The hottest rookies of the past two weeks

July 21st, 2021

Even an All-Star break couldn’t stop some of the best rookies in the game.

Covering the period of July 7-20, the latest Rookie Hot List has a strong mix of big names and pop-up players making the most of their recent experiences at the game’s top level.

Jonathan India (Reds) and Luis Garcia (Astros) solidified their standings in the NL and AL Rookie of the Year races. Former Top 100 prospects Logan Gilbert (Mariners) and Shane McClanahan (Rays) proved that they could have sizable says in second-half playoff races. John Nogowski (Pirates), Tres Barrera (Nationals) and Patrick Wisdom (Cubs) -- each at least 26 years old -- showed older rookies can still stand out against their younger peers.

These are the hottest rookies of the last two weeks:

1. Jonathan India, 2B, Reds (graduated from Top 30)
The 2018 fifth overall pick took his status as an on-base king to a new level in the past two weeks. India had at least one walk in nine of his 10 games, and his 10 total free passes was third-most in the entire Majors over this timeframe. He posted a .531 OBP, also third-best behind only Juan Soto (.604) and AJ Pollock (.541). India was pretty good at swinging the stick too. He went 12-for-35 (.343) with two homers and two doubles, showcasing a little of the power that has been missing from his game in the first three months. India is hitting .276/.406/.425 on the season and sits first among rookies and fourth among all qualifiers in OBP. He definitely gained ground on Trevor Rogers and others in the NL Rookie of the Year race.

2. John Nogowski, 1B, Pirates (ineligible for Top 30)
Nogowski was designated for assignment by the Cardinals on June 28 and moved to the Pirates for cash considerations five days later. He is making a home for himself in his new NL Central spot. The right-handed slugger went 18-for-41 (.439) with a homer and four doubles over his 10 games in this period. His 25 total bases tops all rookies since July 7, and his 1.087 OPS in that frame trails only India’s 1.102 among rookie qualifiers. Nogowski is making a good amount of contact by 2021 standards as well, striking out in only 13.6 percent of his plate appearances. This is likely a flash in the pan -- Nogowski’s .500 BABIP is unsustainable -- but the 28-year-old’s July surge has provided some light in a lowly season in Pittsburgh.

3. Logan Gilbert, RHP, Mariners (graduated from Top 30)
Can a first-round pick and former Top 40 overall prospect go under the radar? It certainly feels that way since Gilbert’s own debut was overshadowed by that of Jarred Kelenic’s at the same time. There is no doubting which rookie has made the bigger impact, both in 2021 as a whole and July more specifically. Gilbert set a new career high with eight strikeouts over seven scoreless innings on July 8 against the Yankees, only to break it on July 18 with nine punchouts over 5 1/3 frames at the Angels. His 17 total K’s were most among rookies over these past two weeks, and his 1.46 ERA and 0.57 WHIP both look great as well. Gilbert lowered his season ERA from 4.10 to 3.50 with this stellar run, and he ranks seventh among rookie pitchers with a 1.4 fWAR despite being the only one in the top seven with fewer than 16 starts. He’s made only 11, underlining how much of an impact he’s made since that May 13 debut.

4. Luis Garcia, RHP, Astros (graduated from Top 30)
Sticking in the AL West, Garcia continues to be one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball, regardless of rookie status. His outing Tuesday against Cleveland was arguably his best of the season as he struck out eight, walked none and scattered three hits over six scoreless innings. Before that, he fanned seven A’s over five innings of one-run ball on July 7 to begin this Hot List timeframe. His 0.82 ERA was better than any rookie starter’s over these past two weeks, and his 0.64 WHIP was just a smidge higher than Gilbert’s. With a 2.86 ERA and 1.06 WHIP on the season as a whole, Garcia has a legitimate claim as the best starting pitcher on an Astros starting staff that also boasts Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers Jr.

5. Shane McClanahan, LHP, Rays (graduated from Top 30)
The Rays have been aggressive with the 24-year-old fireballer since last year when they gave him a Major League debut in the postseason, and he has truly backed up that confidence in him of late. McClanahan fanned 12 and allowed only two earned runs on eight hits and four walks over his last two starts (nine innings) against the Blue Jays on July 9 and Orioles on Tuesday. The two outings each marked the first two times he eclipsed the 90-pitch mark, and that’s notable on a Rays team known for giving quick hooks. McClanahan is known for his fastball and averages 97 mph on the pitch, but he’s throwing his slider almost as often and generating a 45 percent whiff rate on the breaking pitch, compared to 19.7 on the heater. Sitting one game back of the Red Sox in the AL East entering Wednesday, Tampa Bay may need more of this from the rookie southpaw to guide its way back to the playoffs.

6. James Kaprielian, RHP, Athletics (graduated from Top 30)
Back in May, it was just nice to see Kaprielian reach the Majors on a sustained basis following his injury history. Now, it’s becoming a lot more than nice. The 27-year-old right-hander posted a 1.64 ERA with 11 strikeouts over 11 innings during his two starts in this period, first on July 10 against the Rangers and second on Tuesday against the Angels. His already stellar season ERA has dropped from 2.84 to 2.65, 14th-best among Major League starters with at least 50 innings pitched. For context, that’s right between Gerrit Cole (2.63) and Tyler Glasnow (2.66).

7. Tres Barrera, C, Nationals (No. 19)
Barrera was on the fringes of the Washington roster when he was brought up earlier this month following injuries to veterans Yan Gomes and Alex Avila, but he’s doing his part to play his way into a much more prominent role. The 26-year-old backstop has multiple hits in four of his seven games since July 7 and has produced a .381/.435/.714 line with four extra-base hits over 23 plate appearances. His first homer came Sunday off Marlins left-hander Ross Detwiler, leading to the silent treatment from the Nats dugout. Once known primarily for his defense, the 2016 sixth-rounder is showing he can run into a few balls with his bat and could be making for some difficult roster decisions by the time Gomes and Avila are ready to return.

8. Jordan Holloway, RHP, Marlins (graduated from Top 30)
The 24-year-old right-hander has been used in a variety of roles so far in 2021 and seems to be taking most kindly to a bulk role out of the bullpen of late. Holloway struck out 12 and gave up only two hits and two walks over 9 1/3 innings between a pair of relief outings on July 7 and July 16. In fact, he tossed the most frames of any rookie with a 0.00 ERA during this period, and his 12 K’s were fourth-most among rookie pitchers, regardless of role. Oddly, he was optioned back to Triple-A Jacksonville after his July 16 outing, having served as the 27th man in a doubleheader. With these results, the 2014 20th-rounder should move back to the Majors whenever the next slot in Miami opens.

9. Patrick Wisdom, 3B, Cubs (ineligible for Top 30)
Wisdom’s powerful run through the Majors may have cooled some, but it certainly has continued. The right-handed slugger added three homers over nine games, tying him with Rodolfo Castro and Gavin Sheets for most among rookies in the last two weeks. He also went 10-for-34 (.294) in that span and added a stolen bae for good measure. Now, the 29-year-old didn’t walk at all in those nine contests, hurting both his OBP and OPS, but as has been the case so often for him in 2021, his power is what carried the 14 days. His .619 slugging percentage, .941 OPS and 148 wRC+ are all tops among rookies with at least 140 plate appearances this season.

10. Akil Baddoo, OF, Tigers (graduated from Top 30)
The Rule 5 pick continues to prove that he can do more than just stick on the Detroit roster. Baddoo went 10-for-33 (.303) with two homers, a triple and a rookie-best 10 RBIs over eight games in this period. A good chunk of that production came right out of the All-Star break gate as he opened 5-for-13 (.385) with a pair of extra-base hits in those first three games following the time off. The left-handed hitter has a solid .273/.350/.471 line on the season. His 1.5 fWAR is third-best among rookie position players.