The hottest rookies of the past two weeks

May 12th, 2021

The Rangers have endured four straight losing seasons and may be headed to a fifth, which would be the franchise's worst streak since its inception as the Washington Senators in the 1960s. But after opening 2021 with 14 losses in their first 23 games, Texas has won nine of its last 15.

Three of baseball's hottest rookies over the last two weeks have helped spark that resurgence. Adolis García (outrighted off the 40-man roster in February) has seized the Rangers' center-field job and contributed in all phases of the game, while Hyeon-Jong Yang (signed as a Korean free agent in February) and Brett de Geus (a Rule 5 Draft pick in December) have combined to allow one run between them in their last 14 2/3 innings.

If not for Alex Kirilloff, Texas would have swept the top three spots on our list of the top rookie performers in games from April 28 through May 11:

1. Adolis García, OF, Rangers (not eligible for Top 30)
García had only sporadic success after signing with the Cardinals for $2.5 million in February 2017, and he entered this year 2-for-23 with 11 strikeouts in a couple of brief big league stints. He opened the season at Texas' alternate training site before getting called up April 13 and has been on fire ever since. He has slashed .340/.382/.600 with four homers, 13 RBIs and two steals in the last two weeks -- all the best in baseball among rookies -- and is slashing .292/.333/.585 overall while ranking in the top 10 in the American League in slugging, homers (nine), RBIs (26) and outfield assists (three).

2. Alex Kirilloff, OF, Twins (No. 2/MLB No. 21)
After making his big league debut in the playoffs last October and collecting a hit against the Astros in the Wild Card Series, Kirilloff got called up on for a doubleheader on April 14 and then for good on April 23. The sweet-swinging 2016 first-round pick went on a 7-for-20 tear with four homers and 10 RBI in five games starting April 28 to boost his season line to .214/.227/.571, but then he severely sprained his right wrist and hasn't played since.

3. Hyeon-Jong Yang, LHP, Rangers (not eligible for Top 30)
A long-time star in Korea, Yang was the Korean Baseball Organization regular-season and playoff MVP in 2017, and he won the league's equivalent of the Cy Young Award twice as well as two ERA crowns. Signed to a Minor League contract that will pay him $1.3 million in the big leagues, he got promoted from Texas' alternate training site on April 26. He has logged a 1.17 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings the last two weeks and has a 2.25 overall ERA with 13 whiffs in 12 frames.

4. Brett de Geus, RHP, Rangers (unranked on Top 30)
de Geus' stuff made a big jump after he signed with the Dodgers as a 33rd-rounder out of Cabrillo (Calif.) Junior College in 2017, and it has helped him stick in Texas as a Rule 5 Draft pick. He posted an 8.10 ERA in his first eight appearances before stringing together four consecutive scoreless outings with seven strikeouts in as many innings during the last two weeks.

5. Keegan Thompson, RHP, Cubs (No. 14)
A third-round pick in 2017 who had Tommy John surgery while at Auburn, Thompson has been one of the Cubs' best pitching prospects when healthy but missed most of 2019 with elbow issues. Called up for the first time this May, he has yet to give up a run in three appearances covering 7 2/3 innings.

6. Ryan Mountcastle, OF/1B, Orioles (graduated from Top 30/MLB Top 100)
Mountcastle was a revelation in 35 games with the Orioles last summer, and while he hasn't matched those numbers, he's starting to heat up. The 2015 first-rounder has slashed .306/.314/.469 with a pair of homers in the last two weeks and is now slashing .225/.250/.349 with three homers overall.

7. Pavin Smith, OF/1B, D-backs (graduated from Top 30)
The seventh overall pick in the 2017 Draft, Smith developed more slowly than expected but now is becoming the player the D-backs envisioned, grabbing a spot in the everyday lineup while shuttling between right field, center field and first base. He has slashed .283/.333/.434 over the last 14 days and is slashing .276/.321/.447 overall.

8. Kodi Whitley, RHP, Cardinals (No. 10)
A 27th-round choice in 2017 out of NCAA Division II Mount Olive (N.C.), Whitley has provided stellar bullpen work that has helped the Cardinals post the best record in the National League. Promoted for the second time this season on April 30, he hasn't allowed a run since, permitting just one hit while fanning five in as many innings over six appearances. 

9. Ryan Weathers, LHP, Padres (No. 5/MLB No. 87)
The son of 19-year big leaguer David Weathers, Ryan went seventh overall in the 2018 Draft and made his big league debut in the 2020 playoffs, pitching 1 1/3 scoreless innings and striking out Cody Bellinger. He made the Opening Day roster this spring and has logged a 0.81 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings, including one run in seven innings during three games in the last two weeks.

10. Luis Patiño, RHP, Rays (graduated from Top 30/MLB Top 100)
The key to the Blake Snell trade from the Rays' perspective, Patiño ranked as one of baseball's best pitching prospects before graduating off our Top 100 list. He has pitched like it since getting recalled from the alternate training site on April 25, allowing just two runs while striking out 10 in nine innings during the last two weeks.