MLB Rookies Having a Bigger Impact
In 2015, we saw a number of MLB rookies have a huge impact on getting their teams into the playoffs. Carlos Correa became a force for the Astros, leading all shortstops in home runs with 22, despite playing in just 99 games. Kris Bryant came in with high expectations and met those hitting 26 home runs, driving in 99 runs and had a slash line of .274/.368/485. Noah Syndergaard helped lead the Mets to the World Series going 9-7 with a 3.24 ERA and 1.05 WHIP.
All these players started 2015 in the minors, so making the team out of spring training will not restrict any MLB rookies from playing a major role in the playoff race. Here is a look at a 5 MLB Rookies who could impact this year’s playoff picture.
SS. Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers
Seager, 21, has been one of the top prospects in baseball for the past few years and will be one to watch out of the MLB rookies. After a quick promotion from AA, he was productive in AAA hitting 278/332/45. Those numbers don’t jump off the page, but after a September call-up, he had 986 OPS in 113 plate appearances. At 6’4” he is still growing into his frame and he will hit for some power this year, but the 30+ HR seasons are likely a few years away.
He provides the Dodgers with a huge upgrade over Jimmy Rollins, who gave them little offense and diminishing range on defense at shortstop. Seager should give the Dodgers superior offense at shortstop and they will need it to have a chance to repeat in a tough NL West.
SS. Trea Turner, Washington Nationals
Turner, the former 1st round pick out of NC State, was acquired as part of the Wil Myers trade and has a shot to replace Ian Desmond at shortstop for the Nationals. In his first year of pro ball, dealing with trade rumors and changing teams, he impressed many within the Washington front office. He hit .322/.370/.458 last year in the minors and earned himself a September call-up. He is a great athlete, with good speed and an all around solid player.
He should hit for average with his surprising pop building as he gets older. His speed will be a factor as he should be in the 20-30 stolen base range with regular playing time. In the field he has the ability to become a gold glove defender. He has solid fundamentals, an above average arm and his athletic ability combined with his reads off the bat give him great range. Turner may not posses a lot of the pizzazz of other young up and coming players, but he is an all around solid baseball player that will contribute in many ways for the Nats to try and reach the playoffs.
SP. Julio Urias, Los Angeles Dodgers
Urias, at 19, may be the most intriguing of all the young players vying for a roster spot. At just 5’11, the lefty from Mexico has opened many eyes around the league with his electric stuff at such a young age. His fastball sits in the mid 90’s and his curveball keeps hitters off balance. He will add and subtract off of it throwing a slower old-school curve as well as a tighter, faster version with a more slurvy or slider break. A changeup rounds out his pitch repertoire and he has decent command off all of his pitches.
Despite his age, he has a great feel for pitching, but with his inexperience comes inconsistency. The Dodgers have been slowly bringing Urias along, but the talent is there and he is prime to get called up soon. How soon, could depend more upon the injury situation that exists in the Dodgers rotation. Hyun-jin Ryu, Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson are all injured to start 2016 and of course Zack Greinke is now in Arizona. Urias could play a big and important role if the Dodgers are gonna take the NL West in 2016, especially if there are anymore injuries.
1B. AJ Reed, Houston Astros
Like many rookies in the past, Reed seems destined to start the season in AAA until his Super Two date has passed. The power hitting 1B, drafted out of Kentucky with the 42nd pick in 2014, has just one full season of pro ball, but it was an impressive one. Splitting time between high A Lancaster and AA Corpus Christi , he slugged 34 home runs with 127 RBI and had a slash line of 340/432/612 in 135 games.
He is an above-average defender, with a good arm, but lacks the speed and mobility to play other positions. He has great power numbers, but his numbers show he is more than just a slugger, he is capable of becoming a great all-around hitter. While not a finished product, the Astros let Chris Carter go in the offseason and Jon Singleton has struggled to hit major league pitching. Reed can step in to fill that role. It may be June by the time we see Reed, but he could have a similar impact that Correa had for the Astros.
SP. Steven Matz, New York Mets
The lefty is a familiar name to anyone who watched the Mets postseason run. He pitched well for the Mets going 4-0 in his 6 regular season starts. In the playoffs he was effective in 3 starts, but was limited on his pitch count as he worked back from injury. Injuries are indeed what threaten to hold Matz back. He has had a number of them throughout his short career.
He has electric stuff, with a mid 90s fastball, good curveball and changeup. He pounds the zone and has late life on his fastball making it tough on hitters to barrel up. With 3 power-righties in the rotation, there is no pressure on Matz to be the ace, and you likely will see the Mets and Terry Collins be cautious of his workload as the season progresses. If the Mets are to make another run to the World Series, 25+ starts from Matz will make that path much easier.