Back in January, MLB.com published a list of MLB rookies they thought could vie for the title of Rookie of the Year this season. This list was naturally a little bit preemptive, having been published well before the start of the regular season. And while we’re only a couple of months in right now, we at least have a better idea of who might be looking good for the title.
As such, we’d like to take another look at the MLB rookies on their list and see how they’ve been doing this season. We’d also like to take a look at six other MLB rookies who seem to be looking pretty good, but who were not on the aforementioned list. With all of the MLB rookies mentioned below, we will take a look at why they might stand out this season. Some of them might have raw talent, while others may just be the product of really good managers. Either way, let’s take a look at some of the new talent gracing the diamond in 2015.
Rusney Castillo started for the Boston Red Sox in September of last year as a center fielder. The Cuban national appears to have made the list primarily due to the size of his contract ($72.5 million over seven years), but that isn’t to say that he hasn’t established himself as a solid outfielder prior to entering the majors. Unfortunately, while he’s probably not the least talented of the MLB rookies mentioned in this list, it’s doubtful that his performance will improve enough to win Rookie of the Year. He seems to have an obsession with groundballs, and has yet to really improve his line drive. He’s had a couple of decent homers here and there, but in general his batting percentage just isn’t great. He also doesn’t seem to know how to draw a walk, which could be a problem given the caliber of the pitchers he’s up against.
Andrew Heaney was supposed to pitch left-handed for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and he was added to January’s list not long after his trade to the Angels had taken place. Unfortunately, he doesn’t actually belong on a list of MLB rookies, nor is he precisely sure when he is going to. He’s stuck in the minors right now, playing for the Salt Lake City Bees. But given that he hasn’t let it get in the way of his desire to be the best player he can be, we can only hope that he proves himself and manages to make the big leagues at a later date.
Alex Meyer is another pitcher who only wound up on the list because it was expected that he would be pitching in the big leagues by now, namely for the Minnesota Twins. There are some who think that he still should be, as his performance in the minors has been less than stellar. But if he can regain his old skills, then he could be a solid addition to the Twins’ rotation. He would be making MLB Rookie of the Year this year, but he could still perform nicely in the majors next year if he gets his game back up to speed.
Daniel Norris is, much like the two pitchers above, playing in the minors after a rough start with the Toronto Blue Jays. Actually, it was a pretty decent start, but he was still demoted after what Toronto apparently considered a lackluster performance. However, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t still considering him as an addition to their roster. The left-handed pitcher is playing pretty well in his current position, and manager John Gibbons has explicitly stated that the team is still interested in having him. His Rookie of the Year candidacy is pretty much blown at this point, but given that multiple sites had tagged him as a candidate prior to the start of the season, he could still have a pretty bright future.
Dalton Pompey has a similar story to many of the other American League players that MLB.com had noted as one of the more promising MLB rookies before the start of the season. In fact, his story is strikingly similar to that of Daniel Norris. The center fielder started for the Blue Jays this season, but was ultimately dropped to triple-A where he played for the Buffalo Bisons. Now, he has recently been moved to double-A. With some having thought at the beginning of the year that he’d be one of the more promising MLB rookies around, the move is more than a little bit disappointing.
Aaron Sanchez is a rarity among the MLB rookies listed as National League Rookie of the Year candidates by MLB.com, in that he is actually still pitching in the majors. Manager Gibbons seems to have a lot of respect for the young rookie, and although his Tuesday start against the Mets was pushed back due to fatigue, Gibbons believes that he is a hard worker and a strong player, and does not want to risk losing him by overworking him. He’s not necessarily the strongest candidate for Rookie of the Year, but the praise he’s received from his manager ranks him as one of the more respected MLB rookies on MLB.com’s American League list.
Yasmany Tomas, much like Rusney Castillo, appears to have topped the list on MLB.com due to his contract ($68.5 million over six years). However, it was also expected that the Cuban native would be a strong performer in a role on either third base or corner outfield after he joined the Arizona Diamondbacks. And so far, he’s been proving himself to be pretty useful. He’s not necessarily Rookie of the Year material, but he nabbed a home run to score two runs in a loss against the Dodgers the other day, with decent RBI in his last few games. The Diamondbacks are underdogs against most teams at the moment, but his performance still shines on the diamond. And the decision by team president Derrick Hall to move him from third base to right outfield has only made him better.
Archie Bradley has had a rough time pitching for the Diamondbacks, and initial predictions that he might be a candidate for Rookie of the Year have turned out to be pretty far off the mark. He’s been giving up a lot of hits, runs, and walks, and there are a lot of Arizona fans who would like to see him out of the majors right now. To be fair, he has had some issues with tendinitis that have caused him a lot of grief this season. But his 5.80 ERA is still much lower than what fans would like to see, especially on a team that’s already struggling.
Jorge Soler, Cuban outfielder for the Chicago Cubs, was expected to make some pretty big waves this season. Unfortunately, he experienced a slight upset when he suffered an ankle injury at the beginning of June and wound up being put on the disabled list. At the time of writing, his time on the disabled list is still not finished. Luckily, it was reported just a few days after his injury that he may very well be able to return as soon as his fifteen days on the disabled list is up. Chicago had expected him to be one of the best MLB rookies around, although he has experienced some difficulties with over five dozen strikeouts so far. Nonetheless, he was improving at the time of his injury, and the Cubs’ hitting consultant has hopes that this improvement will continue when he returns to the game.
Noah “Thor” Syndergaard, pitching for the New York Mets, has not quite been the powerhouse that some were expecting him to be. Playing against the San Diego Padres earlier this month, he saw a rise in his ERA despite ten strikeouts. He blamed bad luck for his performance, although team manager Terry Collins felt that the issue was with Syndergaard’s pitching style. That said, he can throw a fastball at 98 MPH, and his ERA of 3.77 isn’t so terrible that it’s hurt his place in the rotation. But he definitely needs to work on his pitching and stop blaming bad luck, as he did against the San Francisco Giants earlier this week. He claims that the key to improving is to “have a short memory,” but his recent performances suggest that he should be taking the opposite approach.
Kris Bryant has been phenomenal as Chicago’s third baseman this season, especially as far as batting is concerned. He’s made waves with his .286 batting average and 34 RBI, not to mention the seven homers he’s knocked out of the park this season so far. He already has a Topps card to his name, and votes for the All-Star game have him currently ranked in second. As of now, he’s definitely one of the top prospects in the National League as far as Rookie of the Year is concerned. Even if he doesn’t get it, he’ll definitely be remembered as at least one of the best MLB rookies of the 2015 season. Given his star power with the fans, he’ll be remembered as one of the most popular if nothing else.
Joc Pederson is currently Kris Bryant’s primary opponent for Rookie of the Year in the National League. As an outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers, he’s managed to make headlines a few times this season. The most recent was his astounding catch against Yasmany Tomas, which basically clinched the game by preventing a home run that would have given Arizona the lead. He also made headlines just earlier this month when he managed to nab home runs in five games in a row. He has seventeen home runs altogether, and is currently thought to be one of the best power hitters in the league. If any of the MLB rookies mentioned on this list have a shot at smearing Kris Bryant’s chances at a Rookie of the Year title, it’s definitely Joc Pederson.
The above examples all pertain to one list, but other sports news outlets had their own favored MLB rookies for Rookie of the Year. A couple of those listed below are from the list by USA Today, while others are simply rookies that have recently made a decent name for themselves in the news by making some astounding plays.
From the American League, we have Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis. Not only has he established himself as a strong second baseman, but also as a decent hitter. It seemed as if he might have encountered some trouble when he was nailed in the shoulder by a ball in late April, but he played a game in the minors with the Buffalo Bisons in late May and showed himself to be recovering just fine (although his skill level was not quite up to where it had been). With seven homers, 26 RBI, and a .271 batting average, there are some who think that a recovered Devon Travis could easily make American League Rookie of the Year.
Also from the American League is Delino DeShields, Jr. of the Texas Rangers. The 22-year-old second baseman and center fielder has already been named the American League’s Rookie of the Month in May (the National League spot went to Kris Bryant) after he scored 22 runs with a .296 average and 9 RBI. And while DeShields was a bit star-struck to be playing alongside Josh Hamilton, he hasn’t let that get in the way of his ability to play serious ball. He’s made some rookie mistakes here and there, such as trying to steal third when he should have stayed on base, but manager Jeff Banister has full confidence that DeShields will learn from the mistake and become an even better player for it.
Then, from the National League, we have South Korean shortstop Jung Ho Kang of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Kang was taken off the bench in May, with two home runs, five doubles, and a .299 batting average. While he experienced something of a slump in which his average over ten games or so dropped down to about .103, Kang is now experiencing a surge in confidence. Manager Clint Hurdle believes that Kang is brimming with authenticity, not to mention a mindset toward working hard for his team. He currently has a .280 average, which is a bit lower than it was. But that’s with one extra home run and 20 RBI, so it’s hard to say that he isn’t improving. He might not make Rookie of the Year, but he’s still one of the top MLB rookies to watch right now.
Steven Souza, Jr. is another player for the American League, playing right field for the Tampa Bay Rays. But it’s on home plate where he shows his real star power. He’s hit twelve home runs this year so far with a .213 average and 28 RBI, and one of his home runs back in April went for 463 feet (the longest of the season at the time). But whether or not he qualifies for Rookie of the Year isn’t even the biggest concern that Souza has for himself right now. He’s faced a bit more adversity than some other MLB rookies and, as far as he’s concerned, this season has demonstrated that his personal issues are behind him. He doesn’t need a title to feel like a success this season.
Joey Gallo plays third base for the Texas Rangers in the American League, and it’s amazing how much press he’s gotten in just a couple of weeks since he debuted in the majors earlier this month. Of course, this wasn’t without any effort on his part. He did a killer job at bat during his debut, and he’s been knocking major home runs out of the park ever since. Even more astounding, he’s doing it all like a childlike sense of innocence, finding joy in the simple things such as the food offered to the team when on the road. Since Gallo only joined the majors to sub in for teammate Adrian Beltre (who suffered a sprained thumb), no one is sure what the future will hold for him following Beltre’s recovery. But for now, he’s one of the more astounding MLB rookies to take the diamond.
The last of the MLB rookies worth examining hails from the National League. Chris Heston, right-handed pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, made history when he pitched a no-hitter against the New York Mets earlier this week. Why would that make history? Because no rookie playing for San Francisco has managed to pitch a no-hitter in more than 100 years. While he’s had his occasional struggles much like any rookie, this is not his first amazing game. At the end of May he pitched seven perfect innings against the Houston Astros, allowing the Giants to take an easy lead. If he keeps pitching like this, he’s going to establish himself as one of the best MLB rookies on the mound by leaps and bounds.
Only time will tell which of the above eighteen MLB rookies will make Rookie of the Year in their league, but there are certainly a lot of solid contenders as well as a few decent players to watch regardless of their chances. The season’s far from over, so who knows? More rookies might start to show their prowess over time. We can only hope.