Handicapping the Best 2013 MLB Rookies
by Trevor Whenham - 4/10/2013
Last year baseball fans and bettors were incredibly spoiled when it came to rookies. Bryce Harper had an epic rookie season that would have been noteworthy most years, but he was totally overshadowed by the great season that Mike Trout had — not just great for a rookie, either. We aren’t going to see a rookie season like either of those two had last year, but there are still several rookies who can have a big impact for bettors, so they are well worth getting to know.
Here are seven to keep an eye on:
Jackie Bradley, Jr., OF, Boston Red Sox
Bradley is an undersized player who hasn’t gotten a lot of hype as a prospect, but he was good enough to earn a starting role for an established team — albeit one with all sorts of issues with their lineup. He is not performing particularly well at the plate early in the season, but he is strong defensively, and he has shown nice discipline — he walked three times in his debut — so he should continue to get his chances. One thing he has going for him is that any success he has will be noticed because of the public attention the Red Sox get even when they are struggling.
Jedd Gyorko, 3B, San Diego Padres
Being the most productive player on the Padres isn’t saying much — this isn’t exactly an overwhelming lineup. At this point, though, Gyorko is leading the team in batting average, runs and OPS. Given the microscopic expectations for the team, he’s going to get a chance to play through any issues he encounters. And he can play second as well as third, so he’s versatile. The Padres aren’t going to win many games, but Gyorko has the potential to help with an upset or two along the way.
Aaron Hicks, OF, Minnesota Twins
Hicks has not settled into his new job as centerfielder for the Twins very well — he has just two hits in 30 at-bats so far. Like Gyorko, though, he has the luxury of playing on a team that no one expects much from, so he should get his opportunity to turn things around. If he can settle down and find his way, he could be useful for bettors. He’s excellent defensively, and his speed and power at the plate are both well above average.
Brandon Maurer, RHP, Seattle Mariners
Maurer opened some eyes just by earning a spot in the rotation. He seemed to be behind both Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen on the depth chart heading into the season, but he beat them both out in the spring. He has a couple of issues. First, he hasn’t stayed healthy throughout his career. More significantly in the short term, he was lousy in his debut this year, allowing six earned runs in six innings against the A’s. He needs to be much better, but the fact that the Mariners tabbed him for the rotation is a clear sign that they expect he can be.
Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals are a pretty good team with a pretty good rotation, so it is impressive that Miller was deemed to be good enough to be a part of it. His first start was solid — two runs in 5.1 innings. Miller got a taste of action last year — six appearances and a start — and was very good in those opportunities. He’s only 22 but he doesn’t pitch like it, and with this lineup behind him to help him overcome some mistakes Miller has a chance to be a very solid under-the-radar betting option.
Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves
Teheran is an interesting case. He’s only 22, but he has already seen his fortunes rise and fall during his career. Heading into last season he was seen as one of the top prospects in all of baseball. Last year he couldn’t get anyone out no matter what level he was at, though. His control was gone, and people wrote him off. He’s looking to get back on the fast track, and he did enough in the spring to earn a rotation spot for a real contender. His first start was ugly — five earned runs in five innings — but he’s going to get enough time to prove himself in the rotation — or not — because the team is short of better options in the short term. If he can recapture even some of his 20 year old form, he has the chance to put together a very solid year.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Ryu isn’t your typical rookie. The Dodgers paid $60 million in bonuses and posting fees to bring him over from Korea, so they are gambling that he is going to be able to be a real contributor right at the outset. So far, so good — he’s 1-1, but his 2.13 ERA and 1.18 WHIP are more than solid. He also has 11 strikeouts and just two walks, so his command is good. He has the advantage of not facing a lot of pressure in L.A. because Kershaw and Greinke will get the attention. That will make it easier for him to settle in.
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