Michael Pineda receives advice from Felix Hernandez. Not a bad mentor to have as an impact rookie.
For one of the few times in recent memory, MLB teams throughout the league are taking early notice of the impact rookies that are helping their clubs immediately in their first year.
Whether it is an up-and-coming front-line starting pitcher or a middle of the order power bat, there are numerous rookies that are taking these early months of the season to show why they belong in the Major Leagues.
Looking at the position players, three names that instantly jump out are catcher J.P. Arencibia of the Toronto Blue Jays, second baseman Darwin Barney of the Chicago Cubs and first baseman and prized prospect of the Kansas City Royals organization, Eric Hosmer.
With Arencibia, the Blue Jays are slowly integrating him into the everyday lineup, playing him about four times every week and then relegating the rest of the playing time to backup catcher Jose Molina. Through the first quarter of the season, Arencibia has already hit seven home runs and racked up 18 RBI. This is very respectable for a platoon player in his rookie year.
As he masters the signal calling aspect of the position, Arencibia will be a force for the Blue Jays in the coming years.
Looking at Darwin Barney, he is one who was under the radar in Spring Training and is proving himself on the field on a daily basis for the Cubs. Leading all rookies with a batting average of .322, Barney is displaying all the prototypical tools of a MLB middle infielder. Although he won’t hit for power too often, he will consistently get on base and drive in the key runs.
Manager Mike Quade for the Cubs will surely take that from his second baseman of the future.
In regards to Eric Hosmer, he is the big name prospect of the Royals organization, and General Managers throughout the league knew it was only going to be a matter of time before Hosmer hit the big league level.
Through his first few career games in May, Hosmer has periodically shown why he was so highly touted in the minor leagues. The ball jumps off his bat when he makes solid contact and he can hit to all fields. The first base position is a power spot, and Hosmer will surely have that as he matures in the Majors.
Even though those rookies have been solid, the real rookie impact has come in the form of starting pitching. Zach Britton of the Baltimore Orioles, Michael Pineda of the Seattle Mariners and Kyle Drabek of the Toronto Blue Jays have all shown the potential of being future top of the rotation starters; and they all in fact might not be too far off in that regard.
Britton has anchored the rotation for Baltimore in the early stages of the season, and has hovered around a 2.00 ERA in these first two months. Just 23, Britton has plenty of time to fine tune his pitches and become an All-Star caliber left handed pitcher in the future.
Pineda, 22, started the season as the Mariners No. 5 starter in the rotation, but he has shown to be just as effective as the other starters, like Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas. Sporting a plus fastball and slider, Pineda has baffled numerous teams in the early part of his rookie season and once he develops his change-up, he will be downright unhittable.
Drabek has gone a bit under the radar playing north of the border for Toronto, and although he has had his ups and downs, he is showing why Toronto made him the centerpiece of the Roy Halladay trade to the Phillies.
As the season progresses, these impact rookies will continue to fine tune their playing skills. All six of these players have made an immediate impact for their respective clubs, and this just goes to show why they will become dominant players in future years.
Having the ability to perform exceptionally well in the first two months of their major league careers can only bode well for them down the road. And for opposing teams having to face these rookies, watch out, looks can be deceiving.