Rookie Watch: Miller still dominating; Arenado arrives
Here is our weekly look at the top five rookies of the moment. Once again, it’s wall-to-wall National Leaguers (all statistics through Monday):
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1. Shelby Miller, RHP, Cardinals
4-2, 1.96 ERA, 38 K, 11 BB in 36 2/3 IP
Miller picked up his fourth win of the season Friday night in Milwaukee, allowing seven hits and a walk in six innings while striking out five.
Cardinals starting pitchers have compiled a major-league best 2.21 ERA over 31 starts. Miller is certainly doing his part, but he gives plenty of credit to the veterans in the clubhouse.
“I’m in one of the best rotations in the league,” he said. “I get to be around guys who have been around for awhile. Waino (Adam Wainwright), (Jake) Westbrook, guys who’ve had more time. It’s fun to be around guys like that.”
Miller currently ranks 7th in the NL in ERA, and 9th in K/9 IP (9.33) and 11th in opp. BA (189).
2. Evan Gattis, C-1B-OF, Braves
Stats: .260/.305/.563, 7 HR, 19 RBI
The Braves have a problem. It’s a problem most teams would love to have.
With All-Star catcher Brian McCann back from the disabled list, keeping Gattis’ bat in the lineup could be a challenge for manager Fredi Gonzalez.
Gattis is expected to play behind McCann and also get spot starts at first base and in the outfield. He started in left field Monday night. How quickly Jason Heyward recovers from his appendectomy will also affect Gattis, who led all rookies in April with six home runs and 16 RBI.
Even if Gattis sits a few days a week, he will be a nice weapon off the bench. Five of his seven homers have come with the game tied.
3. Tony Cingrani, LHP, Reds
Stats: 2-0, 2.63 ERA, 33 K, 5 BB in 24 IP
Cingrani allowed three hits in his last start, but two of them were two-run homers by Alfonso Soriano. The damage done, Cingrani settled down and retired the final 10 batters he faced. He lasted six innings and struck out five with just one walk, and the Reds rallied for a 6-4 victory.
After four starts, the only real knock against Cingrani is that he doesn’t work deep into games. That will happen when you miss bats at a rate of 12.4 strikeouts per 9 innings.
Clearly, Cingrani has made a strong case for himself to stay in the rotation even when Johnny Cueto returns from the disabled list.
4. A.J. Pollock, OF, Diamondbacks
Stats: .267/.286/.495, 4 HR, 14 RBI, 5 SB
In spring training, Pollock looked like the odd man out. He was behind rookie Adam Eaton, Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra and Cody Ross on the D-backs’ outfield depth chart.
Injuries gave Pollock an opportunity to receive regular at-bats, and he’s settled in as the D-backs’ leadoff hitter. He leads all rookies with 11 doubles and five stolen bases.
With Eaton expected to return by the end of the month, Pollock realizes he could be in for a bit of a playing-time crunch.
“Everyone is supportive. We’re all behind everyone,” Pollock said. “Maybe I won’t play every day, but I still have to be ready to play.”
5. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies
Stats: .323/.364/.677, 3 HR, 8 RBI in seven games
He’s only been in the majors for a week. But what a week it was, highlighted by a grand slam off Rays ace David Price.
Considered the Rockies’ best position player prospect since Troy Tulowitzki, Arenado nearly made the team in spring training and continued to produce at Triple-A (.364 with three homers, 21 RBI). Now the third base job is his with Chris Nelson out of the picture.
Don’t expect too many three-homer weeks from Arenado, though. He’s more of a high-average, line-drive hitter with gap power.