Pre-Season Rookie of the Year Candidates – National League Edition

Posted: March 19, 2013 in by Freddy Berowski

Spring training is the time of year to speculate about prospects and which ones will make their major league debut during the season, and when they will get the call.  Many times those who are consensus picks to make an immediate impact fail at first, and in that time, new names emerge, that no one saw coming and thrust themselves into the spotlight.  Acknowledging that, here are my preseason picks of players who should be top contenders for the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year Award.

San Diego Padres: Jedd Gyorko, 2B

Screen shot 2013-03-19 at 3.10.21 PMGyorko has produced very well this spring, coming into the week with a .298/.327/.596 line and expected to win the Padres second base job out of camp.  Expect a good batting average and double digit home runs, but the power should dip a bit from the minor league numbers especially entering spacious Petco Park.  Gyorko should hit in a premium position in a relatively weak lineup, giving him a chance to drive in a good number of runs.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Adam Eaton, CF

The speedy center fielder is expected to open the season in the lead-off spot for the Diamondbacks.   Sporting a .358/.375/.491 line thus far this spring, Eaton should provide a good glove in the outfield and steal 25-30 bags in his rookie campaign.  The question is how often the 24-year-old can get on base in his freshman campaign, but a .350 OBP certainly isn’t out of the question.

St. Louis Cardinals: Trevor Rosenthal, P

Screen shot 2013-03-19 at 3.05.35 PMBowman’s 60th ranked prospect, Rosenthal should open the season in a set-up role for the big club.  Averaging a strikeout per inning for his minor league club, Rosenthal seems made for this role.  Although not the flashiest of positions as far as putting up numbers, middle relievers have begun to earn more love in recent seasons thanks in part to SABR metrics.  And playing on a team considered to be one of the pre-season favorites to win the NL Central, Rosenthal should get more exposure.

St. Louis Cardinals: Oscar Taveras, OF

It is pretty much a forgone conclusion that Taveras will start the season at AAA, but bet on the 20-year-old ending up in St. Louis sooner, rather than later.    Bowman’s number three overall prospect for 2013, Taveras can hit for power and average while playing multiple outfield positions.  Whether it’s due to an injury to Carlos Beltran or the need for another bat, I think Taveras will play his way into the big leagues by the end of May.  A .290 average with double digits in homers and steals the rest of the way would not surprise me.

Cincinnati Reds, Billy Hamilton, OF/SS

There are more questions about Billy Hamilton than anyone else on this list.  The Reds are transitioning him to the outfieldScreen shot 2013-03-13 at 7.31.40 PM and he will open the season at AAA.  Dusty Baker tends to use young players sparingly and rely more on his veterans, and the key to Hamilton’s success in the big leagues will be his ability to get on base.  Will the 22-year-old make it to the big leagues this year, and if he does will Dusty play him?  These are the two key questions.  Whether it is in the outfield or at short, B-Ham should make it to the show around mid-season and will find a way into the lineup more often than not.  If he can manage to get on base at a .350 clip, there’s no reason he can’t steal at least 30 bags in the second half with regular playing time.

New York Mets: Travis d’Arnaud, C

Expect d’Arnaud to open the season at AAA and once it is certain he won’t make Super-Two status, he’ll be promoted to the big club to take over the every day catching duties.  A premium defender, d’Arnaud has put up a .308/.387/.423 line through Monday, and has potential to hit for average and power with a .290/.360/.460 line from May through September.

New York Mets: Zack Wheeler, P

Screen shot 2013-03-13 at 7.34.48 PMLike d’Arnaud, Wheeler will open the season at AAA but it is only a matter of time before he joins the big club.  Potential Super-Two status should keep Wheeler down for a little bit, but questions about the health of Dillon Gee, Johan Santana and Shaun Marcum will have Wheeler’s phone number on speed dial.  Once he comes up, expect him to stay as he his my odds on favorite to take the NL ROY honors this year.  Last month CBS Sports Danny Knobler reported “One scout who saw Wheeler spring debut: ‘Same stuff as Strasburg. That will go down as best trade Sandy Alderson will make in his life.’”

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