One of the most exciting aspects of the beginning of baseball season and spring training is attempting to predict which teams will turn it around and which young player will take the league by storm. This season is no different as several young stars looked poised to break through in the American League. The way we see it, these are the five players with the best chances to win AL Rookie of the Year in 2019.
Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., Toronto Blue Jays
You can excuse any baseball fans who think this name may be a misprint included from an older list. Guerrero is the son of former slugger and MLB Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero.
When it comes to Guerrero’s bat, the saying, “Like father, like son” most definitely applies. Currently regarded as baseball’s top prospect, the third baseman hit 20 home runs, 78 RBI, and 136 hits for a .381 batting average and .437 on-base percentage in the minors last season.
Even at only 19 years old, scouts are already touting his raw power. Last season Baseball America referred to him as one of the best teenage hitters ever. MLB Pipeline ranked him as the number one overall prospect in their Top 100.
Eloy Jimenez, Chicago White Sox
Jimenez is a top three prospect overall but ranks number one among outfielders. He smashed 22 homers with 70 RBI split between Double- and Triple-A last season. He’s without a doubt the most dangerous bat in the White Sox system.
The only question mark here is the White Sox hesitance to call Jimenez up to the majors. He was kept in the minors all of last season due to service time considerations, and GM Rick Hahn expressed a desire to exercise patience when it comes to Jimenez’s development.
Based on the massive numbers Jimenez has posted thus far and his projected numbers in the majors, however, it’s only a matter of time before the Chicago brass calls him up to wreak havoc on AL Central pitching.
Jesus Luzardo, Oakland Athletics
The A’s left-hander had a momentous rise last season, starting at Single-A before being called up to Double- and then Triple-A. Luzardo compiled a 2.88 ERA to go with 129 strikeouts and only 30 walks.
A dearth of quality left-handed pitching combined with a litany of injuries in the Oakland rotation last season may leave Lazardo primed to steal a spot and get a chance to show his stuff on the big stage. If he comes close to producing like he did in the minors, then Luzardo should be in the race to win AL Rookie of the Year.
Yusniel Diaz, Baltimore Orioles
An abysmal 2018 didn’t see many bright spots for the Baltimore Orioles, but the acquisition of Yusniel Diaz was one of the few highlights.
Diaz came to Baltimore in the trade that sent Manny Machado to the Dodgers. One of the most heralded players to emerge from Cuba in 2015, the outfielder flashed a little power when he hit 11 home runs in Double-A last season.
Diaz is the Orioles’ the top prospect in their organization and comes in at number 64 overall in the MLB. With the Orioles debuting a youth movement after clearing the deck of some veteran talent last season, Diaz ascending the ranks to AL Rookie of the Year this season isn’t out of the question.
Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros
With 24 homers and 93 RBI last season at AAA, this young outfielder put up numbers that would make any fan’s mouth water in anticipation. Tucker was one of two top five overall picks for the Astros in 2015, with the other being star third baseman Alex Bregman.
Tucker hit more than 20 homers in the minors in 2017, showing that his 2018 totals were no flash in the pan. If he can crack the Astros starting lineup in spring training he may be able to take that patient, consistent approach at the plate all the way to an AL Rookie of the Year award.