2023 Rookies of the Year? MLB team managers say
While Julio Rodríguez’s presence in the Mariners’ Opening Day 2022 lineup might have surprised some, once the Dominican started playing, he became a strong contender for the League’s Rookie of the Year award. American, an award that would end up winning easily. Meanwhile, no one in the National League could have predicted that Michael Harris II would make the jump from Double-A to the big leagues, much less that he would win Rookie of the Year.
As you can see, predicting who the 2023 Rookies of the Year will be is a tough one. We recently made our own picks – among many picks – on the MLB Pipeline Podcast. But what is thought within the world of baseball?
We present team leaders – from general managers to minor league CIOs, scouting departments and analytics specialists – with a series of questions on a variety of topics. Among many topics, we asked what their 2023 Rookie of the Year picks did in each league.
These are the results:
There were eight other prospects who received one vote each (listed in alphabetical order): Elly De La Cruz, SS/3B, Reds; Sal Frelick, OF, Brewers; Matt Mervis, 1B, Cubs; Bobby Miller, RHP, Dodgers; Jared Shuster, LHP, Braves; Ezequiel Tovar, SS, Rockies; Miguel Vargas, 3B/OF, Dodgers; Jordan Walker, OF, Cardinals.
Carroll is the clear favorite, after playing pretty well in his Major League debut last year. And the most impressive thing is that he had lost almost all of 2021 after shoulder surgery. He parlayed his time in the minors in 2022 with a 1.035 OPS, mostly between Double-A and Triple-A before being called up by the D-backs.
The tools are definitely there, and he’s one of the best pure hitters among prospects in all of baseball, along with a 70-rated velocity on the scouts’ 20-80 rating scale. And he is expected to continue to develop the power of it. He hit 24 home runs in 93 games in the minors in 2022 and could exceed expectations at the time for him in that department.
And definitely, you will get the opportunity. Carroll was probably going to receive it either way, but with the Daulton Varsho trade, Carroll is likely to be the D-backs’ Opening Day center fielder and it’s not out of the question for him to hit leadoff early on.
Venezuelan Álvarez was the only other prospect to receive more than 3% of the vote. The power is legitimate — he’s hit 51 home runs over his last two seasons in the minors — and many believe that strength will be felt in the majors as well. But his path to regular playing time isn’t as clear cut as Carroll’s.
Only five players received votes here:
73% – Gunnar Henderson3B/SS, Orioles
9% – Hunter BrownRHP, Astros
9% – Triston Houses1B, Red Sox
6% – Anthony VolpeSS, Yankees
3% – Josh Jung3B, Rangers
Volpe is the only player in the group who has not yet made his Major League debut. The other four premiered last year. Henderson, the great favorite, is the one who has more experience.
As with Carroll, Henderson has a clear path to a spot on the Orioles’ Opening Day roster, likely at third base (although he is fully capable of playing shortstop). And he also managed when he was called up by Baltimore at age 21, after starting the season in Double-A.
Henderson, taken in the 2019 Draft — one round after the Orioles nabbed Adley Rutschman with the No. 1 pick — made some pretty impressive adjustments after his first full year, learning to be more selective. That helped him get more out of his power and it looks like the left-handed slugger is just getting started. He runs very well and if you add up his numbers between the minors and the majors in 2022, he had a 20-20 season.
Brown and Casas received the same number of votes. Brown was very impressive down the stretch in the Big Tent last year. The Astros welcomed what he did as a reliever in the postseason. There’s no question about his arsenal, with a fastball that hits 99 mph and moves a lot, plus a curveball that also stands out among his four-pitch arsenal. However, questions about his control, not to mention the full rotation of the big club, could send him back to the bullpen. Casas should be the Red Sox’s starting first baseman and he has legitimate power, but is he going to take Justin Turner a few at-bats against left-handed pitching?
Those who voted for Volpe believe he’ll work his way into the Yankees’ lineup sooner rather than later, even if he’s not there for Opening Day. Despite a slow start in 2022, Volpe has gone 20-30 straight seasons in the minors, going 20-50 in 2022, the year he finished in Triple-A. It’s unclear where he would fit in the Yankees’ infield, but don’t be surprised if he hits enough to force the organization’s front office hand.
Jung stepped up last year and hit five major league homers in fewer than 100 at-bats, though he had some trouble with his plan of attack at the plate. He should be given the opportunity to be the Rangers’ third baseman from day one of the season.