MLB's Top Rookies in 2020
With the MLB season being shortened considerably due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the race for Rookie of the Year will be even hotter this season.
Heading into the season there was a lot of hype surrounding guys like Nate Pearson, Dylan Carlson, and Jo Adell, but so far those three have been quiet in the first month of the season. Instead, there have been a number of other rookies who have started the season strong separating themselves from the rest of the rookie class. If you are in a fantasy baseball keeper league, these players are definitely worth picking up if they are still sitting on the waiver wire.
Jake Croneworth - Shortstop - San Diego Padres
San Diego Padres shortstop Jake CroneworthGregory Bull - Associated Press
The University of Michigan product starred as a closer during his time with the Wolverines, but has been making noise at shortstop for the Padres. Originally drafted in the seventh round of the 2015 MLB Draft by the Tampa Bay Rays, Croneworth was acquired by San Diego in the offseason as part of the trade that sent Hunter Renfroe to Tampa Bay.
Croneworth is hitting .325 this year in 37 games with 4 homers and 19 RBIs. One of those homers was a grand slam on August 22, which was the fifth grand slam the Padres hit in a six game span, marking the first time in MLB history that a team had accomplished that feat. With Croneworth as part of a talented young core, San Diego is surprising many with their performance so far this season.
Randy Dobnak - Pitcher - Minnesota Twins
Minnesota Twins pitcher Randy DobnakJeff Wheeler - Star Tribune
Calling Randy Dobnak's journey to the show interesting might be an understatement. Dobnak was undrafted out of Alderson Broaddus University in West Virginia. The Minnesota Twins signed Dobnak to a minor league contract without seeing Dobnak pitch in person, instead relying on YouTube videos of his starts to make the decision to bring the pitcher in.
After signing with the Twins in 2017, Dobnak made his MLB debut two years later, appearing in nine games for the Twins last year, with five of those appearances being starts. Dobnak finished the regular season with a 2-1 record and 23 strikeouts in 28.1 innings of work.
The right-handed pitcher has been even better this year, posting a 6-2 record in six starts with a 2.72 ERA. Dobnak's pitching has been just as good as his Uber rating, where he has amassed a rating of 4.99 stars since beginning driving for the company in 2017.
Dustin May - Pitcher - Los Angeles Dodgers
One of the most highly-touted rookies in the minor league system of the Dodgers prior to this season was Dustin May, but it's unlikely May will be heading back down to the minors anytime soon. The Dodgers drafted the tall Texan in the third round of the 2016 MLB Draft. Last year, not only was May a Texas League All-Star, but he was also selected for the Futures Game before being called up to the big leagues in early August.
After a solid 2019 that saw him toss 34 innings, May became the youngest Los Angeles pitcher to start on opening day since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981. So far in seven starts this year May is 1-1 with a 2.88 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 40.2 innings for a Dodger team that currently has the best record in baseball.
Kyle Lewis - Right Field - Seattle Mariners
Seattle Mariners right fielder Kyle LewisGene J. Puskar - Associated Press
There hasn't been much to cheer about in Seattle lately, but Kyle Lewis is changing that. The Mercer grad was the 2016 Golden Spikes winner in his final season in college, hitting .395 with 20 home runs and 72 RBIs. The Mariners took Lewis with pick 11 in the first round of the 2016 MLB Draft.
Lewis made a big splash last season in limited action, becoming just the second player in MLB history to homer in each of his first three games. The right fielder finished the 2019 season with six homers in 71 at-bats.
Lewis has been even better in 2020, with the 25-year-old hitting .310 with nine blasts and 23 RBIs in 40 games. Seattle hasn't made the playoffs since 2001 but Lewis has them in the hunt to end their playoff drought. If the Mariners are going to return to the postseason for the first time in nearly two decades, Lewis is going to be a big reason why.
Luis Robert - Center Field - Chicago White Sox
Chicago White Sox center fielder Luis RobertCharlie Reidel - Associated Press
Born in Cuba, Luis Robert's journey to the majors has taken a different path than most. Robert defected in November 2016, which allowed him to sign a contract with the Chicago White Sox in 2017. The Cuban was electric last year in three levels of minor league baseball, hitting 32 home runs, driving in 92 runs, and swiping 36 bases overall.
Robert has been so good, the White Sox signed him to a six-year, $50 million extension in January, even though he still hadn't appeared in a MLB game. So far Robert hasn't taken long to adjust to life in the big leagues, hitting .266 and cranking 11 homers and driving in 27 runs in 39 games for Chicago. With Robert, and a number of other talented young hitters, the White Sox are going to cause a lot of problems going forward in the AL Central.