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Opening Day 2019: The Dodgers Five Biggest Breakout Candidates

As the Los Angeles Dodgers begin their season, here are five potential breakout candidates to keep an eye on during the 2019 campaign.

Everyone has the ability to transform themselves like the caterpillar emerging from its cocoon. 

Each and every year, the Dodgers are the factory that takes emerging talent and transforms them into superstars. 

Not only do the Dodgers possess two of the last three National League Rookie of the Year winners (Walker Buehler finished third in 2019), but they operate like the American Idol of sports: taking an unknown player and developing them into an impact star at the Major League level.

In 2017, it was Chris Taylor that opened people's eyes. In 2018, it was Max Muncy that was on nobody's radar before the season began.

Sure, we expect a certain level of success from the team's best players like Justin Turner, Kenley Jansen, and Clayton Kershaw, but what about the lesser known players that might make the difference between going deep into the postseason, or missing the MLB playoffs altogether?

These unearthed gems could be stuck in the minor leagues, recently claimed off the waiver wire, or even a prospect that is just waiting to tap into his potential. With that said, here are five players that could have breakout years for the Boys in Blue.

Enrique Hernandez 

Enrique Hernandez arguably had the best spring of any Dodger, batting .278/.344/.500 with three home runs and 11 RBI in just 20 games.

Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts declared Hernandez his every day second baseman and the Puerto Rican utility player now has an opportunity to have a breakout season in 2019.

Austin Barnes

Another player with an opportunity to win the starting job this spring was catcher Austin Barnes. After the departure of Yasmani Grandal to the Milwaukee Brewers in free agency, the Dodgers traded for a familiar face in veteran Russell Martin.

However, Martin struggled with some minor injuries early in spring, and Barnes proved he has what it takes both offensively and defensively to win the starting catching job entering the regular season.

The California native batted .289/.396/.489 with two home runs and 12 RBI this spring. Barnes will split time behind the plate with Martin, but if he continues his hot-hitting into April, he could win the starting job permanently.

Alex Verdugo

The Dodgers have had a top three finalist for NL Rookie of the Year for the last three seasons, including back-to-back winners in Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger in 2016 and 2017. This year, don't be surprised if outfielder Alex Verdugo finds himself smack in the middle of the Rookie of the Year discussion come September.

After trading away two outfielders in Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig, Verdugo will finally get his chance to play in the big leagues as he makes his first Opening Day roster in 2019.

The left-handed hitting Verdugo batted .250/.298/.365 in spring with seven RBI. Verdugo has batted over .300 in back-to-back seasons with Triple-A Oklahoma City, and will certainly have some opportunities at the plate with the Dodgers.

Julio Urias

Less than two years removed from season-ending shoulder surgery, the biggest surprise of the 2019 season could be 22-year-old pitcher Julio Urias.

The Mexican native had the best spring out of any of the Dodgers starting pitchers, posting a 2.31 ERA with 11 strikeouts in four Cactus League games. Urias ended his preseason with four perfect innings against the Angels on Tuesday.

Urias was originally expected to begin the season in the bullpen, but due to injuries, he could find himself in the starting rotation until Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill are able to return. 

Dustin May

Walker Buehler rose to ascension in 2018, but it's another lanky right-hander that could steal the spotlight in 2019.

Redheaded wunderkind Dustin May was a popular name in trade talks last season, and has impressed everyone through spring training. It's unlikely May makes an impact on the Major League roster this season, but with enough injuries to the starting rotation, May might see his opportunity come sooner, rather than later.

May has terrific stuff with an electric fastball and scintillating slider (not to mention his pinpoint precision accuracy). The former third-round pick in 2016 likely won't be on the big league roster any time soon, but is a surefire candidate for a September call up.

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