Puig, Fernandez lead NL-heavy 'Rookie Watch'

BY foxsports • July 31, 2013

For whatever reason, the 2013 rookie chase is heavily slanted toward the National League, so much that not a single American Leaguer was considered for this week's survey of top performers.

Here are the top five rookies, based on that their stats through July 30.

Puig had an amazing week for the Dodgers, leading the club in hits (nine), runs (six), homers (two), batting average (.375), on-base percentage (.444), slugging (.708) and OPS (1.153) from July 23-30.

As a capper, the 22-year-old Cuban has taken America by storm over the last two months, notching his first walk-off homer on Sunday, clinching the Dodgers'1-0 win over the Reds.

Puig, a midseason co-favorite for NL Rookie of the Year who debuted on June 3, has racked up multiple-hit outings in 22 of 49 games.

2. SP Jose Fernandez, Marlins

Fernandez could be a tough sell for Rookie of the Year honors, simply because the Marlins are exploring the notion of limiting his innings in August and September — or the Strasburg option of shutting Fernandez down after 150-160 innings.

It's a smart move ... even if there's no reason to watch the Marlins when Giancarlo Stanton isn't at the plate.

For the year, opposing hitters have a paltry .195 batting average against Fernandez, who just turned 21 on July 31.

Since June 1, Fernandez is a perfect 10 for 10 in surrendering three runs or less, a credit to the Marlins' better-than-expected defense. In that span, the rookie dynamo has tallied seven-plus strikeouts six times — highlighted by three double-digit outings.

3. SP Shelby Miller, Cardinals

If Miller was an American Leaguer, he'd be a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year honors — given his sublime seasonal numbers and the relative dearth of quality competition in that category.

The July stats for the Cardinals righty are remarkably similar to his yearly tallies — 2-1, 2.78 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 23/10 K-BB and .224 opponents' batting average — detailing consistency that's typically uncommon in 22-year-olds.

To open the season, Miller posted 12 consecutive outings of three runs or fewer. Miller has a similar streak going in July, with four starts in a row of three runs or less.

Plus, Miller has recorded five or more strikeouts in nine of last his last 10 outings — with a June 28 clunker being the lone hiccup.

4. SP Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dodgers

Ryu tossed a seven-inning gem against the Reds on Saturday, surrendering just one run, one walk and two hits, while striking out nine.

It might have been the signature performance from the Dodgers rookie as the Los Angeles (57-48) has built a 3mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri;mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:
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At 26, Ryu has been an eminently consistent asset all season: Among 20 starts, he has allowed three runs or less 16 times and three or fewer walks 18 times.

5. SP Julio Teheran, Braves

Ah, so this is why the Braves refused to part with Teheran during offseason trade talks with the Diamondbacks, involving Justin Upton (and Chris Johnson — the National League's current batting leader).

Teheran, who turned 22 three days after Upton was traded to Atlanta for a boatload of prospects, was an untouchable trade commodity in the Braves' eyes. Today, that stubbornness is paying off big time.

Teheran has most certainly turned a significant corner. Since April 23 in 17 starts, Teheran has allowed one run or less 10 times.

Of equal importance, Teheran hasn't allowed four walks or more in all 20 of his starts — a rare rookie feat.

SP Zack Wheeler, Mets

On Tuesday against the Miami Marlins, Wheeler — a pre-deadline acquisition for the Mets two years ago (in exchange for Carlos Beltran) — took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before settling on just two runs and three hits allowed in a no-decision.

On a larger scale, Wheeler has a five-game streak of surrendering three runs or less and a seven-outing streak of three walks or less.

Put it all together, and Wheeler is slowly, but steadily catching up to the New York hype of fellow Mets pitcher Matt Harvey — at least on the field.