2014 Midseason Rookie Report- Position Players
In the year 2012, we saw two young phenoms take center stage in the big leagues: Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. These two took very different paths on their way to the top. Harper was the biggest name in sports at one point. He was having book after book written about him. Endorsements were coming in left and right. He was even on the cover of Sports Illustrated at age 18. Trout didn’t bring in near the attention Harper did when he reached the majors. Yes, Mike was ranked the number one prospect in 2012, but all the focus was on the teenager from Nevada.
Looking at what has transpired over the last two and a half seasons, if you had to choose between Bryce and Mike, the clear-cut choice would be Trout (Harper is not a bad consolation prize.)
This just goes to show the beauty of baseball. Some players go unnoticed through the minors, but when they reach the bigs, they put up extraordinary numbers. The same can be said about those who are tracked day in and day out in their team’s farm system, but crash once they get the call.
Though it will be hard to match the rookie talent level of 2012, there are some rookies making a big splash in 2014. Take a look at how some of this year’s rookies are playing and whether or not they are ready for full-time employment in the show. Keep in mind this isn’t the entire rookie class, just a few notable players.
2014: .282 AVG/95 H/5 HR/6 3B/38 SB
Possibly the most exciting prospect since Trout, Hamilton has not disappointed scouts with his speed. So far in 2014, Billy has recorded 38 steals, which ranks third in the league. His 6 triples puts him at sixth in the league. The Cincinnati Reds are only 2 games back in the NL Central, and with the absence of Joey Votto, it seems Hamilton has a lot to do with it. Look for the Reds to contend in September and Billy to raise the NL Rookie of the Year trophy.
2014: .230 AVG/19 HR/50 RBI/44 R/114 SO
George Springer has brought a lot of hope to the Houston Astros organization. After several years of scouting and drafting in the top 5, it appears the Astros finally have a finished product to be proud of. When Springer entered in mid-April, no knew what to expect. Now, we see a player with great power and an ability to drive in runs. Though his batting average and strikeouts can be improved, he still remains my second favorite rookie to win the American League ROY (behind Jose Abreu.)
2014: .265 AVG/.353 OBP/35 H/3 HR/14 RBI
Polanco was brought up June 10, so his season cannot be fully analysed. However, Polanco hasn’t failed in impressing the Pittsburgh Pirates faithful. In only 33 games, Polanco has hit safely 35 times, which if you multiply by five to make a full season (roughly), you’d see he’d have 175 hits. I know that’s not how it works, but is interesting to see what he could do in full year. Expect great things from this right fielder for years to come.
2014: .197 AVG/15 H/1 HR/5 RBI/3 2B
Expectations were high for Taveras when he was called up May 31st. Those expectations became greater when he hit his lone home run that same day. Since then, things haven’t been great for the #2 prospect in baseball. In 23 games, Taveras has recorded a -0.5 WAR while only driving in 15 RBIs. It’s been a tough year for all St. Louis Cardinals outfielders, so Taveras doesn’t stand alone. There have been rumors of either Allen Craig of Matt Adams possibly getting traded, which would free up the RF position for Oscar. Down the road, expect great things from Taveras, but right now, let him develop.
2014: .227 AVG/6 HR/21 RBI/19 R/.299 OBP
d’Arnaud was acquired by the New York Mets in the deal that sent knuckleballer RA Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays. When he arrived in Flushing, he was hailed as the next Mike Piazza. Okay, maybe he wasn’t that highly praised, but Travis was someone the Mets fans could get excited about. This year, he hasn’t produced a whole lot. 6 HR and 21 RBIs isn’t terrible, but they’re not Piazza numbers. The catching position is not really about offense though, it’s about how you field and how well you manage games. With a young staff, d’Arnaud hasn’t done a terrible job. I’d like to see him develop a little more in the minors, but he is all the Mets have right now, so expect to see him finish out the year in the majors.
2014: .291 AVG/.369 OBP/46 H/8 2B/.990 FPCT
For four and a half years, Dan Uggla was written on the score card as the starting second baseman. During the All-Star break, Uggla was released, opening doors for this great prospect. Tommy La Stella entered the year as a role player, seeing pinch hit opportunities from time to time. When Uggla started to struggle, La Stella saw an increasing amount of starting time. Now, with Dan out, expect La Stella to take full advantage of it. Tommy is a great contact hitter and can field the ball nicely. Don’t be surprised to hear La Stella’s name mentioned in NL ROY talks when the time comes.
2014: .187 AVG/6 HR/21 RBI/.278 OBP/.360 SLG
Singleton signed a 5 year deal this year for $10 million with the Houston Astros. Even though he was suspended 50 games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, the Astros showed great confidence in locking him up for the next half decade. And why not? Singleton’s power is tremendous, and playing in Minute Maid Park, it can surely shine. However, the shining moments haven’t really happened this year. A .187 AVG is not something Houston needs right now. I think the call to the bigs was a little premature. Send him down so he can develop some more, then call him back up in May 2015. By then, he should have the kinks worked out and we should be witnessing power at its finest.
Verdict: Send back down
Others who are definitely here to stay:
Others that need more minor league time:
Jackie Bradley Jr.