Continuing a series that wasn’t supposed to be a series, I take a look at some upcoming Rookie of the Year candidates for the 2012 season. These are obviously a little tougher to pick, as we don’t know if all of these guys are even going to make their squads out of spring training, but it’s fun to play the game anyway. Again, with a nod to MLB Network and their “Prime 9″ series, let’s take a look at some interesting rookies, and who I think I think are in position to take home some hardware.
1. Yu Darvish SP (Rangers)
This may not be fair at all to the rest of the rookie crop, but what can you do? Technically speaking, Darvish is a rookie, despite all of the success that he had in Japan. Plus we have seen many Japanese import pitchers come over and not do as well as expected, so if Darvish puts up good numbers, I guess he would earn it. He is going to have support, Texas can score, and they can defend as well. His repertoire, experience, and teammates make him the leading candidate going into the season.
2. Jarrod Parker SP (A’s)
Parker came over to the A’s in the Trevor Cahill trade in the off-season. While he may not be known to many American League followers, Parker is one of the game’s brightest pitching prospects. Armed with 3 potential plus pitches, Parker has the tools to succeed. Pitching in Oakland is no doubt going to help him, so I wouldn’t put it past Parker to make a run at this award.
3. Brad Peacock SP (A’s)
Well, the A’s dealt away the majority of their rotation in the off-season, so someone is going to have to step into those roles. Peacock was one of the players they acquired for Gio Gonzalez, and he does have some potential. Peacock’s prospect status really took off last season, climbing a ton of top prospects lists. Like Parker, he is going to have an opportunity to compete for a spot in the rotation, and will be helped by the home ball park as well.
4. Addison Reed RP (White Sox)
While the White Sox farm system is absolutely abysmal, they will have a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate in Addison Reed. Reed is a hard throwing right hander who could potentially take over closing duties for the Sox this season, and if that is the case, he definitely could make a run at the Rookie of the Year award. While the Sox don’t look to be good in 2012, piling up saves can help.
5. Mike Trout OF (Angels)
I think most people would agree that Trout has loads of potential, so he is going to be on this list. However, getting on the field might be a tough task. The Angels have spent a ton of money, and they have quite a few veteran options. However, talents like this seem to work themselves on the field. Trout accumulated 0.9 bWAR last season. Doesn’t sound like much, but that was in just 40 games. Multiply by 4 and you get 3.6. Not bad for a 19 year old.
6. Leonys Martin OF (Rangers)
Martin was signed for a substantial contract last season in 2011. Because of new Cuban imports Yoennis Cespedes and Jorge Soler, Martin is kind of getting forgotten. Martin though has potential to hit for average, and play a quality premium defensive position in CF. That Rangers lineup can help a young guy out as well. There is a lot of protection to be found.
7. Yoennis Cespedes OF (A’s)
Speaking of THE Cuban import of the off-season, Cespedes figures to have an opportunity to be in this mix as well. He clearly has the physcial skills, but is he going to be able to put them together on a baseball field? That remains to be seen. Oakland, as much as it helps Parker and Peacock though, will likely sap some of Cespedes’ numbers. There is also some competition that might hold off his debut. The A’s retained Coco Crisp, and acquired Seth Smith,Colin Cowgill and Josh Reddick as well.
8. Joel Carreno RP (Blue Jays)
Carreno might not be on the radar of a lot of people, but he is on mine. He is one of those marvels that posted tremendous K rates in the minors, but doesn’t seem to have the stuff that matches that success. He did get 15 innings last season, and in that short span, he did show that he translates, posting an ERA of 1.15. The Blue Jays traded for closer Sergio Santos, but it’s conceivable that Carreno could start games, garner a few saves, or be a quality set-up guy ala Aaron Crowfrom 2011.
9. Jesus Montero DH (Mariners)
Montero is definitely a quality candidate. Couple reasons. One, he has quite a bit of prospect hype surrounding him, so if he puts up a decent amount of numbers, the press is going to feel comfortable voting for him. Two, he is likely to be in a position to hit 3rd in the Mariners lineup, and because they traded Michael Pineda for him, he is going to get an opportunity. Obviously, it’s tough to put up numbers in Seattle, and his lineup around him isn’t the best, so it may be an uphill climb.
There are of course other candidates, especially with injury always a concern for any team. Guys like Danny Hultzen of the Mariners could make quick work of the minors. You could even see a Sonny Gray sighting out in Oakland. A few surprises are likely to emerge as well.
I purposely left off Jacob Turner of the Tigers. While I think he could be a candidate, the uncertainty that he will get enough time in the majors is there because of the logjam of arms competing for that 5th spot.
Edit: I overlooked perhaps the best prospect in the game in Matt Moore of Tampa.
Moore is obviously a candidate for Rookie of the year. Thanks Jordan for catching that.
Who do you think could emerge in this year’s rookie class?