This week we’re taking a look at some of the top rookies in Major League Baseball in an attempt to ascertain who is the most deserving candidate for Rookie of the Year in both the American and National Leagues. Today, we’ll take a look at five rookie hitters in the National League who have a solid chance at the Rookie of the Year award. On Monday, we looked at the top rookie hitters in the AL and we looked at the top rookie pitchers in the AL yesterday.
Chris Coghlan, LF/2B, Florida Marlins
Coghlan was originally recalled to help out as a utility player and part-time outfielder right around the time that top prospect Cameron Maybin was demoted to triple-A. The former full-time second baseman (and college third baseman) has turned into a full-time left fielder for the Florida Marlins and he is second in OPS (.786) amongst all National League rookies with 220 or more at-bats. The left-handed hitter is having a nice season after getting off to a slow start when he hit below .200 in May. Overall, Coghlan now has a line of .288/.369/.418 with six homers in 292 at-bats. Oddly, he’s hitting much better outside Florida, with a road average of .329, compared to a home average of .248. Although he’s done a nice job filling in at an unfamiliar position in 2009, Coghlan’s lack of power makes him much more suited to second base, which is the role he could fill in 2010 if the club finally cuts ties with incumbent (and expensive) Dan Uggla.
Dexter Fowler, CF, Colorado Rockies
Fowler has more at-bats (345) than any other rookie in the NL this season. He also leads the youngsters in hits, doubles, runs scored, stolen bases, walks and strikeouts. Overall, the athletic outfielder is hitting .264/.362/.403 with 26 steals in 35 attempts. He has a solid walk rate of 13.8 BB% but his strikeout rate is alarmingly high at 28.1 K%. With his lack of power (.139 ISO), Fowler needs to trim his Ks. A switch-hitter, the 23-year-old Georgia native is hitting .301 versus southpaws but just .248 against right-handers. He has some work to do on his overall game, but Fowler is extremely intelligent and the sky is the limit for this rookie.
Andrew McCutchen, CF, Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates organization was extremely cautious with McCutchen, a former first round pick (11th overall) out of a Florida high school in 2005. The right-handed hitter spent parts of three seasons in triple-A before receiving his first taste of MLB action in 2009. He was well-deserving of the promotion after hitting .303/.361/.493 with 10 steals in 49 games. At the MLB level, McCutchen, 22, has hit .293/.359/.488 with seven homers and 12 steals (in 13 attempts) in 246 at-bats. His walk rate is a little low for a top-of-the-order hitter at 8.9 BB% but he has a solid strikeout rate at 18.3 K%. Although his game is mostly built around his speed, McCutchen has shown more power this year (.195 ISO in 2009 vs .115 in 2008) and he has a healthy line-drive rate at 18.5%. Defensively, he plays a solid center field but he is still learning.
Gerardo Parra, CF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Early on in his career, Parra was essentially considered a poor man’s Carlos Gonzalez (who is now in Colorado). Parra, though, is arguably having more success at the MLB level than his former teammate. The Arizona Diamondbacks organization promoted Parra to the Majors much sooner than expected due to a rash of injuries. Although he was expected to fill in for just a short time, the Venezuela native quickly made himself at home. He is currently hitting .290/.328/.427 with five homers, eight triples and five steals in 307 at-bats. The 22-year-old fielder has always hit for a good average, but he’s impatient at the plate (5.5 BB%) and he does not have the power (.137 ISO) necessary to play a corner outfield spot in the Majors on an everyday basis. He has split most of his time in the Majors between left field and center, where he’s been average at best. He does have a strong arm.
Colby Rasmus, CF, St. Louis Cardinals
Rasmus is having a nice, albeit inconsistent, rookie season for the St. Louis Cardinals. The center fielder has shown flashes of the talent that should one day make him an All-Star. However, Rasmus is hitting .248/.306/.412 with 11 homers in 330 at-bats. He has a walk rate of just 7.0 BB% and a respectable strikeout rate of 19.4 K%, but his BABIP is just .278. Rasmus had a nice month of June, but he hit .218/.291/.397 in July and is currently hitting .167/.300/.167 in August. A more patient approach at the plate, as well as a little more luck on batted balls, could really turn his numbers around.
Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the top rookie pitchers in the National League.
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