A.L. and N.L. Rookie of the Year Radar
Team: Chicago White Sox
Height: 6″3 Weight: 255 lbs.
Birth Place: Cienfuegos, Cuba
Born: January 29th, 1987 Age (26)
Chicago needed to replace aging first-baseman Paul Konerko this past off-season. The Rangers were looking to add depth to 1B/DH. And the Astros wanted to add depth to the 1B/DH slot despite Chris Carter’s 29HR break-out season. But it was the White Sox who nabbed Abreu for 6-year’s $68 Million. Jose got their attention in the 2013 World Baseball Classic by hitting 9-for-25 (.360) Avg. (6 Runs,2B, 3HR’s, 9RBI’s, SB). Abreu, flirted with two Triple Crowns in the Cuban National Series league where he became known as a 30-homer guy and a dominant clean-up hitter. Abreu has been amazing for the White Sox in 2014. They have him hitting in 3rd in their lineup. He’s 18-for-74 (.243/.337/.541) (5 2B’s, 3B, 5 HR’s, 17RBI’s, 8:17 BB:K). He’s in a sense like a poor man’s Miguel Cabrera. If he goes 0-for-4 in a game, he can’t help you win with his glove like other Cuban stars like Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig. Abreu easily has 30HR 100RBI potential if he can play the whole season. I think the Rookie of the Year will go to either him or Masahiro Tanaka.
Team: Boston Red Sox
Height: 6″3 Weight: 185 lbs.
Born: October 1st, 1992. Age (21)
Birth Place: Oranjestad, Aruba
Moved up to the No. 2 Prospect coming in to the season, Bogaerts is poised for a nice 2014. Xander came on the scene in a big way hitting 8-for-27 (.296) Avg. during the playoffs in October. He only played 18 games for the Red Sox last season. Hitting 11-for-44 (.250/.320/.364) (2 2B’s, HR, 5RBI’s, SB). He hit southpaws well going 7-for-15 (.467) Avg. but struggled vs. RHP going 4-for-29 (.138) Avg.. He has started out 2014 hitting 17-for-63 (.270/.410/.356). He already has 11 walks this year with .410 On-Base-Percentage. This indicates he has a good eye and is patient at the plate. He’s hitting southpaws well again this year starting out 6-for-16 (.375) Avg.. The good thing about Xander is he doesn’t have to deal with the pressures of someone taking his job. The Red Sox will let Bogaerts play everyday and sometimes put him at the top of the lineup.
Team: Detroit Tigers
Height: 6″4 Weight: 210 lbs.
Born: March 4th, 1992. Age (22)
Birth Place: Davie, Florida
Drafted: 44th Pick in 2010 (MLB Amateur Draft) out of McCarthy HS (FL)
Nick Castellanos was a big reason why the Detroit Tigers traded Prince Fielder this off-season. He’s coming off a nice spring training for the Tigers. Hitting 21-for-63 (.333) Avg. with (9 2B’s, 2HR’s, 16RBI’s, 2SB’s). Known as a better hitter than defender, Nick was listed as the No. 21 prospect prior to this season by MLB.com and Baseball America. Nick owns a career (.303) Avg. in the minors but combined for a (.271) Avg. his past 2 seasons at Double-A and Triple-A. That’s why many scouts project him hitting around (.260) this season. He started hitting HR’s the second-half of the season for Triple-A Toledo in 2013. He hit (.276) 18HR’s, 76RBI’s in 134 games. But Castellanos has struck gold by playing for one of the best lineups in baseball. His power-stroking ability on this roster should help him pile up strong numbers this season. He show’s patience at the plate, a strong strike-out rate, and isolated power. He doesn’t have overwhelming speed, but should be good for 6-8 stolen bases this year. Just like any other rookie, risk factors still exist in his game.
Team: Houston Astros
Height: 6″3 Weight: 204 lbs.
Born: September 19, 1989. Age (24)
Birth Place: New Britian, Conneticut
Draft: 2011 1st Round Pick (11th) Overall Pick by Houston Astros
George seems to have it all. He’s an outstanding athlete, plays great defense, has a strong arm and blazing speed. He broke out in 2012 hitting (.327) with 17 Doubles, 18 Home-Runs, and 21 SB’s in 104 Minor League games. Springer is known for his aggressive style of play on offense and defense. At the plate he’s a free-swinger and ultra aggressive at the plate. He will probably hit for low-average in the majors due to his aggressive swigning and huge hacks. He struggles with breaking balls out of the zone and lacks contact ability. But he has tons of strength and bat speed. Springer has strong power on the pull side and can drive ball to opposite field. He has the potential for a 25HR/25SB type season if his contact rate improves. The Astros are tinkering with him hitting 3rd or clean-up in the Astros lineup. We will all find out if Springer can turn his raw talent into something special.
Team: New York Yankees
Height: 6″2 Weight: 205 lbs.
Born: November 1st, 1988 (Age 25)
Birth Place: Itami, Japan
Tanaka had his first experience playing baseball in 1st grade. He played catcher for his little league team in Japan. He ended up becoming an amazing pitcher during high school. Helping Tomakomai win the Summer Koshien Tournament (equivalent to a state championship) in 2004 and 2005. He decided against college in 2006 and entered into the NPB draft. The Golden Eagles won the draft lottery and spent their first round pick on Tanaka. He made his debut March 29th, 2007, coincidentally the same day Cy Young was born 140 years before. In 1.2 innings he gave up 5 runs and was seen in the dugout crying, vowing to never be ineffective again. Well it looks like he stuck to his promise. His NPB stats are crazy. In 5 seasons he’s posted a 1.83ERA with a 8.3 K/9 rate. He doesn’t give up the long ball either. Tanaka has also enjoyed success as a relief pitcher in the World Baseball Classic. At just 25 years-old, his resume represents a hall-of-fame potential player. He reminds me of a different version of Yu Darvish. That’s why the Yankees gave him $155 Million. They saw what a guy like Yu Darvish can do and wasn’t gonna let him get away. It would nearly take 2 pages to describe all the awards and accomplishments in Japan. But in the U.S. he hasn’t slowed down a bit. He was only the second rookie pitcher in the past 113 years to have 8K’s or more in his first 3 career starts. He’s been nearly perfect through his first 3 starts with New York. He’s 2-0 (22IP, 15Hits, 5Runs, 2BB’s, 28K’s) which is good for a 2.05ERA 0.77WHIP. He’s gonna be pretty hard to beat for the ROY award much less for the Cy Young.
Team: Kansas City Royals
Height: 5″11 Weight: 180 lbs.
Born: June 3rd, 1991 Age (22)
Birth Place:Samana, Dominican Republic
Yordano Ventura is a name you want to know now that the Royals have added the 22-year old phenom to the starting rotation. He had a nice spring training pitching 15 innings only giving up 10 hits, 1 walk, 3 runs and striking out 15 for a 1.76ERA. Ventura is the Royals #2 Prospect and the #26th overall prospect by the Baseball America and Fan Graphs heading into the 2014 season. He’s known for throwing 100+MPH and has a nice four-seam and two-seamer fastball. He also has a nice cutter and 98-mph sinker. He had a 3.11ERA in the Minors in 124 innings with 106 K’s. Yordano has been great in his 3 starts this season. He already has 19 strikeout’s in just 17 innings pitched. He has only given up 12 hits with a 2.65ERA 1.12WHIP. Ventura has had a little control issue walking 3 vs. HOU and 4 in another start vs. the Twins. As long as he stays in control of his command he should have a nice rookie campaign.
Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Height 5″9 Weight: 185 lbs.
Born: October 10th, 1990 (Age 23)
Birth Place: Hilo, Hawaii
Draft: 2008 16th Round by the Minnesota Twins out of HS/2011 1st Round (22nd Overall) by St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals moved second baseman Matt Carpenter to third base (his natural position) this offseason with David Freese being traded to the Angels. That left second base wide open for the rookie prospect Kolten Wong to fill. Wong had a nice spring training, batting 18-for-48 (.375/.434/.646) (5 2B’s, 3B, 2HR’s, 9RBI’s, 2SB’s). But he’s only hitting 14-for-59 (.237/.297/.288) (2B, 3B, 5RBI’s, 3SB’s) so far in 2014. As we all know spring stats don’t always translate into regular season numbers, but Wong has a lot more time to prove himself. The Cardinals have made it obvious they are committed to have Wong as the everyday second-baseman. They might have given him some extra motivation though by signing veterean Mark Ellis this offseason. A lot of hype surrounding Wong is what he did in the minors. Kolten was brought up directly to AA for 2012, and had a nice season, hitting (.287/.348/.405) with 9 HR’s and 21 SB’s. The stats that jumps out from that season was that he struck out just 12.8% of the time and nearly matched that with a walk rate just under 8%. In 2013 for Triple-A Memphis, he played in 103 games hitting (.303) with 10HR’s. He also appeared in 32 games down the stretch last season and 7 playoff games. If he can hit around .285 and steal 20+ bases he can be in the running for National League Rookie of the Year.
Team: Arizona Diamondbacks
Height: 5’10 Weight: 190 lbs.
Born: August 12th, 1991. Age (22)
Birth Place: Charleston, South Carolina
Draft: First Round Pick in 2009 by Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks needed serious help at shortstop. Owings made his debut with Arizona after a September call-up last season. Chris won the 2013 Pacific West Coast MVP and Rookie of the Year. He came into spring training battling 2 sub-par players in Didi Gregorious and Cliff Pennington. His weaknesses early on in the minors were he had little patience at the plate and he struggles with hitting into double-plays. What might be the best part about his game is his arm and glove. He has soft hands and excellent technique. He hit 15-for-52 (.288) Avg. (3 Doubles, 1 Triple, 1HR, 6RBI’s, 4:7 BB:K) during spring and has locked down the starting SS role. Owings has had a solid start to 2014. He’s hitting 17-for-58 (.293) Avg. (4 Runs, 3 Doubles, 4 SB’s). It looks like spring wasn’t a fluke and he already has 4 steals. Owings is battling Hamilton and Wacha as one of the front-runners as the National League ROY so far.
Team: Cincinatti Reds
Height: 6″0 Weight: 160 lbs.
Born: September 9th, 1990 Age (23)
Birth Place: Collins, Mississippi
Draft: 2009 2nd Round by the Cincinatti Reds
Hamilton is one of the most hyped-up rookie’s I’ve seen in a while. Even more hype than Puig at times because he was just torturing us by staying down in the minors last season. One thing everyone kept repeating “He has 100 stolen base potential”. Well Hamilton will have a full season in the majors to show us what he can do. The Reds announced Hamilton as the teams starting center fielder after the Rangers signed Choo to a seven-year $138 million deal. Hamilton had an eye-popping 408 steals in 493 attempts over his 5 minor-league seasons. His speed his legandary and has the chance to re-write the rookie record books. Speed is his strength, but let’s talk about his weakness, his bat. He has always had issues putting the ball in play, making contact and swinging a consistent bat. Obviously he was down in the minors for 5 years for a reason. Hamilton tends to swing at pitches outside the zone and has very little leverage which leads many to question if he’ll ever have power. Billy also has the habit of dropping the barrel of the bat to bad angles during a bunt which can lead to foul balls or pop-out bunt attempts. It would be nearly impossible for a rookie to replace Shin-Soo Choo’s production from last season. The Reds have placed him at the lead-off spot and he’s hitting 13-for-61 (.213/.250/.279) with (6 Runs, 2 2B’s, 3B, 2RBI’s, 7SB’s, 3:15 BB:K). It’s a far cry from what the Reds want from their lead-off hitter but its still very early in the season and Hamilton has room to improve.
Team: Arizona Diamondbacks
Born: August 10th, 1992 (Age 21)
Birth Place: Muskogee, Oklahoma
College: Oklahoma (Football)
Drafted: 1st Round (7th) Overall Pick by Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Diamondbacks were devestated when the news of Patrick Corbin needing Tommy John Surgery broke. Corbin was the No. 1 pitcher according the Fan Graphs TMR ranking last season. It will be asking a little much to replace what Corbin did for Arizona last season. A lot of his projections might be overrated because he hasn’t faced Triple-A hitters yet. Archie should be called up any day now but the D-Backs are reluctant on him skipping Triple-A all together. Bradley is the only player on this list not currently in the majors. In his 4 seasons in the minors (A & AA), he pitched 306 innings, only giving up 217 hits, 12HR’s, but a high number of walks (159), and 330K’s (2.79ERA). He pitched 8.1 innings this spring giving up 8 hits, 4 runs, 6 walks, and 10K’s. (4.32ERA). As you can see he had command issues with all the walk in the minors and already has 6 in just over 8 innings in spring. That’s not exactly the vote of confidence Kirk Gibson needed from Bradley. But keep your eye on Bradley when he gets called-up.