I always caution people not to go “all in” with rookies. The lure is intense, I’m not going to deny that, but in the end youngsters often end up disappointing because of the unreasonable expectations placed upon them. With that, here are my thoughts on some of the more heralded rookies who many were banking on getting great results from in 2011.
Dustin Ackley (.267-1-3-2-0 in 15 ABs)
Ackley is off to a solid start to his big league career with a hit in each of his four games played. He’s only whiffed one time though we’ve yet to see his trademark ability to get on base as he has only one walk. The Mariners say he’s going to play every day, and with that he is an intriguing mixed league option. I wrote about Ackley in The Prospect Trinity.
Domonic Brown (.213-4-11-11-2 in 94 ABs)
Brown has tons of talent, all the physical tools needed to be a fantasy star really, but he’s still a pretty raw ballplayer. Add in his work from last season and we are looking at a guy with a .212/.274/.385 slash line in 156 big league at-bats. The six homers and 24 RBI in that time are passable, as are the four steals, but the fact of the matter is that Brown still needs to hone his ample skills because he’s shown little consistency with the Phillies.
Eric Hosmer (.276-5-22-20-2 in 17 ABs)
The Royals’ phenom burst on to the scene with five homers and 17 RBI in his first 23 games. However, in the 18 games since his hot start he’s managed a mere .615 OPS thanks in part to zero homers in 71 at-bats. He’s also knocked in only five runs in the month of June. Given how deep the first base position is, it may be time to see if you can convince someone in your league that Hosmer is the hitter he was in May and not the guy who is struggling to keep his OBP (.326) and SLG (.418) at league average levels (.323 and .397).
Desmond Jennings (.282-10-33-52-12 in 262 ABs at Triple-A)
Jennings has show more power this season than at any point of his development, but unfortunately he’s pretty much stopped running on the bases. Given his skill set he’s going to be paid to steal 40+ bases, not to power 25 homers, so he’d be well served to get back to that approach. With Matt Joyce struggling and Johnny Damon being a potential trade chip at the deadline, Jennings will be called up at some point, though it remains to be seen how imminent the call will be. See The Prospect Trinity, linked to above, for more thoughts on Jennings.
Brett Lawrie (.354-15-49-51-11 in 223 ABs)
He was tearing it up in the minors and was mere days, literally, from being a starting member of the Blue Jays when fate stepped in. Lawrie ended up suffering a fractured hand that he is still working his way back from. It’s highly unlikely we will see him with the Jays before the All-Star break at this point, and that’s if when he returns to action that he picks up where he left off, far from a certainty given his injury. See The Prospect Trinity, linked to above, for more thoughts on Lawrie.
Jesus Montero (.291-5-25-25 in 227 ABs)
Russell Martin has done pretty well this season, Francisco Cervelli is an adequate backup backstop, and Jorge Posada is also always around if the Yankees need a hand behind the dish. That’s a lot of names that Montero will have to jump over. There is always the chance that the club will call him up to DH, but Posada has improved of late (.395 in June) and you would have to think that in the heat of the pennant race that the Yankees would make a move to add a veteran bat if they needed a hitter versus turning things over to an unproven rookie.
Anthony Rizzo (.167-1-2-3-0 in 36 ABs)
First off, it’s merely 36 at-bats, so no one should be panicking. However, Rizzo hasn’t been able to carry over his success in the minors as of yet, something I predicted could happen in my June 7, 2011 Mailbag article. The good news for Rizzo is that the team is committed to him and he will continue to play every day despite the slow start. However, it should be pointed out that he has struck out in a third of his at-bats and has just one RBI in his last nine games.
Speaking of youngsters, I dug up an old article I wrote about the Arizona Fall League in November 2009. You might want to give it a read to see what my first hand impressions were about Ackley, Brown, Mike Moustakas, Ike Davis, Buster Posey and Jemile Weeks amongst others. How accurate were my initial thoughts after watching games for three days?
By Ray Flowers