On one hand, you have a 28-year-old right fielder from Puerto Rico. On the other hand, you have a 25-year-old, right fielder from America.
They are Alex Rios of the Toronto Blue Jays and Nick Markakis of the Baltimore Orioles.
As of now, Markakis has certainly had the better career, but certain players definitely develop faster then others.
Both players are five-tool talents, they both have rocket arms in the outfield, speed on the base paths, power in their swings, man their corner outfield spot well, and both know how to put the ball in play.
Rios struggled early last year, hitting for almost no power, but his resurgent second half had him finish with 15 home runs and gave many Jays fans high hopes for 2009. Rios has displayed a good power stroke in the past and he is just hitting the age where most hitters enter their prime.
Rios' big advantage comes on the base paths. Cito Gaston allowed Rios free reign when it came to stealing bases last season, and it definitely paid off. Rios stole 32 bases, while only getting caught eight times. Markakis got caught seven times, but only stole 10 bases.
They both put up similar RBI numbers, but Rios would have put up more had he been put in the right position in the batting order and if not for Vernon Wells' injury.
Another thing in Rios' favor is the likelihood that he will be moved to center field, a much more important position then either corner outfield spot.
Overall, look for Rios to become an absolute monster this season, making him more valuable than Markakis for at least the next couple of years, until Rios hits his mid-30's.
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