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August 29, 2012

Future Shock

2013 Rookie of the Year Award

by Kevin Goldstein

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The 2012 American League Rookie of the Year race is over. Let's say Mike Trout doesn't get another hit for the rest of the year, going 0-for-125. He'd still finish the year with a .261 batting average, 24 home runs and 40-plus stolen bases. Now, anyone predicting Mike Trout for Rookie of the Year honors would not have exactly been going out on a limb, but how many people took Todd Frazier for National League honors before the season started? A look at winners of the award throughout history show a combination of obvious choices and plenty of surprises. So who does the crystal ball say are next year's nominees? Winning the RoY is a tough combination of talent and potential opportunity for playing time, so here are the big names, as well as some possible surprises in each league.

American League Favorites

1. Wil Myers, OF, Royals
If Myers isn't the best offensive prospect in baseball, he's certainly the best offensive prospect in the American League, and he's ready for big league action after spending most of the year at Triple-A, leading the minor leagues in total bases heading into the final week of the regular season. He might not see Kansas City at all this year, but he should be the everyday right fielder in 2013 and get the kind of at-bats needed to put up good counting stats.

2. Travis d'Arnaud, C, Blue Jays
D'Arnaud was on the verge of a mid-season callup this year as he hit .333/.380/.595 at Triple-A Las Vegas, but then he suffered a season-ending knee injury. He's the best catching prospect in baseball, and J.P. Arencibia just hasn't hit enough to hold onto the job, although he should be a nice trade chip this off-season due to positional scarcity. Catchers with this kind of offensive ceiling are rare, and d'Arnaud should be able to hit right away.

3. Dylan Bundy, RHP, Orioles
It would be amazing to see a 2011 high school draftee reach the big leagues so quickly, but if anyone can do it, it's Bundy. He has the stuff to succeed in the big leagues right now, and while he's not going to begin the year in Baltimore, he's a likely first half callup who would need to maximize his 125 or so big league innings to win it.

American League Sleepers

1. Nick Castellanos, OF, Tigers
Pushed to Double-A after hitting .405 during the first two months of the season at High-A Lakeland, he's slowed down in his first taste of the upper levels due to a lack of patience and power that is still more projectable than real. His ability to hit for average is real, however, and he could be an answer for Detroit in a corner.

2. Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Astros
This one could come down to Brett Wallace. We've seen the good and bad versions of Wallace in the big leagues, but Singleton is without question the first baseman of the future in Houston, and he's finishing his year strongly at Double-A while showing the ability to hit for average, hit for power, and draw plenty of walks. A hot start in Triple-A could create an opportunity.

American League Surprise

Jurickson Profar, SS, Rangers
Considered by many to be the best prospect in baseball, Profar isn't going to play without having the ability to play every day, and Elvis Andrus is signed through 2014. Some feel the Rangers wouldn't miss a step by replacing Andrus with Profar, and a two-year cost-controlled All-Star shortstop generates a big return on the trade market. It will be a story to watch this coming offseason. And if not this year, then next.

National League Favorites

1. Trevor Bauer, RHP, Diamondbacks
The National League is all about pitching, and Bauer tops the list based heavily on the adjustments he's made after struggling in his brief big league stint earlier this year. Bauer has simply become a more efficient pitcher, trusting his stuff within the strike zone, and no longer trying to get tricky with his secondary pitches; that only resulted in throwing too many pitches and walking too many batters. A strike-throwing version of Bauer is a terrifying talent who could rack up big strikeout numbers right away.

2. Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Diamondbacks
Bauer and Skaggs are almost neck-and-neck, but Skaggs staying in the Arizona rotation until the end of the season could bring him perilously close to the rookie eligibility limit of 50 innings. Skaggs has been impressive in his first two major league starts, as while he's been a bit wild, he's kept runs off the board with a plus fastball and even better curve. Just 21 years old, he's still getting better and is just a few refinements from taking off.

3. Shelby Miller, RHP, Cardinals
Six weeks ago, Miller would be nowhere close to consideration for this list, but after a brutal first half of the year that saw his ERA creep above six, he's returned to the Shelby Miller of old; in his last six starts, the 21 year old has whiffed 52 while walking just four in 38 1/3 innings. He's recovered his low-to-mid 90s velocity, he's rediscovered his plus breaking ball, he's throwing more strikes than ever, and he's going to compete for a job in the 2013 rotation.

National League Sleepers

1. Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals
Recently named the Texas League player of the year, Taveras is a better prospect than any of the favorites, but right now there's no obvious way to get him playing time in 2013. Matt Holliday is signed through 2016, Jon Jay is controlled for the same amount of time, and Carlos Beltran has one more year left on his deal. Having just turned 20 in June, there's no need to rush Taveras.

2. Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins
Yelich is almost the opposite of Taveras, in that he might not be ready yet, but the 2010 first-round pick has all sorts of opportunity, as only Giancarlo Stanton has locked down a permanent spot in the Miami outfield. Currently hitting .319/.394/.508 in the Florida State League, Yelich will begin next year as a 21-year-old in Double-A, and has the potential for a breakout year that forces the Marlins' hand.

National League Surprise

Billy Hamilton, SS, Reds
As a shortstop with steady defense and above-average power for the position, Zack Cozart isn't going anywhere. But what if the Reds do what many scouts would like to see, and move Hamilton to center field? Currently at 154 stolen bases and counting, Hamilton could earn votes solely on the excitement he brings to the field and his ability to fill up a single column on the stat sheet.

A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider Insider.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

Related Content:  Prospects,  Scouting,  Minor League Baseball

27 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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Eddie Bajek

One more nomination: Mike Zunino

Aug 29, 2012 08:45 AM
rating: 0
 
Peter7899

The Astros aren't in the American League!!!

Oh wait... nevermind. Damn that's gonna be weird.

Aug 29, 2012 08:50 AM
rating: 4
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Yeah. On my notes I had Singleton listed in the NL for a long time before I started putting it together.

Aug 29, 2012 09:15 AM
 
This guy

With the Astros being in the American League next year, Wallace should be a lot less of an impediment for Singleton though.

Aug 29, 2012 18:05 PM
rating: 1
 
mrenick

totally shocked me to see Singleton under the AL ROY section...it's just weird

Aug 29, 2012 09:16 AM
rating: 0
 
MatternK

Bet ya the NL ROY will be Gyorko.

Aug 29, 2012 08:51 AM
rating: 2
 
amazin_mess

I agree.

Aug 29, 2012 18:27 PM
rating: 0
 
mike1213
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

oscar taveras <3 no home oh

Aug 29, 2012 08:56 AM
rating: -16
 
grandslam28

Nolan Arenado could win 3b job in spring training, look for the comeback year in Coors if he makes the team.

Aug 29, 2012 09:19 AM
rating: 2
 
sgrcuts

No Gerrit Cole?

Aug 29, 2012 09:39 AM
rating: 0
 
apbadogs

Another Royal at the top of the lists...seeing Hosmer and Moustakas struggling this year I bet KC fans are wondering whether all these guys are going to pan out.

Aug 29, 2012 10:43 AM
rating: 0
 
maphal

If Hamilton moves to the outfield as rumored, almost no way conservative Walt and his farm directors allow Hamilton to get promoted before the end of 2013.

Aug 29, 2012 11:34 AM
rating: 1
 
BelongstotheReds

Billy Hamilton listed as OF on AFL roster...

Aug 29, 2012 11:35 AM
rating: 2
 
kddean

In regards to Taveras, is he so potentially good that the Cards could move guys like Holliday or Jay to open up time for him?
With guys like Freese, Craig, etc, don't they need to make some moves anyway?

Aug 29, 2012 12:37 PM
rating: 1
 
BarryR

Remember when the Cards didn't have a farm system, just Shelby Miller and "eh"? Now they have serious bats like Oscar Taveras and Matt Adams, both ready, and both completely blocked. Someone should try and trade for Adams with a SS of some kind involved.

Aug 29, 2012 12:39 PM
rating: 1
 
SC

Adams isn't blocked. Berkman's contract expires at the end of the year, and Adams is presumably the 2013 opening day starter.

Aug 29, 2012 21:12 PM
rating: 0
 
Behemoth

Allen Craig is much more likely as the Opening Day starter.

Aug 30, 2012 05:52 AM
rating: 1
 
John Douglass

Probably. But Craig is also 28 next year, and Adams will be only 24. Craig has a couple years left, if that, before he starts declining, and Adams hasn't yet entered what should be his best years, making Adams probably the better choice to make for both the present and the long-term. The choice of 4 more years of Craig, two of them after age 30, or six of Adams, all of them pre-30, is not an incredibly easy one when we figure in the uncertainty of prospects (Adams) and the likelihood of a post-30 decline (Craig).

Not that the Cardinals do--or need to--think in those terms as a team constantly in win-now mode that frequently flips it's best minor league talent for immediate help with a good deal of success.

Aug 30, 2012 08:25 AM
rating: -1
 
mattcollins

I was surprised to not see Adams on this list. If he wins the starting job, he will have the opportunity to lead NL rookies in many offensive categories.

Aug 30, 2012 09:28 AM
rating: 0
 
TGisriel

I'm assuming Machado will lose his rookie eligibility with the playing time he's getting this year.

Aug 29, 2012 13:17 PM
rating: 1
 
ethanwitte

No Darrin Ruf? :)

Aug 29, 2012 14:55 PM
rating: 2
 
JuanBobo

WHERE'S XANDER BOGAERTS? I THOUGHT YOU WERE A "PROFESSIONAL"

Aug 29, 2012 15:44 PM
rating: 2
 
Behemoth

It's a shame so many people actually took this comment as being intended seriously. Either that, or I'm giving people too much credit again.

Aug 30, 2012 05:54 AM
rating: 3
 
JuanBobo

I was being a jackass, I figured the ALL CAPS got that across. Apparently not.

Aug 30, 2012 08:59 AM
rating: 0
 
Hickjim
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

Great analysis, Kevin. From now on will you ONLY tweet links to your $$$ sites, so I can feel better about myself for subscribing to BP for $.11 a day.

Aug 29, 2012 20:56 PM
rating: -9
 
Deech

Dan Strailey is a solid bet. He'll probably oppen in the season in the rotation and won't have an innings limit. He could be a #3 starter in 2013, he has decent upside and solid polish.

Aug 30, 2012 09:52 AM
rating: 2
 
CalledStrike3

Yeah I like Straily too a little - as the AL seems to be wide open.
Other AL longshots -
Bruce Rondon closing in Detroit
Jake Odrizzi pitching in KC
Chris Archer in Tampa
Leonys Martin in CF Texas

NL -
Padre pitchers
Casey Kelly and Robbie Erlin
But I think you can circle Tavares - what a hitter this kid is

Aug 30, 2012 10:33 AM
rating: 1
 
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