Last year’s class of rookies in Major League Baseball shined brightly, but can this year’s group be better? The race for the 2023 AL Rookie of the Year award begins on Opening Day, and a number of highly-touted rookies will look to take home the award won by Mariners star Julio Rodriguez in 2022. Let’s take a look at five names to watch.
We’ll start off with Astros starting pitcher Hunter Brown, who made his Major League debut late last season — and impressed along the way. Brown struck out 22 over his first 20.1 IP, thanks a very good fastball, a plus curveball, and a hard slider that pairs well with the heat.
The 24-year-old will start the 2023 campaign in a deep Astros rotation, but can he have the same kind of success in the Majors this year. While it may not be an indication of his regular season, Brown did post a 5.00 ERA over nine Grapefruit League innings.
Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman lost out on the 2022 AL Rookie of the Year award to Julio Rodriguez, but can Gunnar Henderson win it in 2023? Henderson hit at every Minor League level he played at from 2021-22, and forced his way to the Majors late last year. The Alabama native hit .259/.348/.440 with four home runs, 12 extra base hits, and 18 runs batted in over 34 games.
The 21-year-old flashed a great hit tool and above-average power in the Minors, assets that could push the O’s towards competing for a playoff spot in 2023.
A first-round pick by the Rangers in 2019, Josh Jung‘s first go-around in the Majors could have went better. Jung — who was one of our ten rookie hitters that could make a big impact in fantasy this year — hit just .204 over his first 98 at-bats in 2022 and posted the fourth-worst K% (38.2%) rate. The 25-year-old did post a nice spring, as he hit .321 with three home runs for the Rangers in Cactus League action.
A power hitter in the Minors, Jung’s contact and power skills should translate well at the Major League level.
Gunnar Henderson isn’t the only Orioles rookie that could win the AL Rookie of the Year award. O’s right-hander Grayson Rodriguez may not be on Baltimore’s roster to begin the season, but he should be in the short order. The hard-throwing right-hander owns a very solid fastball, to go along with one of the best changeups in the Minors and a pair of breaking balls.
A former 2018 first-round pick, Rodriguez most likely would be a second-year player entering 2023 had he not missed all of last year due to injury. His status as an elite pitching prospect has not changed, however.
Yankees infielder Anthony Volpe put up a torrid spring, one that allowed him to beat out Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Oswald Peraza for the starting shortstop role. A power-hitting middle infielder with a good stroke at the plate and plus discipline, Volpe stands a solid chance of being the next cornerstone at short in The Bronx.
No Yankee has won the AL Rookie of the Year award since Aaron Judge in 2017. Volpe, if he puts up a strong campaign, could follow in Judge’s footsteps.