Orioles’ Henderson, D-backs’ Carroll among top MLB rookies
A year after Julio Rodríguez and Michael Harris II delivered a pair of breakout performances, another group of prospects is searching for big league success.
Here is a closer look at some of the majors’ most intriguing rookies this year:
— INF Gunnar Henderson, Baltimore Orioles: The 21-year-old Henderson made his major league debut last summer, batting .259 with four homers and 18 RBIs in 34 games. The Alabama native and second-round pick in the 2019 amateur draft is expected to play a prominent role this year as the Orioles try to build on their surprising finish last season.
— OF Corbin Carroll, Arizona Diamondbacks: With the speedy Carroll in the fold, Arizona could have one of baseball’s most athletic lineups. The 22-year-old Carroll hit 24 homers and swiped 31 bases in the minors last year and then was promoted by Arizona in August and hit .260 in 32 games in the majors. He was selected by the Diamondbacks with the No. 16 pick in the 2019 draft.
— C Francisco Álvarez and RHP Kodai Senga, New York Mets: There are questions about Álvarez’s defensive ability, and New York has Omar Narváez and Tomás Nido behind the plate. But Álvarez can swing the bat. He hit .260 with 27 homers and 78 RBIs in 112 games over two minor league stops last year.
The 30-year-old Senga was 11-6 with a 1.94 ERA in 22 starts for the Pacific League’s Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks last season. He finalized a $75 million, five-year contract with New York in December.
— OF Oscar Colás, Chicago White Sox: The sweet-swinging Colás could be in right field for Chicago on opening day, making his big league debut. He hit .314 with 23 homers and 79 RBIs in 2022 in his first year in the minors.
— RHP Hunter Brown, Houston Astros: A fifth-round pick in the 2019 draft out of Wayne State University, Brown had an impressive big league debut last year. He went 2-0 with a 0.89 ERA in seven appearances for the AL West champions, including two starts. Then he pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings over three postseason games.
— INF/OF Miguel Vargas, Los Angeles Dodgers: The reigning NL West champions plan to start Vargas at second base, creating a promising double-play duo with shortstop Gavin Lux. The 23-year-old Vargas made his major league debut with Los Angeles in August. He batted .304 with 17 homers, 82 RBIs and 16 steals for Triple-A Oklahoma City last year.
— SS Anthony Volpe, New York Yankees: Volpe, a first-rounder in 2019, is coming off an impressive season, hitting .249 with 21 homers, 65 RBIs and 50 steals over 132 games combined with Double-A Somerset and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He likely will be in the mix at shortstop and second base with New York.
— C Bo Naylor, Cleveland Guardians: Naylor made it to the majors in October, appearing in five games with the AL Central champions. This year, he likely will team with Mike Zunino as Cleveland’s main options behind the plate. Naylor, the younger brother of Guardians slugger Josh Naylor, hit .263 with 21 homers and 68 RBIs in the minors in 2022.
— OF Masataka Yoshida, Boston Red Sox: It was a bumpy offseason for Boston, but the Red Sox managed to sign Yoshida to a $90 million, five-year contract in December. The 29-year-old Yoshida batted .335 with 21 homers and 88 RBIs in 119 games last year for Orix in Japan’s Pacific League. He also helped Japan win gold at the Tokyo Olympics.
— OF Jordan Walker, St. Louis Cardinals: St. Louis has a deep lineup anchored by Nolan Arenado and NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt, and help is on the way with the dynamic Walker. The 20-year-old Georgia native batted .306 with 19 homers, 68 RBIs and 22 steals for Double-A Springfield last year. Walker was selected by the Cardinals with the No. 21 pick in the 2020 draft.
— INF Ezequiel Tovar, Colorado Rockies: Tovar was sidelined by a groin injury for more than two months last year, but he was promoted to the majors in September and collected two hits in his big league debut. The 21-year-old Tovar hit .319 with 14 homers, 49 RBIs and 17 steals in the minors last season.
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