10 rookies who have excelled over the past month

May 22nd, 2024

There's been a lot of fluctuation on the rookie front in the past 30 days or so. Not all of the Top 100 prospect debuts made some noise, and as a result, some others with more notable performances over the last four weeks played themselves back into contention for the latest edition of MLB Pipeline's Rookie Hot List.

Each month, MLB.com looks at which rookies performed best over the past 30 days. This isn't a prediction of which players will take home Rookie of the Year honors -- it's merely a reflection of how the top prospects have played during this period of time.

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Without question, Shota Imanaga has thrust himself into the spotlight over the course of his first two months in the Major Leagues. The Cubs southpaw ranked second in the April edition of the Rookie Hot List, but he vaulted to the top spot by continuing to deliver for Chicago. But he's not the only rookie arm making a name for himself. In fact, divisional foe Jared Jones has increasingly impressed for the Pirates.

And speaking of Pittsburgh, Paul Skenes has made quite the splash with the first two starts of his Major League career -- including seven hitless innings last time out -- but with just two appearances, the 2023 first overall pick wasn't eligible for this month's rankings.

Some of last month's fast starters -- Colton Cowser (Orioles), Michael Busch (Cubs) and Jackson Merrill (Padres) -- cooled off and dipped out of the Top 10, while other rookies, even some making recent strides in their respective roles like D-backs reliever Justin Martinez, fell short of the cut this time around.

Lest we wait much longer, let's take a look at the hottest rookies since April 17 (all stats through Monday).

1. Shota Imanaga, LHP, CHC (previous rank: 2): Leading a rotation with divisional title aspirations, Imanaga has not only been the Cubs’ most efficient starter but also one of baseball’s brightest storylines for the 2024 season. The southpaw has put himself at the forefront of Cy Young and Rookie of the Year conversations, sporting an ERA south of 1.00 on the year. Imanaga, in this most recent stretch, posted a 1.17 ERA in 38 1/3 innings, striking out 42 batters while only walking seven.

2. Joey Ortiz, 3B, MIL (previous rank: 9): Falling a triple shy of the cycle Friday, Ortiz has powered through the last month as one of the hottest rookie hitters. Acquired in the Corbin Burnes trade with the Orioles, the 5-foot-9 infielder has generated a .274/.386/.589 slash line, compiling 12 extra-base hits, five of them home runs -- tied for the most over the past 35 days with the Dodgers’ Andy Pages and Boston's Ceddanne Rafaela.

3. Wenceel Pérez, OF, DET (previously unranked): Becoming an everyday starter in an outfield that has shaped up much differently than it did to start the season, Pérez has forced Tigers manager A.J. Hinch to keep penciling him in the starting lineup given his hot bat from both sides of the plate. The 24-year-old led rookies with four triples while slashing .314/.388/.547 in this recent stretch, ranking second among qualified rookies in OBP for the year.

4. Mason Miller, RHP, OAK (previous rank: 6): It didn't take long for Miller to start lighting up the radar gun and become one of the most consistent arms out of the bullpen in the American League. The Athletics’ electric arm, who hasn't allowed a run in his past nine appearances, ranked in the 100th percentile in six Baseball Savant categories and five more times in percentiles greater than 90th. Miller has picked up a rookie-best five saves behind his fastball-slider mix, striking out 23 while walking just two over 11 1/3 innings.

5. Wilyer Abreu, OF, BOS (previously unranked): Along with fellow Red Sox rookie Ceddanne Rafaela, Abreu landed in the top six for RBIs by newcomers this season over this last stretch. The 24-year-old lefty drove in 15 runs on the strength of four homers and a rookie-leading 10 doubles. Abreu -- acquired by Boston in the Christian Vázquez trade in 2022 -- hit .296 with a .910 OPS in 29 games.

6. Luis Gil, RHP, NYY (previously unranked): After being sidelined by an elbow injury during the previous two seasons, Gil has carved out a role for the Yankees in 2024. The 25-year-old tossed 35 innings with a 1.80 ERA across his last six starts, piling up the most strikeouts among rookie starters with 42 -- tied with Imanaga. Fourteen of those punchouts came in his most recent outing, as he posted a career high across six innings of one-run ball. Gil -- who dominated hitters with 22 swings-and-misses his last time out -- has thrived off his mid-to-high 90s fastball.

7. Otto Lopez, 2B, MIA (previously unranked): Shifting between three positions on the field, Lopez has found a more consistent home at second base with the Marlins. The 25-year-old ranks in the 85th percentile in Outs Above Average with two while also swinging a hot bat over the past 35 days. Lopez, who played sparingly for the Blue Jays in 2021-22, has produced a consistent slash line -- .300/.345/.540 with three homers and three doubles.

8. Bryan Hudson, LHP, MIL (previously unranked): Miller hasn’t been the only dominant rookie reliever of late. Hudson -- a 27-year-old lefty who joined the Brewers in a January trade -- has thrived in multiple-inning appearances, sporting a 0.47 ERA with 23 strikeouts in his last 19 1/3 frames. Drafted out of high school by the Cubs in 2015, Hudson has seemingly found a home in the bullpen with his third pro organization.

9. Jared Jones, RHP, PIT (previous rank: 10): While Paul Skenes has drawn the lion's share of attention among the Pirates’ young arms, he slid into a rotation already deploying a dominant rookie. Jones remained on the Hot List behind a barrage of slugging position players because he has been nothing short of dominant. Across his last 30 innings, the righty struck out 31 batters while walking five -- the lowest among rookie starters with at least 25 innings in the past 35 days -- and posted a 2.70 ERA.

10. Andy Pages, OF, LAD (previously unranked): While his offensive numbers have taken a slight dip, Pages has been one of the consistent starters among rookie position players. In the most recent span, the outfielder played in the most games (30) and provided some power in the Dodgers lineup. He's tied with Ortiz and Rafaela with five homers while compiling a slash line of .257/.293/.442. Pages has also stood out defensively with two Outs Above Average and ranks in the 79th percentile of Arm Value.