy low on Josh Bell.”
—AL special assignment scout

PHILLIES

“The Phillies have to be better. Their bullpen was historically bad, but unlucky, in a short season. The Phillies are good. That’s a good division. I haven’t decided whether or not Washington is any good, but you take Braves, Mets, Phillies and Nationals and those are good teams. I don’t know, flip a coin.”
—AL special assistant


Which team had the best offseason?

Padres 14 votes

Mets, Royals 2 votes

White Sox, Cardinals, Blue Jays 1 vote

PADRES

“It’s hard not to go with the Padres when Chris Paddack goes from your No. 2 to your No. 5. And he’s not a No. 5—he’s better than that. And you’re not even using Mike Clevinger yet. That’s five plus arms if Dinelson Lamet stays healthy. You can run someone out every night who’s a horse.”
—AL scout

“The Padres had a great offseason making them legitimate contenders without depleting the farm system. They still have guys to move if they need to make other deals.”
—AL VP of player personnel

“Let’s not overlook the obvious. I love what San Diego did. I love the Padres. I did last year. For all the criticism that (general manager) A.J. Preller has taken in the past, I respect him man. Good for him, good for those guys.”
—AL special assistant

“The Padres made a huge statement with quality rotation upgrades. Ha-Seong Kim has chance to be breakout type.”
—AL special assignment scout

METS

“The Mets sewed up their starting pitching. Carlos Carrasco—when you can get that kind of pitcher, a guy who can win a bunch of games.”
—AL special assistant

ROYALS

“The Royals acquiring Andrew Benintendi, Carlos Santana and Mike Minor to go with what they have coming. Those are three winning-type players.”
—AL special adviser

BLUE JAYS

“I don’t think the Blue Jays had a great offseason, but I think they had best the offseason. They went out and filled holes, surrounded their good young players with guys like George Springer, good clubhouse guys with some leadership. They didn’t get big everywhere but the side pieces all seem to fit in with that group.”
—NL senior adviser

WHITE SOX

“They added a lockdown closer in Liam Hendriks. The young outfielders will take off. They’ve got rotation depth and their bullpen is strong.”
—NL special assistant

CARDINALS

“I know they didn’t do a ton, but the thing they did do is they got Nolan Arenado, an impact player at a reasonable price—and that’s hard to do in major league baseball.”
—NL assistant GM

ATHLETICS

“They had a pretty good week, if (closer) Trevor Rosenthal is all right. They had a good 10-day period there in February (they signed Rosenthal, Mitch Moreland, Yusmeiro Petit and Sergio Romo). They bided their time and got a little better.
—Major league scout


Which Team Had the Worst Offseason?

Rockies 9 votes

Pirates, Reds 2 votes

Astros, Athletics, Cubs, Indians, Mariners, Orioles, Tigers 1 vote

ROCKIES

“The Rockies traded Nolan Arenado, a No. 2 or No. 3 hole hitter who’s a Gold Glove player, and you eat $50 million-some in salary and you get nothing back that’s even in top five, top 10 prospects of St. Louis? That’s a horrible deal. I also think letting David Dahl go for nothing is a problem. What makes a guy like Trevor Story want to stay there when you see people get thrown away?”
—AL VP and scouting director

“The Rockies, by a mile. If you’re Trevor Story do you want to stay? They’re gonna be terrible.”
—AL special assistant

“The Rockies made few moves and alienated fans and the team. Good luck with Trevor Story.”
—NL scouting director

PIRATES

“It’s embarrassing what the Pirates did. If you don’t want to own the team, sell the club. It’s that bad, I think. I don’t blame it on (general manager) Ben Cherington, he’s just taking marching orders.”
—NL special adviser

REDS

“The Reds had a solid pitching staff last year. I’d sure like to have Luis Castillo. For a five-man staff, it was a solid staff, and now all of a sudden you’re like where are they going to be. Cincinnati is a team that pulled the plug.”
—Major league scout

CUBS

“It’s hard to function as a supposedly a contending team if you let your pitching go. The Cubs better have a really good pitching program to manufacture some new arms to replace those guys in the rotation. We’ll see.”
—Major league scout

ATHLETICS

“I’ll go with one team that may cost them a chance at division. Oakland losing their closer (Liam Hendriks), shortstop (Marcus Semien) and power bat (Khris Davis). Hard to overcome but we’ll see.”
—NL special assistant

TIGERS

“The Tigers have gone analytic, but yet none of the signings fit that. I think they’re gonna lose 100 again. They’re changing the culture, but it’s a culture of what?”
—NL special assistant

ORIOLES

“I know the Orioles are in rebuild mode, but come on. It’s embarrassing to the sport what they’re doing, or aren’t doing. They’re not even signing the better minor league free agents, in my opinion.”
—NL VP of scouting

INDIANS

“When you lose an all-star shortstop (Francisco Lindor) and one of your horses (Carlos Carrasco) in your rotation and you add back kids . . . Maybe if Andres Gimenez truly is a breakout player, they did OK. I’m not sure they got better in any other spot. They still have good starting pitching even without Carrasco. But they went backward.”
—AL scout

MARINERS

The Mariners did little to address the club’s weaknesses outside of the pen. They’re relying heavily on a young core making big strides with limited ‘productive’ veteran help. The Kevin Mather thing did not help with organization optics this winter.”
—AL special assignment scout


Ke'bryan Hayes Getty

Baseball America Prospect Report—April 2, 2021

Notable MLB prospects who stood out on Opening Day, including Ke'Bryan Hayes, Jonathan India and Kyle Isbel.

Which young player will break out?

Andrew Benintendi, Dylan Carlson, Jarred Kelenic, Gavin Lux 2 votes

Alec Bohm, Byron Buxton, Wander Franco, Clint Frazier, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Nico Hoerner, Eloy Jimenez, Adalberto Mondesi, Luis Robert, Evan White 1 vote

Andrew Benintendi, Royals

“Benintendi had a bad year last year. Now he’s playing in a park where he can hit a bushel of doubles. I think he’s going to have a great year for the Royals.”
—AL special assistant

Dylan Carlson, Cardinals

“Carlson is a really good young player with a good feel for the game. He can beat you in few different ways.”
—NL assistant GM

Jarred Kelenic, Mariners

“You have to think Kelenic is going to get every opportunity to play after what happened with him over the winter (when deposed Mariners president and CEO Kevin Mather said the club was going to delay Kelenic’s service clock).”
—Major league scout

Gavin Lux, Dodgers

“Lux looks like he belongs now. And in that Dodgers lineup he’s got plenty of protection. I hope they don’t platoon him too much.”
—AL assistant GM

Evan White, Mariners

“I think White is going to be a monster. He’s as unique a first baseman as we’ve seen in awhile. He’s plus run, throw, field, hit and power. He might be a year away, but I think he’ll have a big offensive year and be in the Gold Glove conversation.”
—NL special assistant

Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pirates

“He’s going to be a stud.”
—NL senior VP of scouting

Clint Frazier, Yankees

“I think Frazier is going to get much more consistent opportunity this year. I think he (has) as fast of a bat as there is in big leagues, a lightning-quick bat. He’s got a ton of power and I think he’s matured. There’s a maturity level. I don’t think players ever change their stripes, but with him I think he’s figured some things out.”
—AL scouting director

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