MLB Offseason: Jeremy Hellickson and 10 Rookies Set to Star in 2011
The 2011 Major League Baseball season seems a long ways away, but it is never too early to take a glance at potential impact rookies for next season.
Jeremy Hellickson, 23, a pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays, leads a group of 10 players who are ready to make an impact on their respective teams in 2011.
1. Jeremy Hellickson: RHP Tampa Bay Rays
Jeremy Hellickson, 23, of the Tampa Bay Rays will be a name heard early and often when talk about AL Rookie of the Year is being discussed.
Hellickson burst onto the scene in August of 2010, going 3-0 as a starter with wins over the Detroit Tigers, Oakland A's, and the playoff bound Minnesota Twins.
He was moved to the bullpen in September, where he was less effective, but all signs point to Hellickson being in the starting rotation out of spring training next season.
Given the opportunity to start on a regular basis, 15 wins is not out of the question as far as potential for Hellickson.
2. Mike Moustakas: 3B Kansas City Royals
Mike Moustakas, 22, is the future at 3B for the Kansas City Royals.
After finishing the season at Triple-A, Moustakas could take over at third coming out of spring training, and should if they are going purely on talent.
The kid just raked it this year in the minors, and got better as the year went on.
Over his two stops in the minors this year, he hit a combined .322 with 36 home runs and an OPS of .999.
He was not a September call up for the Royals, which will make his (hopefully) early season debut for the Royals that much more special.
3. Kyle Gibson: RHP Minnesota Twins
Kyle Gibson, 23, is a right handed starting pitcher for the Minnesota Twins. He was drafted in the first round of the 2009 MLB entry draft and has flown through the minors.
Gibson began the season at single-A, and finished at the triple-A squad in Rochester.
Gibson is an imposing presence on the mound, standing at 6'6" and 210 pounds.
Scouts have likened Gibson to a healthy Brandon Webb. He gets outs via ground balls with a powerful 93 MPH sinker that minor leaguers couldn't do anything with.
For the year Gibson went 11-6 with a 2.96 ERA over 152.0 innings.
Should the Twins lose Carl Pavano this off-season in free agency, look for Gibson to possibly step up and become the Twins 4th or 5th starter.
4. Eric Hosmer: 1B Kansas City Royals
Eric Hosmer, 21, is a 1B prospect from the Kansas City Royals.
Hosmer is the second Royal on this list, but just as impressive as Mike Moustakas.
Over the last season, Hosmer has destroyed the ball while earning a minor league All-Star spot.
Hosmer hit a combined .338 with 20 home runs and a .977 OPS.
Hosmer and Moustakas could become the best corner infielders in baseball over the next few seasons, and the party should begin early next season in Kansas City.
5. Jesus Montero: C New York Yankees
Jesus Montero, who just turned 21 three days ago, could become a big part of the New York Yankees next season.
Montero is a highly regarded catching prospect who spent the entire season at the triple-A level for the Yanks.
He has been blocked by a potential Hall-of-Famer in Jorge Posada, but the wait may be over for Yankee fans.
Montero's bat has been loud this season, hitting .289 with 21 Home Runs and a .870 OPS.
Montero is likely to make his debut early in 2011 and could spend time at catcher, DH, and possibly 1B.
6. Dustin Ackley: 2B Seattle Mariners
Dustin Ackley, who will be 23 when spring training rolls around, is a 2B prospect for the Seattle Mariners.
Ackley may be best known for being the guy drafted after someone named Stephen Strasburg. However, many believe that in most years, Ackley would have been a number one overall type talent.
His season in the minors was a little disappointing for his kind of talent. Ackley hit a combined .267, with seven home runs and a .775 OPS.
Some of his limited production may be due to Ackley being move to one of the more demanding defensive positions in baseball, 2B, which coaches have said he has responded well to.
Look for Ackley to make his debut with the Mariners right out of spring training, as the Mariners may be able to move Chone Figgens back to 3B where he is obviously more comfortable.
Ackley has been playing currently in the off-season Arizona Fall League and has been dominant. He is currently hitting .424 with four home runs, 19 RBI's, five stolen bases, and a 1.338 OPS. Wow is the word that comes to my mind.
7. Domonic Brown: OF Philadelphia Phillies
Domonic Brown, 23, is a big time outfield prospect for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Brown had been stuck in the minors behind the great outfield the Phillies have been able to field the last couple seasons, but with Jason Werth most definitely departing this off-season, Brown will likely find himself playing everyday.
Brown made his debut as a September call up last season, and didn't play great, but it was a good learning experience for the youngster. He even got some playoff at bats in October.
Brown played great in the minors before being called up. Brown hit .327 with 20 Home Runs, 17 stolen bases, and a .980 OPS. He also brings great range to the outfield with his speed.
Brown will likely win the starting spot out of spring training, and should contend for NL Rookie of the Year.
8: Brett Jackson: OF Chicago Cubs
Brett Jackson, 22, is an left handed outfield prospect for the Chicago Cubs.
Jackson has been blocked by the overpaid, and under performing Alfonso Soriano. But the growing sentiment seems to be towards giving Jackson the opportunity to win a spot in the outfield next season.
Jackson has had a great season in the minors. He hit a combined .297, with 12 home runs, and 30 stolen bases. He brings great speed on the base paths and range in the outfield. He may need to cut down on the strikeouts before the coaching staff is ready to hand him the starting gig, as he had 126 this season.
Look for Jackson to debut early in 2011, and if he plays well enough, may end up playing regularly by June.
9. Desmond Jennings: OF Tampa Bay Rays
Desmond Jennings, 24, will be starting for the Tampa Bay Rays next season, following the almost inevitable departure of Carl Crawford.
Jennings is kind of a Crawford lite. Less filling, but same great taste.
He isn't quite the hitter that Crawford is, or has been, but he brings great speed and defense to Tampa.
Jennings hit .278 and stole 37 bases this season in the minors before he was called up to the Big Leagues in September.
Jennings struggled a bit after making it to the show, but he should be given every opportunity next season to play every day, and Tampa is hoping he can become their new lead off man.
10. Chris Carter: LF Oakland Athletics
Chris Carter, who will be 24 when spring training starts, is an OF prospect for the Oakland A's.
Carter has been tearing through the minor leagues and could add much needed offense for a team loaded with young pitching.
Carter hit .258 with 31 Home Runs, 94 RBI's, and a .894 OPS this season in the minors. He was called up in September to the A's, and was historically bad, going over 30 at bats before his first hit in the majors. But don't expect that to last.
Carter should be a perennial 30 Home Run hitter for the A's, and will likely be the starting LF straight out of spring training.