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With the Rookie of the Year winners announced before Thanksgiving, the experts at MLB Pipeline are thinking about the players likely to be in the running for those honors at this time next year.
Here’s a round-by-round breakdown of their picks:
“He was our Pipeline Hitter of the Year, had a huge year in the Minors going from [Double-A] to Triple-A, and then to the big leagues and showed off the tools there,” Mayo said. “I think the combination of his tools, his ability to use them and the opportunity to he’s going to have right from Day 1 puts him very much in American League Rookie of the Year frontrunner status.”
Callis: Corbin Carroll, OF (ARI No. 1/MLB No. 3)
Carroll had an impressive 32-game stint in the Majors this year, hitting .260/.330/.500 with 17 extra-base hits, and Callis is confident the 22-year-old outfielder will force his way into the Arizona lineup in the early going next year.
“Their outfield is a little crowded,” Callis admitted, “but he’s so talented that I think he’s going to get at-bats.”
Callis: Jordan Walker, 3B/OF (STL No. 1/MLB No. 6)
Walker carried an impressive 2022 season for Double-A Springfield (.306/.388/.510 with 19 homers and 31 doubles) into the Arizona Fall League, where he continued to rake.
“For two broadcasts in a row from the Fall League with Dan O’Dowd, I think Dan must have talked about how much he loved Jordan Walker about a dozen times and how he thinks he’s going to be Rookie of the Year and he’s going to be their opening day right fielder,” Callis said. “So, I will take Jordan Walker with the third pick in this draft.”
Mayo: Logan O’Hoppe, C (LAA No. 1/MLB No. 64)
The backstop was traded from the Phillies to the Angels and made an immediate impact with his new organization, jumping from Double-A Rocket City to the bigs for his Major League debut on Sept. 28. He finished the 2022 season appearing in five games with the Angels, reaching base at least once in each game.
“He came over Brandon Marsh trade, went absolutely bonkers in Double-A and then got called up,” Mayo said. “Should have every opportunity to be their starting catcher. … He’s good on both sides of the ball. I think that he’s going to be a very steadying influence.”
Mayo: Francisco Álvarez, C (NYM No. 1/MLB No. 1)
Noting that the game’s No. 1 overall prospect had not been taken with the first four picks, Mayo seized the moment.
“I will take Francisco Álvarez of the Mets. I don’t think there are roadblocks,” he said. “He can catch. He can DH some, if they want to get his bat into the lineup on a more regular basis. The power is obviously legitimate, so I think he has a chance to hit a bunch of homers and that will automatically open the eyes of Rookie of the Year voters.”
Callis: Triston Casas, 1B (BOS No. 2/MLB No. 25)
Casas made it clear his power plays at the big league level by going yard five times in 27 games for the Red Sox, but he tallied 15 hits, total, in that time.
“It took him a couple weeks to make some adjustments when he got called up in September,” Callis said. “We’ve seen him for years. The power is the carrying tool, but I do like [that] he’s got discipline at the plate, he uses the whole field, he doesn’t sell out for power. So I think he’s going to hit.”
“He would have been part of this year’s class if he hadn’t gotten hurt. He keeps getting hurt — never the same thing, so it’s not anything chronic,” Callis said. “But if he stays healthy, I think Josh Jungwill have a nice Rookie of the Year [chance].”
Mayo: Ezequiel Tovar, SS (COL No. 2/MLB No. 27)
The Rockies shortstop prospect was one of the best performers at the Double-A level before being sidelined mid-summer with hip and groin issues, then picked up right where he left off despite a promotion to Triple-A for a brief stopover on his way to the Majors.
“We saw him in the Fall League a year ago and were impressed even though his overall numbers weren’t very good,” Mayo said. “Took a huge step forward offensively … and he’s got Gold Glove-caliber defense.”
Mayo: Hunter Brown, RHP (HOU No. 1/MLB No. 68)
The righty made his big league debut on Sept. 5 and after seven appearances — including a pair of starts — logged three postseason relief appearances for the World Series champions.
“I do believe he’s going to get every opportunity to pitch very meaningful innings for the Astros in 2023 as they look to try to repeat,” Mayo said.
Callis: Royce Lewis, SS (MIN No. 2/MLB No. 58)
The No. 1 overall pick of the 2017 Draft has turned into an unexpected pick here, as he followed the pandemic-lost 2020 season with a 2021 campaign missed due to a torn ACL, then was sidelined with another tear of the same ACL after a strong 12-game stint in the Majors this year.
“Coming back from the ACL, I just think he’s a dynamic player,” Callis said. “I think he could be that spark that the Twins could really use, so I’m going to go Royce Lewis as my super-deep sleeper.”
For much more about each of these picks and other quality prospect news and analysis, make sure to listen to the full episode of the Pipeline Podcast.