Mike Trout & 5 Other MLB Rookies Who Are Franchise Cornerstones

Christopher BenvieCorrespondent IIJuly 5, 2012

Mike Trout & 5 Other MLB Rookies Who Are Franchise Cornerstones

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    Every so often, Major League Baseball is blessed with a wave of fresh faces joining its ranks full of youthful vigor and determination. This season, fans have been blessed to witness some fantastic talent sprouting up throughout the big leagues.

    Many have met and even exceeded grandiose expectations.

    Here is a look at Mike Trout and five other rookies who are quickly establishing themselves as franchise cornerstones in the MLB

Mike Trout, CF, Los Angeles Angels

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    When the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim signed Albert Pujols in the offseason, it was widely believed that Prince Albert would rule all of the headlines.

    For awhile that was the case, only not in the manner Angel fans would have preferred. Pujols started off very slow and was drawing plenty of unwanted negative attention.

    Then along came Mike Trout.

    The 21-year-old has played in 60 games for the Halos so far this season and has not only been the team's MVP, but arguably the MVP of the entire American League

    He leads the Angels in batting average (.348), on-base percentage (.403), stolen bases (26), while chipping in 10 home runs, 38 runs batted in and an absurd 54 runs scored. 

    Trout ranks third on the Angels in hits behind only Pujols and Mark Trumbo, who have played in 21 and 13 more games this year, respectively.  

    It's safe to say that the American League Rookie of the Year Award is his to lose. 

Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Boston Red Sox

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    The Boston Red Sox have not had too many things to be extremely happy about so far in 2012. That is, unless you consider the play of rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

    Middlebrooks came up when Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis went to the DL, and a position battle was born. Middlebrooks came out with guns blazing, and Youk was dealt to the White Sox. 

    Having only played in 48 games for the Red Sox thus far, Middlebrooks is second on the team in batting average (.298) behind only David Ortiz and is third in OPS behind only Ortiz and Cody Ross. His 37 RBI on the season is sixth best on the Red Sox, but he has played in far fewer games than the teammates that he trails.

    Middlebrooks might not be a serious for the AL Rookie of the Year with Trout playing the way he has, but he is sure to have a strong major league career.

Yu Darvish, P, Texas Rangers

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    Japanese sensation Yu Darvish has proven to be the real deal for the Texas Rangers.

    Being on a team that is loaded with talent makes it difficult to stand out, but Darvish has done just that. He currently has 10 wins, second on the club to teammate Matt Harrison, but leads all rookie pitchers in that category. 

    His ERA is extremely competitive, at 3.59, and he leads the team in strikeouts by no small margin with 117 heading into the All-Star break. 

    Darvish's victories have come against all levels of competition, including teams with high-octane offenses like the Tigers, Yankees and Angels. 

    While he is not quite in the conversation for the AL Cy Young just yet, he could be there by season's end. 

Bryce Harper, RF, Washington Nationals

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    He's young, talented, and fun to watch. He's Bryce Harper, bro. 

    The 19-year-old phenom made his major league debut with as much hype surrounding him as Ken Griffey Jr. upon his arrival to the bigs. 

    And he has delivered, much in the same manner that Junior did. Harper leads the Washington Nationals in batting average with his .280, while he is second in runs (41) and third in home runs (eight). 

    While other rookies have come along and performed better than Harper this season, the Nats phenom has performed exceedingly well considering the immense pressure placed onto his shoulders ever since the day he was drafted. 

    As a rookie, Griffey played in 127 games for the Mariners, put up a .264/.329/.420/.748 batting line with 16 home runs, 61 RBI and 61 runs. 

    Through his first 59 games, Harper has a .280/.354/.478/.832 batting line with eight home runs, 23 RBI and 41 runs. 

    Comparable? I think so. 

Wade Miley, P, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    The Arizona Diamondbacks rookie southpaw, Wade Miley, is starting his major league career off with a bang. 

    The pitcher has racked up an impressive 9-4 record so far in 2012, which gives him more wins than a few household names: Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw, Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee to name a few.

    Clearly I am being a little facetious, but you get my point. 

    Miley has the team's best ERA (2.87) among starters, and has managed to strike out 66 batters in 94 innings of work this season. Pretty good for a guy not considered to be a power pitcher. 

Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs

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    I fully understand that Anthony Rizzo has only played in eight major league games for the Cubs in 2012. 

    However, by the end of baseball's third quarter, so to speak, Rizzo will have made a significant impact on this Cubs team.

    Already, he is batting .314 with three home runs, six RBI and a .990 OPS.

    Looking at his numbers this early is a bit unfair, but looking at Rizzo as a player, is it so hard to picture him as the face of the Cubs franchise in the coming years?

    I think not.