When we talk about "impact" rookies, it's important to note that several rookies will be getting the call to the majors and will fail to help their team in any way, shape, or form. Coming up with a few big hits or making a couple of quality starts, however, could make a big difference at the end of a 162-game season. Here are some AL East rookies who I think can make an impact on their team's success in 2013. Click HERE for my NL East picks.
Jonathan Schoop, 2B: As a 20 year-old, Schoop wasn't overwhelmed in his Double-A debut in 2012. He had 14 home runs, 24 doubles, and 50 walks in 124 games playing primarily second base, which just happens to be the position the O's could be looking to upgrade at some point in 2013. If Brian Roberts fails to stay healthy again, Alexi Casilla and/or Ryan Flaherty could help to fill the void but a strong first half for Schoop could have him in position for an early August promotion for the stretch drive a la Manny Machado.
Dylan Bundy, RHP: The O's head into 2013 with enough rotation depth to compete in the AL East once again. What they will lack early in the season, though, is someone with a pitch arsenal as strong as Bundy, who shot through the minors as a 19 year-old before a late-season cup of coffee in the majors. He'll start the season in either Double-A or Triple-A, where the O's could monitor his workload before unleashing him on big league hitters at some point after June 1st.
Jackie Bradley, Jr., OF: A competitive Red Sox team with a healthy outfield is unlikely to call on Bradley, their likely center fielder and leadoff hitter of the future, in 2013. But if the 22 year-old can continue to show an ability to reach base at a high rate in the upper minors — he had a .430 OBP between Double-A and Hi-A last season — while the big league outfield struggles to produce and stay on the field, don't rule him out.
Steven Wright, RHP: The 28 year-old Wright had a terrific 2012 season and continues to get better at his craft, meaning that the Red Sox could have another knuckleballer on their roster less than two seasons removed from Tim Wakefield's last start. Wakefield, of course, debuted in Boston as a 28 year-old in 1995 and ended up winning 186 games for the Sox over the next 17 seasons.
David Adams, 2B/3B: Injuries derailed his 2010-11 seasons but Adams returned in 2012 to post an .834 OPS in 86 Double-A games followed by a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League. The 25 year-old has played mostly second base throughout his career but he made 23 starts last season at third base, a position he could be called upon to fill at some point with Alex Rodriguez's status up in the air after hip surgery and Kevin Youkilis very unlikely to play in more than 120 games at the position.
Mark Montgomery, RHP: The Yankees currently have some question marks in the bullpen with Mariano Rivera returning from knee surgery and David Aardsma and Joba Chamberlain expected to be an important part of the group despite each missing most of 2011-12 because of injuries. There is no question, however, who the Yankees will be looking at to step in if things aren't going well. That would be Montgomery, who has completely dominated in two minor league seasons, plus a dominant stint in the Arizona Fall League (10.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 5 BB, 19 K).
Wil Myers, OF: With Sam Fuld, Ryan Roberts, and Brandon Guyer the likely candidates to fill a corner outfield spot early in the season, Rays fans will be counting the days until the 22 year-old Myers, a man among boys in the minors last year, gets the call to the majors. He's expected to spend enough time in Triple-A to push back his arbitration clock one season. UPDATE 1:15 PM ET: The Rays have signed second baseman Kelly Johnson to a one-year deal. This shouldn't affect Myers' ETA much but there's now a stronger chance that he takes a starting job from a regular who is slumping or injured, as opposed to just a group of average-to-below average players keeping the spot warm for him.
Chris Archer, RHP: The Rays could go with the safe pick, Alex Cobb, as the number five starter to open the season but make no mistake that it's the 24 year-old Archer who has the potential to fill James Shields' shoes at the top of the rotation. He may not reach that potential in 2013 but the Rays will want to give him a long look just in case.
Kirby Yates, RHP: If you're looking for a dark horse candidate to help out in the bullpen, look no further than the guy who struck out 94 hitters in 68 Double-A innings in 2012. The 25 year-old Yates also saved 16 games and posted a 2.65 ERA in 50 relief appearances.
Marcus Stroman, RHP: The 22nd pick in the 2012 draft, Stroman was expected to move quickly. The Jays pushed him to Double-A after seven appearances with short-season Vancouver but a 50-game suspension for P.E.D. use put a halt to any possible thoughts of a September call-up. The 5-foot-9 right-hander could be right back on the radar, however, after a few months in the upper minors. He could be setting up for Sergio Santos or Casey Janssen late in the season as the Jays try to lock up their first division title since 1993.