10 to watch in 2016 Rookie of the Year races
Buxton, Seager, Matz among those who are ready to take next step
Carlos Correa and Kris Bryant were announced as the winners of 2015 Rookie of the Year Awards on Tuesday night, but there's no better time to look ahead to a year from now.
Handicapping the 2016 Rookie of the Year Award candidates at this point might seem a bit premature, but given how many rookies took Major League Baseball by storm in '15, it certainly couldn't hurt to see who might be next up on the horizon. Here's a quick look at some candidates in each league, each of whom is on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list.
Jose Berrios, Twins
One of the few top Twins prospects in the upper levels not to make his debut in 2015, the two-time Futures Game starter certainly has earned an opportunity. Berrios led the Minors in strikeouts in 2015, and he finished with a 2.87 ERA and .223 batting average against.
Byron Buxton, Twins
Yes, he's still technically a prospect, just barely. And Buxton hit just .209/.250/.326 in 138 plate appearances. But Mike Trout hit .220/.281/.390 in 40 games during his first callup in 2011. He, of course, went on to win AL Rookie of the Year Award honors (and finished second in the AL MVP Award voting to boot). Buxton may not be the next Trout, but he has the tools -- and with Aaron Hicks having been traded, Buxton should have the opportunity.
Joey Gallo, Rangers
We all know the power is legit. Will Gallo hit enough to tap into it at the big league level? If given the chance to play every day, the answer is yes. With Adrian Beltre at third and Josh Hamilton in left, perhaps there will be enough ABs for Gallo to show what he can do while shuttling between the two spots.
Aaron Judge, Yankees
The opportunity in New York may not appear to be there right now, but Judge and his 6-foot-7 frame are worth watching. He reached 20 homers for the first time in 2015, and he is knocking on the door. Judge's bat and strong arm give him the perfect profile for right field.
Blake Snell, Rays
All Snell did was throw 46 consecutive scoreless innings in 2015 (49 dating back to 2014) while leading the Minors in ERA and batting average against. He also reached the highest level of the Minors and dominated there. The rotation might be crowded, but the lefty deserves a shot to show what he can do.
Steven Matz, Mets
He already has three postseason starts under his belt, so a National League Rookie of the Year Award run for Matz seems feasible, right? The left-hander clearly has the stuff and mound presence to succeed at the highest level. He both misses bats and doesn't hurt himself with walks. There's a lot of young talent on this staff, but Matz has to be a part of the rotation in 2016.
Corey Seager, Dodgers
In 2015, everyone felt Bryant was the front-runner for the NL Rookie of the Year Award, and he turned out to be the unanimous choice for the trophy. So it stands to reason that the early front-runner for next year should be on this list. After Seager posted a .986 OPS during his 27-game regular-season debut, he not only made the postseason roster, he hit near the top of the Dodgers' lineup. If that's not a front-runner, I don't know what is.
Trea Turner, Nationals
Turner may have become "famous" for being the player to be named in the Padres-Nats-Rays deal last offseason, but he's ready to step in as the Nationals' shortstop. He hit a combined .322/.370/.458 with 29 steals in the Minors before his brief big league debut. With Ian Desmond turning down a qualifying offer, shortstop should be Turner's to own.
Julio Urias, Dodgers
Is it going out on a limb to include a pitcher who won't turn 20 until next August? Maybe, but Urias has been pushing the envelope ever since he signed in 2012. He did only throw 80 1/3 innings last year, so some time in the Minors might do him some good. But seeing Urias, say, by June, would give him enough time to make a big splash.
Jesse Winker, Reds
The smooth-swinging outfielder hasn't played above Double-A yet, but he's the kind of advanced hitter who could be ready to make the leap very soon. Winker hit .316/.426/.516 in the second half of the Double-A Southern League season in 2015, showing there might not be that much more for him to prove. There could be an opening in left field ripe for the taking.