8. Gerrit Cole
Who said Pittsburgh had to be a football city? If Andrew McCutchen and company have done one thing over the past seven seasons, it has brought baseball back to one of the historic franchises in the National League.
Gerrit Cole is one guy who is a product of that culture. Last year, the righty out of UCLA reached 19 victories, recorded 202 strikeouts, and kept his ERA at 2.60. All three of these numbers were big improvements for the 25-year-old, who had 9 wins, 138 strikeouts, and a 3.65 ERA in 2014.
Pittsburgh is a team on the brink of greatness. They’ve had the talent to reach the playoffs three consecutive years; now they just need to bring home a victory. Roberto Clemente‘s first full season (second year playing with Pittsburgh) was 60 years ago — maybe it’s time for the Pirates. Regardless, it’ll be a fun year to watch Cole continue to mature.