Future Watch: Baseball Rookie Cards: American League Rookie of the Year Candidates

Future Watch: Baseball Rookie Cards: American League Rookie of the Year Candidates – Here are my top five candidates to take home AL Rookie of the Year honors in 2021. 

Jarred Kelenic was drafted sixth overall by the New York Mets in the 2018 MLB Amateur Draft. He has speed, he can throw the ball from center field at 96 miles per hour, and he has power. In the winter of 2018, however, the Mets traded Kelenic, considered their top prospect to Seattle in the Robinson Cano deal. In 2019, he got as high as the Arkansas Travelers in AA slugging six home runs in 21 games. After seeing some time with Seattle’s top players at their alternate site in 2020, 2021 will be his year to start and shine (albeit a little late due to a knee strain). MLB.com has him ranked as the 9th best prospect in the game.
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Ryan Mountcastle was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the first round of the 2015 draft. At 6-4, armed with one of the best young swings in the game, he is “that guy” who everybody is talking about based on his spring training output. He was going to make the Orioles team, but nobody is sure what position he will end up that. He’s played in left field, first base, and DH, and Mountcastle has slugged three homers with 10 RBI. This talented prospect had 126 at-bats last season but retains his rookie status. The last Rookie of the Year the Orioles had was closer Gregg Olson back in 1989. Mountcastle has the plate discipline and sheer power to give him a chance to win the award. He’s ranked 90th by MLB.com.
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Nick Madrigal was drafted by the Chicago White Sox with the fourth overall pick in 2018. This second baseman hit .361 with 40 doubles, 11 triples, and 39 steals in his three seasons of NCAA baseball. Madrigal is a terrific contact hitter, with speed and gap power. He showed that in 2019, while with the Charlotte Knights in AAA. That was his third team that season, and his combined numbers were four home runs, 55 RBI with a .311 batting average. Madrigal got 103 at-bats with the White Sox in 2020 and is set for a lot more in 2021. Madrigal is hitting .294 late in spring training. MLB.com has him ranked as the 36th best prospect in the game.
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Dane Dunning is a 25-year-old pitcher who is with the Texas Rangers. The Nationals drafted him 29th overall in 2016. During the winter of 2016, Dunning was traded from the Nationals to the Chicago White Sox. Dunning starred at the University of Florida. As a Gator, he was 12-6 with 174 strikeouts in 163 innings through the 2016 season. In 2018, Dunning pitched as high as AA with the Birmingham Barons. Last season, he got in seven games for the White Sox. 2019 was lost to Tommy John surgery, then in the winter of 2020, Dunning was traded to the Texas Rangers in the Lance Lynn deal. He’s now ranked the 98th best prospect in baseball, and his two-seam fastball is a money pitch.
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Randy Arozarena was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as an international free agent in 2016. By 2019, the talented outfielder reached AAA with the Memphis Red Birds. He hit 12 homers with 38 RBI hitting .358. In January of 2020, he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in a big deal. Arozarena has eight major league home runs but not enough at-bats to exceed the rookie of the year rule. He can hit for power, a high average, has terrific speed, and makes a lot of contact. MLB.com is in the middle of raising his ranking. Nobody would be surprised if he wins the award.
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Future Watch: Baseball Rookie Cards: American League Rookie of the Year Candidates – Image Gallery

Russ Cohen