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Kaboom! Magazine.com Most Explosive Breakout Athletes to Watch in 2019

Kaboom! Magazine.com Most Explosive Breakout Athletes to Watch in 2019

Finally, 2018 has come to a close, and from Ben Simmons to Lamar Jackson, the year was marked by the emergence of several breakout stars across the sports world. Surely, 2019 will feature its share of fresh, young talent, as well, so without further ado, here’s our best guesses as to which under-the-radar up-and-comers will be household names by the time we ring in 2020.

19.Jack Hughes (NHL):

In NHL cities where rebuilding is underway, fans understand the phrase “Lose for Hughes.” Since the start of last season, there’s been a buzz about Hughes becoming the next American star. He’s 5-10, 170 pounds, but he’s expected to have an enormous impact on a franchise when he is chosen No. 1 in next June’s draft. Scouts say there’s no chance anyone will move ahead of him. The boyish-looking Hughes is too fast, too elusive, too clever with and without the puck. The expectation is that he will have an impact similar to Blackhawks star Patrick Kane, a smallish player who can put up numbers with the best in the game. Hughes is currently playing with the U.S. National Team Development Program, and he is dominating at his age level. He had 116 points in 60 games last season. At last month’s Five Nation Tournament, he tallied 16 points in four games. He could be in the NHL in 2019-20.

18. Andrade (WWE):

His main roster call-up started well enough. The Sin Cara feud was an effective introduction and he was allowed to shine in matches with two major Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles. SmackDown’s heel scene is extremely cluttered, and with the likes of Bryan, Randy Orton, Samoa Joe, The Miz, and others all above him in the pecking order, Andrade’s elevation was always going to be a slow one. We’re faithful that the blue brand’s sharp writing team understand his potential, and are merely waiting for a spot to open up. Keeping Almas and Zelina Vega together is critical, as Almas’ success is highly dependent on his mouthpiece. Having her wrestle isn’t a problem, but she must remain tethered to him, as it’ll result in both reaping bigger benefits.

17. Bryan Abreu (MLB):

Abreu notched 90 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings this season and could be in store for another big year as he continues to refine his command and work his way through the system. Abreu has thrown only 38 1/3 innings at the full-season level, but with a fastball that sits at 92-94 mph and a curveball that some executives feel is the best in the system, it’s easy to see why 2019 could be a big year for Abreu.

16. Kron Gracie (MMA):

The son of the legendary Rickson Gracie, the 30-year-old submission ace is 4-0 as a mixed martial artist and is sure to get an accelerated push into the spotlight now that he’s signed with the UFC. His promotional debut is scheduled for Feb. 17 on the first UFC event to air on ESPN and you can be sure that his lineage and family name will be a part of the promotional build-up to the show. And if Gracie can go out and impress against Alex Caceres, there is no way that an unbeaten Gracie in the UFC isn’t going to get a major push — both from the promotion and the media — going forward. Featherweight is one of the deepest, most talented divisions in the UFC and there are no easy outs, but if Gracie can put together two or three wins, his family name will help expedite his rise up the rankings and thrust him into the spotlight.

15. Justin Fields (CFB):

Perhaps you’ve heard a thing or two about this by now, but Ohio State landed a ultra-talented transfer when Georgia’s Justin Fields made the decision to head to the Big Ten. At 6-foot-3 and about 230 pounds, he’s an electric runner who could be an absolute nightmare under Ryan Day’s tutelage. Fields also has a cannon for an arm, as a true freshman in Athens, he connected on 27 of 39 attempts for 328 yard with four scores and no interceptions. He added another 266 yards rushing and four touchdowns with his legs. . Now he’ll look to continue the strong quarterback play in Columbus.

14. Bianca Belair (WWE):

There are some breakout stars on NXT’s women’s roster as well, but the one who has been standing out the most is Bianca Belair. She does not only stand out because of her long braid. She built up momentum thanks to her in-ring ability and charisma, making her next in line for the NXT title. Of course, many believe Belair might be making an appearance on the main roster too in 2019.

13. Diego Lainez (Soccer):

After winning Liga MX’s Apertura final with Club America and receiving his first-call up for Mexico earlier this year, the Mexican prodigy has shown that he is ready for even bigger things. Speaking exclusively to Sports Illustrated earlier in 2018, Lainez expressed his obvious interest to one day continue his career in Europe, and after seeing the success of Hirving “Chucky” Lozano at PSV Eindhoven, there’s no reason why the multidimensional Lainez couldn’t do the same in the future. For 2019, next summer’s Gold Cup will be a great opportunity for his stock to rise.

12. Thomas Chabot (NHL):

Thomas Chabot, a 21-year-old defenseman for Ottawa, has shown the offensive skill from the blueline that’s thrilled Sens fans. While he hasn’t replaced Karlsson, Chabot’s already exceeded his own production from last season. He might be better at even strength than on the power play, rare for an offensive defenseman. He’s young, but he’s the future of the Sens—and the next great blueliner in the NHL.

11. Maycee Barber (MMA):

The 20-year-old Barber earned a UFC contract in July by pushing her record to 5-0 with a third-round stoppage win over Jamie Colleen on the Contender Series and then showed she’s one of the most promising prospects in the sport in her promotional debut four months later by finishing Hannah Cifers in devastating fashion.

10. Ross Stripling (MLB):

Some may consider a pitcher with an All-Star appearance and a 3.02 ERA as someone who’s already experienced their breakout. However, it’s plausible Stripling delivers ace-like production for the Dodgers next year. At least that’s what the stats suggest. Stripling’s 1.35 BB/9 was second best in the NL, while his 10.1 SO/9 finished eleventh. If Stripling can safely increase his workload and remain available, the 28-year-old won’t remain in the shadow of Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler for long.

9.Sulem Urbina (Boxing):

With an impressive track record in amateur boxing of over 90 fighting, Sulem Urbina is now one biggest bright spots in female boxing. Making her pro debut in 2016, she is currently undefeated at 10-0 and has already stated that she is willing to take on any champion that comes her way. 2019 has been considered by many as a “Make or Break” year for women’s boxing, but with women like Urbina leading the way, its very easy to say that the sport is ready for a big year.

8.Stephen Carr (CFB):

Carr showed a ton of potential as a freshman back in 2017 playing in nine games with 363 rushing yards on 65 carries and 188 receiving yards on 17 catches. But Carr missed spring football the following year due to back surgery and he never looked like himself during his sophomore campaign. In this new offense, his ability to catch passes out of the backfield and make people miss in space should be a huge asset for Harrell and more importantly J.T. Daniels. Draw plays to Carr should help slow down the pass rush that brutalized Daniels last year and a few quick and easy throws to Carr out of the backfield should build confidence for the young Daniels and push this offense down the field in a much more efficient manner than we saw in 2018.

7.Beau Hossler (PGA):

It is only a matter of time for Beau Hossler. He earned a PGA Tour card last year without status on any tour and worked his way to a top 50 FedExCup finish. He nearly got his first win in Houston in 2018 but lost a playoff to Ian Poulter. Hossler still notched five top 10s and eight top 25s in his first full season. He has been very impressive during the first two round of events and it is only a matter of time before he puts it together on the weekends.

6. Mandy Rose (WWE):

Like it or not, Mandy Rose’s time is coming and it’s coming in 2019. With her look, it was always a matter of when, not if, she would be pushed to the forefront, regardless of any other attributes she may or may not have. With a SmackDown women’s division that’s likely to thin out soon, her push is probably coming sooner rather than later. It’s feasible indeed that she’ll win her first title at some point after WrestleMania 35 and before SummerSlam next year, which is a time when WWE is usually in slump mode and is apt to experiment with acts that fans aren’t necessarily behind. We’ll need to see where the build goes with her over the coming months, but a breakout is coming for her in 2019. That’s something that you can be certain of. Let’s just hope it works out for the best!

5. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (MLB):

On paper, Guerrero was a boy playing against men in 2018. In reality, it was Guerrero who looked down on his foes. The Blue Jays prospect dominated several levels of the minor leagues, culminating in a 30-game stint at Class AAA, against players, on average, eight years older than him. Whatever: Guerrero batted .336, produced a .978 on-base plus slugging and showed he belonged in the major leagues. Alas, baseball’s draconian service-time rules — and teams’ desires to manipulate them — kept Guerrero in the minor leagues. Not to worry: On, say, April 26, 2019, Guerrero will make his debut in Toronto, and baseball may soon thereafter be heralding its next emerging superstar.

4.Noah Lyles (Track & Field):

The 21-year-old American sprinter held the fastest time in the 200-meter dash in 2018 (blitzing a 19.65-second time in July), as well as one of the fastest 100-meter times (9.88 seconds in June). Lyles’ times were almost identical to Olympic legend Usain Bolt’s times at the same age. With the 200-meter his specialty, Lyles’ consistently excellent times in the event would have beaten Bolt in the Rio Games in 2016. Lyles is also the current 300-meter indoor world record holder with a time of 31.87 — from the 2017 U.S. Indoor Championships. His decision to skip college (he had a full ride to Florida) and compete at the pro level only expedites his rise. In a post-Bolt era of Olympic sprinting, Lyles is poised to ascend to the top for the 2020 Tokyo Games. That means 2019 figures to be a key year.

3. Teofimo Lopez (Boxing):

López is the best prospect in the game, maybe the best in a decade or more. He has everything it takes to be a star of the highest magnitude in boxing. To call this guy a prospect, though, is a disservice to him. He’s simply one of the best fighters in the world.  He’s only 21 and has been a pro for only two years. And yeah, he’s just 11-0 with nine knockouts. All it takes, though, is one quick glance at him to know that this guy is different than any other 21-year-old in the game. López has a magnetic personality and a bluntness about him that doesn’t always serve fighters well. Sometimes, their words can come back to haunt them, but Lopez is supremely confident because he’s supremely talented.

2. Tatiana Suraez (MMA):

Tatiana Suarez closed out her 2018 by mowing down former champion Carla Esparza. Her dominant ground game and physical strength has made everyone take note of her championship ability. In 2019, she could become the face of the division. Rose Namajunas has been a bright spot since dethroning Joanna Jedrzejczyk, but as she has stood atop the division, new foes have risen. Suarez may be the class of those contenders. She is the evolution of the strawweight division that has always been the deepest female division in the sport.

1.Trevor Lawrence (College Football):

Trevor Lawrence had gained star status based on his play all season, and he is clearly a remarkable player as a 19-year-old. The Tennessee native completed 20 of 32 passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions in the 2019 national championship game. The 6’6″, 215-pounder was calm at the start, took advantage of holes in Alabama’s coverage and stayed focused throughout. His demeanor may be his best attribute, because he is not intimidated by the moment or the opponent. He is a breakout superstar and is quite likely the favorite for the 2019 Heisman Trophy in his sophomore season.

What new breakout star are you most looking forward to seeing when they breakout in 2019? Allow your opinion to be heard by leaving a comment below.