Sport Rookie Radar: NL Central
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We’ve already run through the, the , the and the in our look at some of the up-and-coming talent that figures to step into the Major League spotlight whenever play resumes. Let’s take a run through the NL Central…
is the most interesting name to watch. The 2018 first-rounder skyrocketed through the system to make his MLB debut late last season, and while his .282/.305/.436 output didn’t exactly set the world on fire, it capped an impressive rise for a 22-year-old in his first full pro season. The Cubs hope there’s a potential everyday option at second base here. We could also see 27-year-old and his light-tower power get another audition, though his contact skills (or lack thereof) are a notable red flag.
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The organization lacks high-end, MLB-ready pitching prospects, but it wasn’t that long ago that rightywas considered to be just that. He was limited by a triceps injury last year and pitched just 81 2/3 innings between the minors and a brief MLB call-up, but his strikeout numbers are intriguing. Other rotation options on the 40-man roster include , and , but no one from the bunch is regarded as a blue chipper.
In the ’pen, expect some combination of, and to be called into action as injuries arise. All three are on the 40-man roster.
will be one of the most interesting “rookies” to watch this season. He’s of course new to the MLB circuit but no stranger to playing professionally, having starred for Japan’s Seibu Lions over a nine-year career in Nippon Professional Baseball. A career .301/.376/.454 hitter in Japan, Akiyama hit .296 or better with at least a .385 OBP in each of his final five seasons with the Lions.
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Melvin Gordon miscalculated the situation when he held out last year. Gordon held out on the last year of his rookie contract. When he was holding out, Austin Ekeler emerged as a fine all-around back for the Chargers. The Chargers paid Ekeler and let Gordon walk in free agency. Gordon signed with the Denver Broncos. It was easy to see that Gordon’s holdout didn’t have any tangible benefit. Gordon admitted on Friday that he regretted holding out.Melvin Gordon has regrets about holdoutDuring a conference call with Broncos media, Gordon said he should have played instead of continuing his holdout into the season. Gordon ended up missing four games.
The Reds are suddenly a somewhat veteran club, so there aren’t many rookies who’ll be trusted with an Opening Day role. Well-regarded catchercould be summoned in the event of an injury to or . Shortstop drew some eyes with a big spring showing but has yet to reach Double-A. He probably needs some more minor league time.
If a starter goes down, right-handerhas steadily climbed the ranks, although he struggled in a pitcher-friendly Double-A setting a year ago. Still, with the Reds set to potentially lose both and to free agency next winter, they’ll probably want to get a look at Santillan at some point.
The bullpen has a host of potential options —, , and among them. Gutierrez has worked as a starter but struggled enormously in Triple-A, and his power fastball would seemingly play well in relief. Kuhnel has already made his MLB debut.
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The Brewers, traded for several players who’ll be on the Opening Day roster and don’t have a particularly well-regarded farm. All of that is to say — their rookie contributions might be few and far between. (To be fair, there are some semantics at play here; neither nor is technically a rookie despite lacking a full season in the Majors. Both are highly intriguing young players.)
might be called upon should or fall to injury. Outfielder made his MLB debut last year but is buried behind a host of more experienced options. Former first-round pick has yet to debut but also finds himself on the wrong end of that deep outfield mix. Milwaukee picked up in a small trade with the Indians and kept the versatile infielder on the 40-man roster, but it might take multiple injuries and/or a huge Triple-A showing to get to the Majors.
Rightyleads the pack of bullpen candidates, having debuted with a 3.95 ERA in 13 2/3 frames last year. Right-handers and figure to emerge at some point, too, and waiver claim provides a left-handed option who posted big numbers in Triple-A with the Padres last season. Rotation candidates include righty , who had a nice year in Double-A in ’19. was rocked in seven Triple-A starts after a solid Double-A showing himself.
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Right-handerbarely still qualifies a a rookie and should have a rotation spot for much of the season. Keller, long one of MLB’s premier prospects, was clobbered in his debut effort, but it’ll be interesting to see how he fares without the juiced ball and (presumably) without the prior front office/coaching staff’s emphasis on a two-seam fastball.
The Bucs havewith third base prospect — one of the game’s best defensive minor leaguers. Hayes didn’t have a great year at the plate in Triple-A in 2019, but he’ll open the season there and should break into the big leagues this year. As the club’s potential third baseman of the future, he’s a definite name to watch.
After that pairing, there’s a drop.and might get some time in the outfield, and depending on injuries, middle infielder and first baseman are possibilities.
It feels likehas been a prospect forever, but the 27-year-old was healthy and opened some eyes this spring with a good showing. He’s undergone both Tommy John and thoracic outlet surgery but boasts a triple-digit heater when healthy. and could see time in the ’pen, as could in the rotation.
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St. Louis Cardinals
Among NL Central prospects who could plausibly debut in 2020, outfielderis perhaps the most highly regarded. A consensus top 20 minor leaguer who belted 26 home runs, stole 20 bases and posted a combined OPS north of .900 between Double-A and Triple-A last year, Carlson is viewed as a potential cornerstone piece. He’ll have to stave off , and fellow rookie , but Carlson has the highest ceiling of the bunch.
, so there’s little hope of seeing meaningful time unless there’s an unfortunate injury to Molina. But Knizner is touted as a potential starting catcher himself and is more or less MLB-ready. Likewise, infielder is ready for an MLB look but lacks an obvious path given the team’s veteran infield mix.
Left-handersand give the Cards a southpaw option both in the rotation and in the bullpen. Kim, long one of the better pitchers in the Korea Baseball Organization, had an eye-opening spring showing. Right-hander tops the list of intriguing bullpen candidates thanks to a sub-2.00 ERA in the minors last year and a heater that averaged nearly 97 mph on a brief MLB cup of coffee.
Related slideshow: Tatis Jr. = A-Rod? Historical comparisons for MLB's young stars (Provided by Yardbarker)
Juan Soto | Ken Griffey Jr.
Austin Meadows | Larry Walker
Pete Alonso | Mark McGwire
Bo Bichette | Derek Jeter
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. | Adrian Beltre
Adley Rutschman | Joe Mauer
Ronald Acuna Jr. | Mike Trout
Luis Robert | Andruw Jones
Yordan Alvarez | Jim Thome
Jesus Luzardo | Mark Mulder
Mike Soroka | Tim Hudson
Keston Hiura | Jeff Kent
Fernando Tatis Jr. | Alex Rodriguez
Jack Flaherty | Kevin Brown
Gavin Lux | Chase Utley
Chris Paddack | Josh Beckett
Joey Bart | Buster Posey
Gleyber Torres | Cal Ripken Jr.
Sean Murphy | Yadier Molina
Ozzie Albies | Roberto Alomar
Mercato Liverpool: A Frenchman to strengthen the defense of the Reds? .
© Provided by Sports.fr klopp_panoramic_ Dejan Lovren at the start, Liverpool is looking for a central defender. After six years on the banks of the Mersey, Dejan Lovren is about to leave Liverpool. The Croatian international will indeed be out of contract next June and an extension is not on the agenda. The leaders of the European champions are already working […] Dejan Lovren at the start, Liverpool are looking for a central defender.
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