It’s that time of year again and here at Couch Rider Report we’ve got you covered on all things baseball! Starting off however, we’re going to talk about briefly about the 2018 Rookies and then dive into the top projected rookies for the upcoming 2019 season!
2018 saw the likes of Braves outfield phenom, Ronald Acuna edge out Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler and Nationals outfielder Juan Soto to win the NL Rookie of the Year. Shohei Ohtani took home the AL Rookie honors by beating out a pair of Yankees, Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres. Acuna didn’t even start the season in the majors and he still managed to put up crazy numbers. In only 111 games played, Acuna managed 127 hits, including 26 home runs, 64 RBI’s and a .918 OPS. He crossed the plate 78 times and stole 16 bags. If there was one negative was that he averaged more than a strikeout per game with 123 K’s. This was no doubt Acuna’s award to win against excellent competition in the National League.
However, Ohtani was a shocking choice to me for the AL ROTY. He was injury plagued for a good portion of the season. The duel-threat star, made only 10 starts on the mound, compiling 51.2 innings pitched. He gave up 19 earned runs on 38 hits. He gave up 6 long balls and had a K/BB ratio of 63/22. He finished with a 4-2 record and a 3.31 ERA. At the plate, he hit 22 home runs and 61 RBI’s, while striking out 102 times and walking only 37.
That however was last year, there were many other memories from the youngsters around Major League Baseball. With Spring Training only days away, let’s move on and talk about who could potentially stand out in 2019!
1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – Third Baseman, Toronto Blue Jays
This young stud is clearly the front runner for the Rookie of the Year and Spring Training hasn’t even started yet. He could have been on the major league club last season but Toronto wanted to wait until 2019 to bring him up to the big stage. The son of Vladimir Guerrero Sr. spent most of the 2018 season at AA with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats before making the jump to Triple-A to finish the year with the Buffalo Bisons. For the season as a whole, he crushed 20 home runs and 78 RBI’s while moving up the system as a member of four teams total. He’s just chomping at the bits to get his chance against major league pitchers and show people what he can do on the main stage. People are saying that he has more power than his father who just was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame last summer. If his highlight reel is any indication, this could very well be true. It’s unclear if he’ll start the year on the big league club or if he’ll wait a couple weeks before being called up.
2. Eloy Jimenez – Outfielder, Chicago White Sox
I can’t say enough about what Eloy Jimenez has done in the minors. He started out in the Chicago Cubs farm system before being traded to the White Sox back in 2017. The Sox clearly won the trade as Eloy is the number three ranked prospect in all of baseball and he wasn’t the only piece the Cubs traded for a middle of the rotation pitcher in Jose Quintana. Since joining the Sox farm system, Eloy has done nothing but smash the baseball. He’s hit 33 home runs and 108 RBI’s. Last season alone, he hit 22 long balls with 75 RBI’s and averaged an outstanding .331 batting average between Double and Triple-A. He only struck out 69 times the entire season while bouncing between the teams. Jimenez has an extremely bright future and the Sox will be finding a place for him in their outfield come the middle of April since he more than likely won’t start with the big league club opening day and pull a Kris Bryant.
3. Fernando Tatis Jr. – Shortstop, San Diego Padres
Fernando Tatis spent all of last season in Double-A with the San Antonio Missions. Tatis Jr. is finally on the verge of moving up to the majors and begin his own legacy seperate from his father Tatis Sr. who played years ago. The newly turned 20 year old, had a nice season in the Texas League. He recorded 101 hits in the 88 game season. That’s probably the stat that sticks out the most. He also cut down on his strikeouts from the 2017 season going from 141 to 109 last year which is a good sign. It’s unclear when he’ll be up with the big league club, but it’s definitely pointing to sometime in 2019.
4. Victor Robles – Outfielder, Washington Nationals
The Major League crowd got to witness Robles for 21 games last season so this 21 year old stud has a bit of an advantage over the rest of the Top 5. While up with the Nationals, Robles recorded 17 hits in 59 at bats and hit 3 dingers. He played very limited time but still had a .288 average. It appears unclear at this time if Robles will start the year with the Nationals or if he will be down in the Minors.
5. Forrest Whitley – Right Handed Pitcher, Houston Astros
Rounding out the Top 5 is a promising young star in the Astros farm system. Despite having an 0-2 record last season, Whitley put up solid numbers including 34 strike outs over 26.1 innings pitched. He recorded a fantastic WHIP of 0.99 and a .160 batting average against. Currently in his minor league career he’s 6-8 with a 3.28 ERA in 39 games, 32 of those have been starts. He’s been able to limit the long ball quite efficiently allowing only 7 dingers in 137.1 innings pitched. Look for him to join the Astros some time in 2019 and be a nice addition to the rotation and or bullpen.
There are many other prospects that will be sure to show off their talents in 2019. Some in particular are as followed:
Royce Lewis – Shortstop, Twins
Nick Senzel – 3B/2B/OF, Reds
Alex Kirilloff – Outfielder, Twins
Kyle Tucker – Outfielder, Astros
Brendan Rodgers – Infielder, Rockies