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Top Five: Possible breakout players this baseball season

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,Elliot Smilowitz

As we gear up for baseball season, here are five players primed for breakout seasons:

5. Colby Rasmus, Toronto »

Once a top Cardinals prospect, Rasmus has struggled with his batting average since showing flashes of brilliance in 2010. He will be a beneficiary of the Blue Jays' revamped lineup and should see more pitches in the strike zone this year.

4. Will Middlebrooks, Boston » The third baseman was on his way to an impact rookie season when a broken wrist ended his 2012 early. Strikeouts will be an issue but Middlebrooks could crack 30 home runs in his first full year.

3. Mike Minor, Atlanta »

After struggling in his first few years in the majors, Minor looked like a different player in the second half of 2012, logging a 2.16 ERA and 0.87 WHIP after the break. The Braves are adept at getting young pitchers to reach their potential; see Kris Medlen's breakout last year.

2. Vinnie Pestano, Cleveland » One of the dominant set-up men in baseball for the last two years, Pestano will get a shot at closing if the Indians move Chris Perez. Pestano's untouchable stuff should translate well to the ninth.

1. Salvador Perez, Kansas City? »

The sweet-hitting catcher has a .311 batting average across two years in the majors and turns 23 in May. If his power keeps developing as expected, Perez will become one of the premier backstops in baseball.

- Elliot Smilowitz

esmilowitz@washingtonexaminer.com

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Elliot Smilowitz

Senior Web Producer and Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner