2017 saw many stellar rookies in the National League. Cody Bellinger, Paul DeJong and Josh Bell all broke out as some of the promising faces of the future. Rhys Hoskins was another breakout star who didn’t finish as a top ROY candidate due to his late debut. If it wasn’t for Bellinger’s stellar year at the plate, there may have been a closer race for rookie of the year.
There are many top prospects who are likely to make their debuts in 2018, but who will shine above them all? Here is a look at some likely rookie of the year candidates.
Lewis Brinson, OF, Miami Marlins
Brinson was the centerpiece of the Marlins acquisitions in the Christian Yelich trade. While Yelich has a very team-friendly contract, he did not want to take part in the Marlins rebuild. As a result, Milwaukee traded away its best prospect to the Marlins to acquire Yelich.
Brinson will not be a masher by any means, but he is the kind of guy that could possibly compete for the batting title multiple times. He slashed a stunning .331/.400/.562 in Triple-A last year, but did not impress in September last year. That is nothing to worry about though, as his offensive ceiling is sky high right now.
He may be one of the few bright spots the Marlins will see in 2018. Although he won’t be playing in front of very large crowds, expect the young Marlins phenom to have one of the higher batting averages among rookies in 2018.
Ronald Acuna, OF, Atlanta Braves
The 20-year-old Braves phenom will likely reach the majors in 2018. He is currently ranked as the second-best prospect in the majors by MLB.com as well, ranking only behind Shohei Ohtani. He, much like Brinson, has a very high ceiling for his ability to hit at the plate.
What sets Acuna apart from everybody else though is his incredible speed. One could compare him to Billy Hamilton of the Cincinnati Reds. However, Hamilton may have the edge on speed, but Acuna will be able to reach base much more than Hamilton, which makes him immensely more valuable.
Although it is just spring training, Acuna, has hit the ground running in Florida. Although it is an extremely small sample size, his eight hits in 19 at-bats is a sign of things to come for the Braves.
Victor Robles, OF, Washington Nationals
Another young outfielder from the NL East is expected to come onto the scene in 2018. Robles is anticipated to be one of the next great five-tool players in the majors, which will fit nicely next to Bryce Harper. The Nationals will hope to retain Harper after this season so that they could have an outfield that could feature the two young superstars.
Robles is another young player who has a very good future on the base paths, but will be able to reach base enough to make it a large game changer. What has also stood out for Robles is his mature approach to the plate, which is impressive to see in such a young ball player.
The only issue for Robles is his playing time. The Nationals already have a very crowded outfield, meaning he will have to fight his way into the starting lineup.
Nick Senzel, 3B, Cincinnati Reds
Finally, an infielder is being thrown into the mix. The 22-year-old may be one of the most MLB-ready prospects hitting the scene this year, and that is what makes him a prime contender for rookie of the year.
The second overall pick in the 2016 draft is another all around hitter that will fit nicely into the Reds’ already solid offense. The question with Senzel though is whether or not he will be able to hit that 30 home run mark in his career. It is certainly possible as he grows as a hitter, but it will be exciting to see how much his power develops.
In terms of going after the rookie of the year, he does not have the same type of raw talent and athleticism as the outfielders in the NL East. However, he may be at a more developed point in his career right now, which gives him a decent shot at competing for the award this year.
Featured image from Baseball Reference
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