Which rookies should be on your radar entering the 2022 season?
One of the changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement between MLB and the Players could make for a more interesting first two weeks in the regular season.
Players who finish in the top two of the Rookie of the Year voting will be granted a full year of service time. So motivation isn’t there to keep kids in the minors; last year, Wander Franco appeared in 70 games for the Rays and finished third.
So which rookies could make an Opening Day roster based on their ability, the need of their big league club and have a shot at earning a year of service time? Here are the most likely guys .
Spencer Torkelson, 1B/3B, Tigers
The Tigers have a fascinating lineup already with the addition of Javier Baez at short. Miguel Cabrera told reporters over the weekend that he would be okay with more time at DH if that means Torkelson’s bat is in the lineup. That’s how highly the organization — and his future teammates — think of his ability at the plate.
Adley Rutschman, C, Orioles
Considered by many to be the top prospect in baseball, Rutschman has lived up to the hype that followed him into professional ball when he was the No. 1 overall pick in 2019. He’s a good catcher and has a bat that will play everywhere.
Bobby Witt, Jr., SS, Royals
Witt probably could have been with the Royals last year and should make his big league debut this season. The only question is when. He does everything well and the bat will help him make an impact immediately.
Julio Rodríguez, OF, Mariners
This kid has all the tools you would want to build around. Which makes the Mariners such an interesting team going forward; they already have youngsters in Jarred Kelenic and 2020 AL ROY Kyle Lewis, and veteran Mitch Haniger had a strong 2021 season. Rodríguez might be the best of the group.
Riley Green, OF, Tigers
Everything we said about Torkelson plays here. Green is a great talent who could make the Tigers’ lineup deeper immediately. If the Tigers can make room for Green and Torkelson this season, they’ll be a sleeper to make life miserable for teams.
- Shane Baz, RHP, Rays
- Vidal Bruján, 2B, Rays
- Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Orioles
- Cristian Pache, OF, A’s
Joey Bart, C, Giants
Bart has been their top prospect behind the plate for a couple years. Now that Buster Posey has officially called it a career, Bart will get the chance to win the every day spot behind the plate in San Francisco.
Oneil Cruz, SS, Pirates
Pirates fans should be excited about the left side of their infield once Cruz joins Ke’Bryan Hayes, their tremendous young third baseman. Cruz has the potential to make an impact right away for the Bucs, who don’t have free agents lining up to block his promotion.
Hunter Greene, RHP, Reds
The Reds have already traded Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo could be next. Greene is a flame-throwing arm who could blow away batters with his terrific stuff. The more arms the Reds move out of their rotation, the bigger the opportunity for Greene to show what he can do.
Keibert Ruiz, C, Nationals
One of the key pieces the Nationals received in the Max Scherzer/Trea Turner trade with the Dodgers last year, Ruiz is a major league-ready backstop who will be the man behind the plate in Washington. He hit three home runs with 15 RBI in 96 plate appearances in the big leagues last year.
Bryson Stott, SS, Phillies
Stott should get a long look as the Phillies look to solve their shortstop position in 2022. He’s their top prospect and posted a .390 OBP in 487 plate appearances last year as he made the climb all the way from High-A to Triple-A in one season.
- Brennen Davis, OF, Cubs
- Alek Thomas, OF, Diamondbacks
- Geraldo Perdomo, SS, Diamondbacks
- Matthew Liberatore, LHP, Cardinals