These are the 10 hottest rookies in baseball
Welcome to the Rookie Hot List for July. This is MLB.com’s monthly look at the rookies on a roll around the Major Leagues.
A reminder, as always, this is not about who’s having the best season. It’s not about who’s going to win Rookie of the Year. It’s not about who’s the best prospect, though any of those factors can be a tiebreaker if it’s a really tight call.
It’s about who’s hot -- rookie players who have put up the best performances over the past 30 days. There’s something of a bias toward playing time, so a player with twice as many at-bats or innings (or appearances, for a reliever) will get the nod over one with slightly better rate stats.
This month’s honorable mentions include: Diego Castillo, Bobby Witt Jr., Brendan Donovan, Beau Brieske, and once again, Jose Miranda. They all had cases for the top 10. This is art more than science.
Here’s the list:
1. Julio Rodríguez, OF, Mariners
He just keeps doing it. Never mind Rookie of the Year, Rodríguez is playing his way onto the fringes of the American League MVP race. He’s at .300/.355/.610 over the past 30 days, with seven homers and four steals in five tries over that span. He continues to hit for power, continues to cut his strikeout rate ... and continues to become one of the best players in the game.
2. Spencer Strider, RHP, Braves
Whether we’re talking performance or Q rating, the only other name as hot as Rodríguez is Strider. He ranks 10th in the National League in strikeouts despite only having made eight starts on the year. And over the past month, he sports a 2.96 ERA with 45 Ks against six walks in 27 1/3 innings. There have been several key factors in the Braves’ surge, but Strider’s emergence is up there with any of them.
3. Michael Harris II, OF, Braves
And so is Harris’. His defensive skills were well-known, but Harris’ hitting ability has been a revelation – especially his power. Harris has seven homers in 153 big league at-bats, after hitting 14 in more than 800 ABs in the Minors. Over the past month, he has a .293/.327/.556 line with seven homers, 18 RBIs, and five steals in five attempts.
4. Adley Rutschman, C, Orioles
You may notice a trend here. All of the guys at the top of this list play for teams that are climbing the standings. That’s not a coincidence. Rutschman has been key in the Orioles’ recent emergence. He has a .256/.348/.526 line over the past month, and maybe most impressively, has 11 walks against 11 strikeouts. He’s also, you know, a very good defensive catcher.
5. Shane Baz, RHP, Rays
Baz is coming off a rough start in Cincinnati, or otherwise he might be even higher on the list. Still, he has 28 Ks and just six walks over his last five starts, with a 3.65 ERA in that time even after the blowup against the Reds. He had not allowed more than one run in any of his previous four starts.
6. Félix Bautista, RHP, Orioles
Bautista has pitched his way into higher leverage situations with the O’s and keeps getting the job done. He’s been reached for an earned run in one of his last 23 appearances. Over the past month, he has 20 Ks in 11 innings over 13 games, and opponents are hitting .135 against him.
7. George Kirby, RHP, Mariners
Kirby probably won’t be on this list next month, thanks to some load management, but in its own way that tells you something. He’s pitched enough, and well enough, to need that load management. Like Baz, he does have one rough start mixed in recently. But also like Baz, he has a lot more good than bad. Kirby has 27 strikeouts and five walks over the past month, and hasn’t walked more than one batter in a start all year.
8. Max Castillo, RHP, Blue Jays (unranked)
Castillo wasn't really on anybody's radar after posting pedestrian stats at Double-A last year. That has changed. A brilliant run at Triple-A in May and June earned him a promotion, and five dominant relief appearances earned him a start. Now he’s a key cog for a contending team, and it will be intriguing to see how he gets used going forward.
9. Yerry De Los Santos, RHP, Pirates (unranked)
Don’t look now, but the Pirates are … not good yet, but a little frisky for sure. And De Los Santos is part of that, with a strong run at the back of the bullpen. De Los Santos has saves in three of his last four appearances and a 12/3 K/BB ratio in 10 1/3 innings over the past month.
10. Christopher Morel, OF, Cubs
Morel has cooled off a bit after his torrid start, but he’s still been a productive surprise for the Cubs. He’s at .255/.306/.480 over the past month with six homers, 15 RBIs and 17 runs scored. His surging strikeout rate is alarming, but he’s still contributing at a nice clip.