Jul 19, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; American League catcher Jose Trevino (39) of the New York Yankees greets American League pitcher Nestor Cortes (65) of the New York Yankees after the sixth inning against the National League at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

There is no perfect science to prospects becoming an every-day major leaguer. Things often don’t go as expected as they are finding their way. Sometimes things even go wrong. But during that developmental process is where players typically find themselves and discover what they’re really made of.

Each season, a handful of players go from marginal big leaguers to regular starters — even All-Stars. This season, a sizable group of veterans has enjoyed career breakthroughs, and their success has been one of the biggest storylines of 2022 as seemingly each team has one or two players who’ve made a major leap.

New York Yankees catcher Jose Trevino went from defensive backup to American League All-Star at age 29. Colorado Rockies first baseman C.J. Cron earned his first All-Star nod in his ninth MLB season at 32. They’re just two of the late bloomers who have had to endure the tough round of making it to the majors and remaining one of the 780 players in MLB. And the difference between getting there and staying there is what separates the best from those who are still bouncing around Triple A.

“Getting sent down never feels good, but it lights a fire under us,” Trevino said. “And I learned to take things like criticism and use that not only as fuel but like to really work on it and not get hurt by it. … If you're gonna tell me I'm not good at it, I'm gonna ask you, 'How can I get better at it?’”

Trevino began the year in spring training with the Texas Rangers, but when the team moved forward with Jonah Heim as its starting catcher, he was traded to the Yankees right before the start of the regular season. The Yanks got some much-needed stability behind the plate. Trevino got the opportunity to play every day. He parlayed it into his first career All-Star appearance.

“I’ve talked to a lot of guys in the minor leagues,” Trevino said. “I know (the journey) can get long, man. And I know it feels like you're never gonna get to where you want to be. But you keep working. You keep one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. Like literally just keep moving forward.”


Aug 9, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies first baseman C.J. Cron (25) runs off his three run home run in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Cron is a perfect example of how being a first-round pick doesn’t always equal immediate success. Selected 17th overall by the Los Angeles Angels in 2011, Cron debuted three years later and hit 16 home runs in three straight seasons from 2015 to 2017, but he never lived up to his lofty draft status. He made stops in Tampa Bay, Minnesota and Detroit before signing with the Rockies as a free agent.

He has thrived in the Mile High City, producing a team-leading 23 home runs and 80 RBIs.

“Just trusting what you can do,” Cron said of how he’s been able to persevere. “I think every step of the way there were always people reassuring me that I could hit and they knew that I was a good player, and just keeping that mentality from team to team to team.

“I knew that eventually a team would appreciate what I could do and I'll be able just to showcase the form. Colorado giving me the opportunity was huge, and I'm super thankful for it.”

Unlike other first-round picks like Cron or even a sixth-rounder like Trevino, Yankees left-hander Nestor Cortes wasn’t expected to be a fixture in a major-league starting rotation. The fact that Cortes, a 36th-round selection by the Yankees in 2013, even reached the big leagues is pretty remarkable.

Selected in the Rule 5 Draft by the Baltimore Orioles in 2017, Cortes made his MLB debut in 2018 at age 23. He returned to the Yankees but was traded to the Seattle Mariners in 2019. He found his way back to the Bronx as a free agent last year, and that’s when he finally put things together with a 2.90 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 93 innings.

This year, the 27-year-old Cortes is having the best season of his career. He was named an American League All-Star and is currently 9-4 with a 2.68 ERA and 133 strikeouts in 131 innings.

“Nobody in here is untouchable,” Cortes said. “Honestly, before everybody was here under the bright lights, everybody took their own path to get here and struggled. Some more than others. Just take me, for example. It took about three years to find out who I was and find my way. So I would say to not give up and keep striving forward, and hopefully it turns around.”

Other late bloomers — like San Diego Padres infielder Brandon Drury, Seattle Mariners first baseman Ty France and Minnesota Twins right-hander Jorge López — have put the league on notice and been impactful for postseason contenders. Even those on teams not in a playoff race — like Rangers first baseman Nathaniel Lowe, Chicago Cubs outfielder Ian Happ, Oakland A’s left-hander Cole Irvin and Angels outfielder Taylor Ward — have continued to thrive.

“I think the biggest thing is understanding yourself as early as you possibly can,” Happ said. “It might sound bad, but being so stubborn to who you are. Understanding that version of yourself is really good, the competent version of yourself that has a lot of belief. That guy is a really good baseball player. Because if you're good enough to get there, you're good enough to stay.”

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