MLB Preseason Rookie Of The Year Watch
This year, Baseball America will be introducing weekly rookie power rankings to track which rookies are making the biggest impact and pulling to the front of the Rookie of the Year races.
This is not a reordering of the BA Top 100, but simply a look at which rookies are having the biggest impact on Major League Baseball week by week.
Here are our preseason rookie power rankings for each league, based on both talent and opportunity. Our rookie power rankings will be updated each week throughout the season.
You can find our preseason Top 20 rookie rankings here.
1. Luis Robert, OF, White Sox
The No. 2 prospect in baseball starred in summer camp and will open the year as the White Sox’s starting center fielder. His power, speed and superb baseball instincts have him in position to make an immediate, loud contribution.
2. Austin Hays, OF, Orioles
Hays is set to open the season as the Orioles’ starting center fielder and likely leadoff hitter. He has battled injuries throughout his career, but showed what he’s capable of when healthy by batting .309/.373/.574 with Baltimore last September.
3. Sean Murphy, C, Athletics
Murphy took over as the A’s catcher in the middle of the playoff push last year and handled himself impressively well. He will open the season as the A’s starting catcher and has both the offensive and defensive skills to be a difference-maker, although health is a concern after two knee surgeries last year.
4. Brendan McKay, LHP, Rays
McKay got his first taste of the majors last year and should be more comfortable after getting familiar with the league. He’ll be one of many pitchers the Rays utilize to get through this unconventional season and has the talent for a breakthrough.
5. Nick Solak, 2B/OF, Rangers
Solak has a long track record of hitting and batted .293/.393/.491 in his debut last year. He’ll be in the Rangers’ starting lineup from the outset and has the talent to move up the lineup as the year progresses.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT
Luzardo and Puk were likely to be in the A’s rotation before Luzardo tested positive for COVID-19 and Puk suffered a shoulder strain. Once they’re ready to return, they have the talent to make an outsized impact on the AL playoff race. Adell and Pearson won’t break camp with their respective teams, but their time is coming.
RHP Jose Urquidy, Astros
Urquidy pitched to a 3.95 ERA with the Astros last year and was dominant in the playoffs, highlighted by a performance of five scoreless innings to win Game 4 of the World Series. He is on the 10-day injured list for undisclosed reasons, but will be a key part of the Astros' rotation if and when he’s able to return.
Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, OF/DH, Rays
Tsutsugo was one of Japan’s pre-eminent home run hitters and signed with the Rays for two years and $12 million in the offseason. He’ll provide valuable lefthanded power and should get plenty of playing time.
RHP Brady Singer, Royals
Singer logged a 1.96 ERA in his final nine starts at Double-A to close out last season and pitched his way into the Royals' 2020 plans with a strong summer camp. Whether or not he breaks camp with the team, he put himself in position to get an opportunity at some point, especially with Kansas City in dire need of capable starters.
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1. Gavin Lux, 2B, Dodgers
Lux arrived late to summer camp for undisclosed reasons and will start the season at the Dodgers' alternate training site to get caught up. Once he’s ready, he’ll be part of the Dodgers’ second base mix and has the talent to gain an increased role as the season progresses.
2. Carter Kieboom, 3B, Nationals
The Nationals previously announced Kieboom would be their starting third baseman before clarifying he will share time with Asdrubal Cabrera. Kieboom has barely played third and may require an adjustment period, but he’s a patient, sound contact hitter who should be more comfortable after getting his first taste of the majors last season.
3. Kwang-Hyun Kim, LHP, Cardinals
The Korean signee impressed in spring training with a slider that was closer to plus than its previously reported average grade. The Cardinals announced he will start the season as the team’s closer, a role he never filled in Korea but has the poise to handle.
4. Nico Hoerner, 2B, Cubs
Hoerner impressed greatly in summer camp and will team with Jason Kipnis to handle most of the Cubs’ second base duties. The gifted natural hitter held his own in his major league debut last year and is in prime position to become a mainstay in the Cubs' lineup.
5. Shogo Akiyama, OF, Reds
The addition of the DH in the NL opened up more playing time in the Reds outfield for Akiyama. Japan’s all-time single-season hits leader is a mature, technically sound player who has a chance to hit for a high average and play a strong center field for the playoff-hopeful Reds.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT
The Cardinals plan to open the season with Dexter Fowler, Tyler O’Neill, Harrison Bader and Lane Thomas as their outfielders, but Carlson will be ready and waiting at the alternate training site if any of them falter. May likely won’t open the year in the Dodgers' rotation, but he can bide his time as an effective bullpen weapon until called upon to start.
Mitch Keller, RHP, Pirates
Keller got hit hard in his debut last year (1-5, 7.13) but showed some promising underlying qualities. He’ll open the season in the Pirates' rotation and has a chance to flourish with a new coaching staff and organizational pitching philosophy.
Brusdar Graterol, RHP, Dodgers
Graterol already has arguably the best pure stuff of any Dodgers' reliever. If he fine-tunes his control a tick and Kenley Jansen continues to falter, he’ll be in position to assume the closer role and get the save opportunities needed to be a ROY candidate.
Sam Hilliard, OF, Rockies
Hilliard hit .273/.356/.649 while playing all three outfield positions in a smashing debut last year. With Ian Desmond opting out of the season and the addition of the DH to the National League, Hilliard’s avenues for playing time this season have widened greatly.