Rookie Watch: Miller, Gattis lead strong NL crop
Last year Mike Trout and Bryce Harper were ranked among the top prospects in baseball. Now we know why. This year most of the preseason hype focused on Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar and Rays outfielder Wil Myers. Both remain in the minors. In the meantime, dozens of rookies have begun to make their mark, most notably in the National League. Here's a look at the top five rookies of the moment (all statistics through April 22):
1. Shelby Miller, RHP, CardinalsStats: 3-1, 2.16 ERA, 26 K in 25 IP
Nolan Ryan. Roger Clemens. Kerry Wood. Josh Beckett. Is it too soon to add Miller to the list of elite Texas-born fireballers? Listed as the Cardinals' fifth starter, Miller has pitched like an ace this season, baffling hitters with his upper 90s fastball and nasty curveball.
2. Evan Gattis, C, BravesStats: .250 BA, 5 HR, 12 RBI, .596 SLG
Gattis might be the best the story in baseball right now. A non-roster invitee to spring training, Gattis lit up the Grapefruit League and won a spot on the opening-day roster as the Braves' backup catcher. After hitting four homers in his first 25 major league at-bats, including blasts off Roy Halladay and Stephen Strasburg, Gattis became the primary catcher and cleanup hitter. If Gattis keeps raking, the Braves could have a catcher controversy when six-time All-Star Brian McCann rejoins the team next month. One last Gattis note: He leads the Braves with four game-winning RBIs, including this pinch-homer against the Pirates.
3. Jose Fernandez, RHP, MarlinsStats: 0-1, 3.60 ERA, 17 K in 15 IPA first-round pick in 2011, Fernandez had never pitched above High-A before this season. For openers, he became the youngest pitcher to register at least eight strikeouts in his major-league debut since 18-year-old David Clyde struck out eight in 1973. Fernandez, 20, limited the Phillies to two hits and two walks while striking out five in his second start. He wasn't quite as sharp his last time out, as the Reds tagged him for five runs in four innings. With there plus pitches at his disposal, it won't be long before Fernandez earns his first victory for the Marlins.
4. A.J. Pollock, OF, DiamondbacksStats: .309 BA, 2 HR, 8 RBI, .582 SLGOpportunity knocked and Pollock answered. Because of injuries to Adam Eaton, Jason Kubel and Cody Ross, Pollock continues to see regular playing time in the D-backs' outfield. You can't argue with the results: 11 of his 19 hits have gone for extra bases, including a two-homer game on April 10. A first-round pick in the 2009 draft, Pollock is one of those players that does everything well -- but nothing spectacularly well. Just a solid, gritty player. The kind of player that manager Kirk Gibson can appreciate. Pollock may end up as the team's fourth outfielder, but right now he's a major contributor for the D-backs.
5. Hyun-Jin RyuStats: 2-1, 4.01 ERA, 26 K in 24.2 IPThe Dodgers paid $60 million in bonuses and posting fees to bring Ryu over from Korea, so they expect him to contribute immediately. So far, so good. The left-hander has worked at least six innings in all four of his starts and has shown great command (26/5 strikeout-to-walk ratio). Ryu expects to have success on the mound, but even he was surprised by his 3-for-3 night at the plate on April 14. He had not batted in a game since high school when he joined the Dodgers this spring. And he can dance, too. Check out Ryu perform his own version of "Gangnam Style" -- with some help from Matt Kemp and Clayton Kerhsaw.