MLB Futures: AL and NL Rookie of the year picks 2022
February 15th, 2022
It's always fun to speculate about the next superstars of any sport. There are some intriguing prospects expected to play major roles in the MLB this season. This can be a great market to take advantage of and it's a really good idea to bet into these markets before people get a look at some of these players.
Top Shelf Futures
American League Rookie of the year
Seattle Mariner’s prospect 21 year old Julio Rodríguez is is expected to make his MLB debut sometime in 2022. We anticipate it being on the sooner side and think he will have immediate success when he enters the league.
Many believe Rodríguez has superstar potential, including Baseball America Editor-in-Chief JJ Cooper; “Let’s take the off the field (stuff) out of it, which, by the way, when you say star, there are players who I think embrace being a star, and there are other players who are quite happy to just kind of do their job,” Cooper said. “And the star part either comes or doesn’t, but they’re not really going to work towards that. Julio Rodríguez is someone who I think would quite happily be a face of a franchise, charismatic, dynamic, all that.”
Seattle is in desperate need of a next generation talent that can catapult them back into relevancy as they are in the midst of one of the longest playoff droughts in professional sports. Combine the magnetic personality and star potential Rodríguez has with his on the field and he could easily end up as the AL Rookie of the Year when it’s all said and done. As far as actual baseball skills go it all starts at the plate with the big, powerful outfielder.
Cooper continues; “One of the things that stood out to me last year is doing calls, talking to scouts, talking to coaches, talking to managers about Julio Rodríguez, he’s a .325 career minor league hitter,” Cooper said. “And that sounds like OK, well, yeah, I’m sure there are other guys who do that. And you look at it, though, and you look at the minors over the course of the last, let’s say, 20-25 years, there aren’t actually a whole lot of hitters who have a career .325 average in the minors. That’s rare to do that. And the guys who’ve done that, almost without fail, are really good big league hitters.”
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Juan Soto are a few of the names of recent players with similar minor league stats. Needless to say both of them are MLB stars now and both finished as the MVP runner up in their respective leagues in 2021.
“Now I’m not saying that means it’s guaranteed that Julio Rodríguez is going to be Juan Soto or Vladimir Guerrero Jr.., but that’s the kind of production that he has shown already in the minors,” Cooper said.
What makes Rodríguez especially special, though, is he has that ability to hit for average while also possessing some of the best power among baseball’s prospects. He has the power to be like a monster home run hitter, and he has the hitting ability to be a guy who hits for high average.
There is some competition in the AL ROY market and there are some other intriguing names including the favorites Bobby Witt and Spencer Torkleson. We think that at 16/1 however this number is way out of wack when compared with the other candidates. We view Rodriguez in the same light as Cooper and think that he could be an immediate superstar this year. He should get a lot of chances on a Seattle team that is desperately searching for some success and with his skills and personality he could very easily captivate the country. We’ll take 16/1 and if gets better because he doesn’t get called up right away then we’ll add some more.
Julio Rodriguez - Seattle
AL Rookie of the Year
14/1 or better
National League Rookie of the year
At 6-foot-7 Oniel Cruz is freakishly tall for a baseball players, especially a shortstop. Scouts have long predicted that he can turn his frame into massive power, and last year signs of this were more than evident. Project his minor-league numbers over 150 games, and he ends up with 37 home runs. He played all of two games in the majors last year and already owns the Pirates' record for hardest-hit ball of the Statcast era.
He can also run! Last year had more stolen bases than home runs in the minors. If you project that out over 150 games, he ends up with 41 steals to go with those 37 homers. We're talking about a power/speed profile the likes of which is extremely rare to see if everything comes to fruition. Needless to say his ceiling is extremely high.
Now at 6’ 7” his height may also be viewed as a bit of a negative, it’s very unconventional to say the least. Usually, the taller the hitter the bigger the strike zone and the slower the swing. It makes them more vulnerable to strikeouts, and for a player just breaking in, that's especially troublesome. Aaron Judge, who's also 6-feet-7, managed to succeed in spite of massive strikeout rates early on, but he's a true outlier in terms of how hard he impacts the ball. We’ll see if Cruz can replicate that and find the same kind of success.
We think he has the skills to be successful however, and think people will be captivated by his size and power. He is projected to be the opening day shortstop for the Pirates so he will have a lot of opportunities to play and should be able to rack up some good stats. If we start to see some of the his minor league numbers translate the Majors there will be some serious steam behind him. At 5/1 it’s not the best number but it’s better than a lot of other shops who have him listed as the favorite at anywhere from 3/1 to +350. We’ll take the 5/1 now and hope he starts off the season strong.
Oniel Cruz - Pittsburgh
NL Rookie of the Year
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