10. Felix Hernandez (Seattle Mariners) –
While Felix Hernandez has only made 4 major league starts this year, he has made enough in those 4 starts to be recognized as one of the best rookies in the major leagues. He currently has a 1.24 ERA and has been dominating his opponents with the ease of a skilled veteran. Felix Hernandez is only 19 years old and is probably the best prospective pitcher to come out since Mark Prior. While it is still very early in Felix’s career, he seems to have a very bright future as a dominant No. 1 starter ahead of him.
9. Joey Gathright (Tampa Bay Devil Rays) –
Joey Gathright is one of the fastest players in the majors. Since he only has 100 at-bats to his name, he can’t be ranked higher, but he has shown promise to be an excellent starting center fielder in the majors. He’s hitting .286 and has already stolen 10 bases. Expect Gathright to challenge for the stolen point guard for years to come.
8. Robinson Cano (New York Yankees) –
Robinson Cano has done an excellent job replacing the Yankees at second base this year. He has hit .277, but he also played very well defensively at second base. Playing for the New York Yankees is also a difficult proposition for any player, let alone a rookie. With the Yankees struggling to make the playoffs, the team has come under more scrutiny than ever, and Cano has handled it with as much class as one could hope for.
7. Zach Duke (Pittsburgh Pirates) –
Zach Duke has shown that he has an incredibly nasty cantilever curve, which accompanies a 90 mph heater. At this point he has a 1.87 ERA, going 6-0 to begin his major league career. Duke also pitched a lot of innings in the minors this year, so the Pirates could try to stop him from blowing out. Duke has proven that he is the real deal and could be a force on the Pirates’ staff for years to come.
6. Tadahito Iguchi (Chicago White Sox) –
Tadahito has hit 280 for the White Sox this year, but his courage has been moving runners on the second hole for the White Sox. One of the main reasons the White Sox have been successful this year has been because the team has played solid foundational baseball. A large part of his team has been Tadahito, who has constantly sacrificed his team at bat for the good of the team. While Tadahito’s stats may not surprise you, he has joined the majors and played an integral role in a playoff-caliber baseball club.
5. Ervin Santana (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) –
Ervin Santana is 7-5 with a 4.41 ERA for the Angels this year. As the year progressed, Ervin has become an ever better pitcher. With the Angels battling for a playoff spot, Ervin has become a key cog in the Angels’ rotation. Santana hasn’t given up more than 3 runs in his last 7 outings, and with that kind of production, Santana can be expected to be in the Angels’ rotation for years to come.
4. Joe Blanton (Oakland Athletics) –
Blanton has done an excellent job in his first full season in the majors. Blanton was highly touted in the minor leagues and has come and done the job for the A’s this year. Blanton has a 3.75 ERA this year, but he has shown flashes of brilliance and appears to become the number one starter the Athletics have been looking for.
3. Willy Taveras (Houston Astros) –
Willy Taveras has had an incredible rookie season for the Astros. He is currently hitting .301 with 31 stolen bases. He has also played excellent CF and has been a trailblazer for the Astros lineup all season. When he reaches the base, it is very difficult to prevent him from stealing second place. With Taveras in center field, the Astros have found their leadoff hitter for the present and the future.
2. Gustavo Chacin (Toronto Blue Jays) –
Gustavo has had an excellent season this year for the hapless Blue Jays. His 3.40 ERA, ranks ninth in the American League. Lefties are currently only hitting .198 against him, while he managed to go 11-6 for a losing Blue Jays team. Chacín has shown that he could become a first-line starter in the majors in the very near future.
1. Huston Street (Oakland Athletics) –
Huston Street has been absolutely phenomenal for the Oakland Athletics this year. When Octavio Dotel came down for the Athletics there was a big gap in the closer role. Mr. Street came in and not only did he perform well, but he also helped propel the Athletics into the playoffs. Street has a 1.31 ERA, 16 saves and a .92 WHIP. Street should win the AL Rookie of the Year this year, and with the kind of arm he has, he could be a dominant closer for many years to come.
Honorable Mentions: Nick Swisher, Andrew Sisco, Bobby Jenks, Scott Kazmir, Chien-Ming Wang, Matt Murton, Lance Niekro, Garrett Atkins, Jeff Francoeur, Chris Duffy, Prince Fielder, Delmon Young