Baseball America 2020 MLB Rookie Of The Year Watch: Week 1
Below is the first in-season edition of our weekly Rookie of the Year stock watch. All statistics are through July 29.
1.Kyle Lewis, OF, Mariners
Lewis suffered a catastrophic knee injury two months into his pro career and suffered multiple setbacks in the following years. Finally healthy, he’s showing the prodigious talent that made him the 2016 Baseball America College Player of the Year. Lewis has been nothing short of a force in the early going, batting .458 (11-for-24) with 1.227 OPS as the Mariners No. 3 hitter while making highlight-reel plays in center field. He has a hit in every game he’s played this year, including four straight multi-hit games.
2. Luis Robert, OF, White Sox
The No. 2 prospect in baseball has done nothing to lose the mantle of AL Rookie of the Year favorite. Robert has hit .347 with an .897 OPS to start the season and is tied for the White Sox’s team lead in hits (8) and RBI (4). Once Lewis cools down, Robert will be right in the mix with him.
3. Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Athletics
Luzardo has made first two appearances out of the bullpen and delivered 6.2 innings with one earned run allowed and seven strikeouts, tied for the most in MLB among rookie pitchers. The No. 9 prospect on the BA Top 100 will be added to the A’s rotation soon and have the chance to put up gaudy numbers for a contending team.
Don’t Forget About
Nate Pearson, RHP, Blue Jays; Brady Singer, RHP, Royals
Pearson made his ML debut on Tuesday and pitched five scoreless innings against the Nationals, notching five strikeouts and getting stronger as the game went on. His spot in Toronto’s rotation won’t be vacated any time soon, and he has the stuff to be a dominant force immediately. Singer also had strong MLB debut with seven strikeouts over five innings against the Indians and will remain in the Royals rotation for the foreseeable future.
Tim Lopes, OF, Mariners
The 26-year-old Lopes was considered an organizational player by scouts until he debuted a swing change at Triple-A last year. He’s taken advantage of the playing time available on the rebuilding Mariners and has hit .412 (7-for-17) with a 1.209 OPS in the early going. He is tied for third among MLB rookies in hits behind only Lewis and Robert and has settled into the middle of the Seattle’s order.
1. Nico Hoerner, 2B, Cubs
All Hoerner does is hit. He hit his way to becoming a first-round pick at Stanford, he hit his way to the big leagues a year after being drafted and he’s hitting his way to the top of the NL Rookie of the Year race. Hoerner has started at second base in five of the Cubs’ six games over veteran options Jason Kipnis and David Bote and has hit .389 with an .813 OPS. He leads all NL rookies in hits (7), runs (4) and RBI (5), and recently became just the fourth player in Cubs history to record 20 RBI in his first 24 career games. Even with veteran options on the roster, Hoerner shows no signs of relinquishing the Cubs second base job and has a head start on the rest of the NL rookie field.
2. Dustin May, RHP, Dodgers
May got the emergency Opening Day start for the Dodgers after Clayton Kershaw suffered a back injury and made his second start in a heated environment against the Astros. He’s handled it all with aplomb, tossing a combined 7.2 innings with two runs allowed and seven strikeouts. May’s pitch count has been limited so far, but as he builds up, his deadly arsenal of a 96-100 mph sinker, devastating cutter and improving breaking ball will be fully unleashed.
3. Mitch Keller, RHP, Pirates
Keller’s first start already went better than anything that happened in his major league debut last year. Even with decreased velocity, he navigated through five innings with only two hits and one run allowed to pick up the win against the division rival Cardinals. As he continues to build up, look for his stuff to tick up to its normal levels and help him stay in the rebuilding Pirates rotation.
Don’t Forget About
Brusdar Graterol, RHP, Dodgers
The firebreathing righthander shook off a rough outing in San Francisco to do this against the Astros. With more outings like that, he’s going to find himself pitching in high-leverage relief sooner rather than later.
Edward Olivares, OF, Padres
Even in a crowded Padres outfield, Olivares is forcing his way into playing time. The 24-year-old outfielder has appeared in four of the Padres’ six games and is hitting .444 with a 1.101 OPS in the early going. Olivares had Padres officials buzzing during spring training and was one of their top performers in summer camp, and now is making himself a part of their big league picture.