With the one-quarter mark of the 2013 season in the rear-view mirror and June just on the horizon, we have a pretty good idea of which youngsters are Rookie of the Year contenders.
The picture is a bit more exciting on the National League side, as the NL is overrun with exciting young players like Shelby Miller, Didi Gregorius and Jose Fernandez. It's looking like the Rookie of the Year race in the Senior Circuit is going to be a Royal Rumble affair all season long.
The story in the American League is different. No Mike Trout-ish superstar has emerged yet, and to call the guys who are in the race "stars" is pushing the limit of the word. They're more like...well, guys.
But it's time to check in with the top rookies in both leagues all the same. Here's a look at how their stocks are trending.
1. Nick Tepesch, RHP, Texas Rangers
There's no dominant hitter in the American League Rookie of the Year race, nor is there a dominant pitcher.
But Nick Tepesch certainly comes the closest to fitting the latter description, as he's in the middle of a decent season that's been trending more towards "good" recently.
The 24-year-old right-hander started May off on a sour note by allowing 10 earned runs in his first two starts but has since allowed just three earned runs over 11 innings in his last two outings. He gets bonus points for only allowing a mere double to the seemingly immortal Miguel Cabrera against the Detroit Tigers last Friday.
Tepesch had to be scratched from a Wednesday start due to a blister, but the word from The Dallas Morning News is that he's fine now and will be able to start again on Sunday in Seattle, where he'll look to build on his solid rookie campaign.
2. Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Minnesota Twins
Oswaldo Arcia has talent. It just hasn't been on display all that much recently.
Arcia hasn't cracked the Twins' starting lineup since Sunday, when he went 0-for-3 in a loss to the Boston Red Sox. It was his fourth straight 0-fer, for which his punishment has been a few days on the pine.
Arcia has only gotten three at-bats this week, so he hasn't had much of a chance to add to his solid numbers. He did what he could on Wednesday against the Atlanta Braves, though, launching a solo homer in a pinch-hit appearance.
Last week saw Arcia atop Mike Rosenbaum's ranks for American League rookies, but his lack of action over the last few days makes it too hard to keep him there.
3. Conor Gillaspie, 3B, Chicago White Sox
Last year, Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com wrote the following about Conor Gillaspie while he was a prospect in the San Francisco Giants organization:
"Whether he has the stuff to be an everyday player remains to be seen, but at the very least, he looks like a solid Major League contributor in the very near future."
Given what we've seen from Gillaspie this year, I'd say Mr. Mayo hit the nail on the head.
Gillaspie has indeed been a solid contributor, as he's done a decent job at third base for the White Sox both offensively and defensively. His OPS was over .800 as recently as last week, and he owns a 3.2 UZR and three Defensive Runs Saved (see FanGraphs).
Gillaspie hasn't done much to build on his ROY resume over the last week, collecting only one hit in 11 at-bats in a span of three games, but he's still a candidate for the award.
4. Justin Grimm, RHP, Texas Rangers
|7 (7)||3-3||4.02||1.44|| 40.1 ||.270||36/14|
I really shouldn't say that things were looking grim for Justin Grimm for a while there. That's just too easy.
...But shoot, how can I not?
Things certainly were looking a little grim for Grimm. He had allowed 10 earned runs in two road starts at Milwaukee and Oakland, inflating his ERA from 2.28 to 4.48. He was in need of a face-saving start.
Grimm got one his last time out against the Tigers, allowing only two earnies in six-and-a-third. And if Tepesch deserves points for holding Cabrera to a double, Grimm certainly deserves more points for holding Miggy to a single.
Grimm still isn't quite on his teammate's level just yet, but at least he's back on the right track.
5. Cody Allen, RHP, Cleveland Indians
|19 (0)||1-0||2.05||1.00|| 22 ||.188||30/7|
Cody Allen's 2013 season did not get off to the best start. He allowed three earned runs in his first two outings on six hits and three walks in only three innings.
Since then, however, Allen's been a money pitcher.
Over his last 17 appearances, Allen has allowed two earnies in 19 innings for a 0.95 ERA. He's struck out 27 of the 70 batters he's faced and has held them to a .423 OPS.
From what I understand about the job description, numbers like these are generally what you want out a reliever. Terry Francona and the Indians have themselves a good one in their 24-year-old righty.
On the Bubble: Carter Capps (Mariners), Aaron Hicks (Twins), Dan Straily (A's)
1. Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
|9 (9)||5-3||1.74||0.93|| 57 ||.188||62/15|
It's saying something about how good the pitching in the National League has been so far this year that Shelby Miller's 1.74 ERA is only good enough for fourth among starters.
Oh, and I suppose that ERA also says something about how good Miller has been, period.
Granted, he's been a little more human recently. After coming through with one of the most dominant performances of the season against the Colorado Rockies a few weeks back, Miller has failed to last six innings in each of his last two starts. The most recent one of those saw him surrender three earned runs in five-and-two-thirds in San Diego, like he was some kind of mortal or something.
Miller better be ready to put that behind him, because his next start is on Sunday at Dodger Stadium against a guy named Clayton Kershaw.
You're going to want to be near a TV for that one.
2. Didi Gregorius, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks
And there I was thinking the Diamondbacks had made a trade for a shortstop prospect who couldn't hit.
As were many, to be sure, and we now have no choice but to tip our caps to Didi Gregorius. Dude can hit after all.
Gregorius was slowing down a little bit, but he picked himself up with back-to-back three-hit efforts on Sunday and Monday and is now sitting on a .960 OPS. Among National League rookies with at least 20 games under their belts, that's the best.
Gregorius is also getting it done in the field. Per FanGraphs, he has a slightly better than average 0.5 UZR and three Defensive Runs Saved, making him a solid all-around shortstop the D-Backs should be very pleased with.
3. Jose Fernandez, RHP, Miami Marlins
|9 (9)||2-2||3.31||1.16|| 49 ||.215||46/18|
With Giancarlo Stanton on the shelf, Jose Fernandez is really the only reason to watch a Marlins game these days.
He makes for a pretty good reason, though, as Fernandez's starts are can't-miss affairs based on his stuff alone. It's electric and he's been putting it to good use lately.
After a solid April, Fernandez is having a better May. The 20-year-old righty has made four starts this month, posting a 2.16 ERA and racking up 23 strikeouts in 25 innings.
If there's something to keep an eye on, it's that Fernandez's strikeouts have been trending the wrong way. He struck out nine in his first start this month, then seven, then five and then only two in his most recent outing against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Either this is him trying to be more efficient, or it's the league adjusting to the scouting reports on him.
Time will tell. For now, Fernandez is doing just fine.
4. Hyun-Jin Ryu, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
|10 (10)||5-2||3.30||1.26|| 62.2 ||.245||60/22|
Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke are the super-big money guys in the Dodgers' starting rotation, but what Hyun-Jin Ryu is doing this season should not be overlooked.
The South Korean lefty has settled in nicely after an up-and-down introduction to Major League Baseball. Ryu has a 2.84 ERA over his last six starts, spanning 38 innings. He's allowed only five earned runs over 19 innings in his last three starts, the most recent of which saw him pitch into the eighth inning in Milwaukee.
Ryu doesn't have the most eye-popping numbers in sexy departments like ERA and WHIP, but he's tied for the National League lead in starts among rookies, and no rookie in baseball has logged as many innings as he has.
The Dodgers aren't getting a whole lot of bang for their buck, but their investment in Ryu is panning out about as well as they could have expected.
5. Evan Gattis, C/OF, Atlanta Braves
A message for a Mr. Jedd Gyorko: I see you out there, and I want you to know that you're this close to cracking the top of the list.
But Evan Gattis has to get out of the way first, and he doesn't seem to be too keen on doing that.
Gattis has become a man without a position now that the Braves have gotten Brian McCann and Jason Heyward back, but he's finding ways to contribute when he can. Recently, Gattis has slugged three homers in his last six at-bats. The most recent of those came with the sacks full for his first career grand slam.
It looked for a while there like Gattis' great story had run out of juice, but apparently not quite yet.
On the bubble: Jedd Gyorko (Padres), Jim Henderson (Brewers) Trevor Rosenthal (Cardinals)
Note: Stats are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted and are current as of the start of play on Friday, May 24.
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