Thursday, June 1, 2023

The top Rookie of the Year candidates in each league

As the preseason was underway, Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo took a moment to list the top five Rookie of the Year Award contenders for each league on the MLB Pipeline Podcast.

Callis focused on analyzing the National League candidates and Mayo on the American’s.

Here are the main candidates to win Rookie of the Year in 2023.

No. 5: Kodai Senga, LD, Mets

This is a man who shone in Japan at the World Baseball Classic and won an Olympic gold medal in the 2020 tournament held in 2021. I think they call it the “ghost fork”. No one can pitch like that. That fact alone makes him a contender for the award.

He also has a knife, as well as a slider. And he throws strikes. Despite signing for $75 million, he doesn’t get into a situation where he’s forced to be a team’s ace.

No. 4: Ezekiel Tovar, SS, Rockies, (MLB No. 25 prospect)

The Venezuelan made his first appearance with the Majors last year and played nine games with the Rockies in September at the age of 21. He clearly has talent. He can punch, he has some power and he can run a little bit. Plus, he’s one of the best defensive shortstops in the game.

No. 3: Miguel Vargas, INF, Dodgers (MLB No. 35)

I think the Cuban is one of the purest hitters in baseball. I feel like it’s a bit underrated. He’s never hit below .308 in the minors, but he’s never talked about him enough.

He has elite batting skills. Plus, he’s one of those guys who grew up with baseball. His father, Lázaro Vargas, was the BD of the Cuban team that won the 1992 and 1996 Olympics.

Miguel has developed strength, defensiveness and speed since he started in professional baseball. I think he’s a gifted hitter who, given the necessary at bats, could leave.

No. 2: Jordan Walker, OR, Cardenales (No. 4 de MLB)

He hasn’t played above Double-A and the Cardinals team is bursting with talent, but I think he has a combination of hitting and power that’s hard to ignore. Plus, he’s a solid right fielder after being pulled off third base late last year as Nolan Arenado isn’t going anywhere.

He’s got a great right field arm. He is a great all round athlete. I think he’ll make a good impression in camp and even if he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster, I don’t think he’ll stay in Triple-A very long.

No. 1: Corbin Carroll, OF, D-backs (MLB No. 2)

They traded Daulton Varsho in the off-season to clear room for him in the outfield. He made the majors and looked like a lifetime Major Leaguer in all 32 games he played last year.

It is one of the most complete prospects ever seen. He records 80 speed and 70 defense in midfield. He has strength and a big arm. It’s the complete package.

No. 5: Josh Jung, 3B, Rangers (No. 34 MLB)

First choice of 2019. Last year he tasted the big leagues. The only thing that has limited him is injuries. So he didn’t play that much in the minor leagues. He probably would have graduated long ago, but in the minor leagues he hasn’t done much more than hit. If you look at his minor league career, it’s like he’s got a full season, but he’s got an OPS over 1,000, 30 home runs, and he’s hit over .300. His combination of __ ability to get on the base for power will pay off and I think the job will be his.

No. 4: Hunter Brown, LD, Astros (No. 43 MLB)

The only thing Hunter Brown is in doubt about is what his role will be, because the Astros’ rotation is well-filled. I think he has shown that his stuff will pay off in the big leagues. He came up front last year and dominated and pitched well in the postseason. But I think even if he’s not in the rotation, he can be a long reliever out of the bullpen and have a huge impact that way. And then if someone gets hurt, they can be put into rotation if needed.

No. 3: Triston Casas, 1B, Red Sox (MLB No. 23)

Everything indicates that he will be the starting first baseman for Boston. What’s scary is that as unusual as his natural power is, he’s still learning how to use it. He’s a good hitter, he’s managed to keep his strikeouts low for a man of that much power. But if you look at his minor league numbers, he hasn’t hit endless home runs in the minors. I think he’s the kind of guy who will evolve with that power once he’s in the big leagues. And I think that’s the perfect combination of skill and opportunity, and I think his left-handed swing is going to work really well at Fenway Park. And he has power over all the banks, so I think he’ll put in very good numbers in the beginning.

At the. 2: Logan O’Hoppe, C, Angelinos (MLB No. 53)

I think he’s one of those guys who will continue to show that he’s better than expected. He came to the Angels in the trade for Brandon Marsh, broke loose and made it to the major leagues. I think he has ample opportunity to be their primary receiver. He’s very good behind the plate and I think that will keep him there. They will just keep playing because of how well they work with the pitchers. He’s got a good arm, but the power is starting to come out, and he might be better as a big leaguer than a prospect. So I think he’s going to be a man who far exceeds expectations.

No. 1: Gunnar Henderson, 3B/SS, Orioles (No. 1 **the MLB)
I feel like he and Corbin Carroll are the obvious choices here. Henderson came up front last year and he looked more than good and he was only 21 years old. He won’t turn 22 until June. He can play shortstop, he can play third base. And I think he’ll mostly be playing third base. There is power, there is speed. He showed all the tools when he made the jump from Double-A to the Major Leagues last year. He will be graduating from our list very soon, but there is no easier choice for the top of the AL roster.

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