Today’s entry concludes a brief two-part series on next season’s Rookie of the Year candidates. This piece focuses on candidates on the senior circuit.
Wilin Rosario – C Colorado Rockies
Rosario isn’t a candidate that I’m wild about, but there’s a chance the Rockies like him enough to consider shopping Chris Iannetta. With Rosario offensively, it begins and ends with his power, as his .267/.316/.449 minor league triple-slash would attest. He’s a complete slug on the bases, as was the case even before he had knee surgery last season. Like Lavarnway last week, if Rosario can win the job outright, he’ll be a candidate of circumstance, with the counting stats to match. However, unlike his Boston counterpart, Rosario doesn’t have the scintillating recent track record to stand on, which includes a step back at Double-A this year and not a single plate appearance at Triple-A. Selling high on Iannetta is probably the right move, but is putting Rosario in his position the proper corresponding move? Only time will tell.
Julio Teheran – SP Atlanta Braves
Teheran drew the short straw when it came to whether he or Randall Delgado would nab an open rotation spot during the Braves “September to dismember,” but that’s clearly no indication regarding how fond the club is about the young righty. Ideally, Teheran would snag a spot in the Braves rotation in 2012, with Derek Lowe and his $15 million salary shipped elsewhere just to move it. Teheran – who has blitzed through the minors in four seasons with a 2.96 ERA and 8.6 K/9 rate – would certainly drink to that notion, but not before January. He can’t legally drink until then.
Jarrod Parker – SP Arizona Diamondbacks
It would truly be a great story if Parker could complete his comeback from Tommy John surgery to win the Rookie of the Year award in 2012. Parker, who was picked ninth overall in the 2007 draft, pitched well enough with Double-A Mobile this season to earn a cup of coffee with the D-Backs down the stretch, and did well enough in his spot start to garner a roster spot on the NLDS roster. There’s no shortage of hype surrounding Parker, as he made Baseball America’s top 100 list for four straight seasons, even including the 2010 campaign which he missed entirely, but it’s hard not to love an arsenal that features a mid-to-high 90s fastball, a plus slider, and a workable changeup. Of course, he’s yet to toss at Triple-A, but there’s no doubt that GM Kevin Towers has visions of a rotation of Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Parker, and Trevor Bauer in the very near future.
Brett Jackson – OF Chicago Cubs
There’s really no reason that Jackson shouldn’t be pushing for a starting spot out of spring training, whether it’s in center field with Marlon Byrd shifting to right, or if it’s in right field with the veteran getting preferential treatment. Either way Jackson, whom BA ranked as its 38th best prospect last spring, should have done enough in Triple-A last season to at least get an extended look in spring training. Jackson’s .298/.388/.551 was no doubt PCL-aided – the league as a whole had 42 hitters with a .900 or better OPS – but he’s shown enough in the minors as a whole (.292/.393/.491) to merit a very long look in spring training, and to have a pretty good shot to push aside Tyler Colvin, he of the .509 OPS in 2010. The number one impetus with Jackson will be that he hits, because by all accounts, the rest of his game is well-rounded.
Yonder Alonso – OF Cincinnati Reds
As a man without a big-league position, Alonso has been able to spend the last two campaigns mastering Triple-A pitching, while refining his approach in regards to K/BB and K rates overall. And while it has ostensibly hurt Alonso’s stock – he’s tumbled from the 30s to the 70s in BA’s top prospects list the over the past three seasons – it certainly didn’t make him ill-equipped once he got a more extended look this season with the Reds. Alonso hit .330/.398/.545 and poked nine extra base hits in fewer than 100 PA, all while trying to acclimate himself to left field. Alonso didn’t embarrass himself with the stick, but it’s hard to say the same about his glove. Still, there’s no reason Alonso shouldn’t be given the benefit of the doubt in a battle against free-swinging Chris Heisey, as Heisey’s versatility and skill set would seem more befitting of a fourth outfielder anyway.