Not every rookie will leave his mark on baseball like Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger did a year ago, but each club has a prospect or prospects who should crack its big league roster in 2018. Below are MLB Pipeline's choices for the rookies who will make the biggest impact
Not every rookie will leave his mark on baseball like Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger did a year ago, but each club has a prospect or prospects who should crack its big league roster in 2018. Below are MLB Pipeline's choices for the rookies who will make the biggest impact on each team in the American League East.
• Impact prospects: NL East | NL Central | NL West | AL East | AL Central | AL West
Baltimore: Austin Hays, OF (No. 1 on O's Top 30; No. 23 on Top 100)
Opening Day 2018: Triple-A Norfolk
Hays became the first hitter from the 2016 Draft class to reach the Major Leagues last September after he tore through two Minor League levels while hitting .329 with 32 home runs. Though he won't begin 2018 with the Orioles, Hays should hit for both average and power when he returns to Baltimore this season and stands to receive regular playing time with his ability to play all three outfield positions.
Boston: Sam Travis, 1B (No. 5 on Red Sox's Top 30)
Opening Day 2018: Triple-A Pawtucket
Boston may not have an open spot in its lineup for Travis, but he is the best pure hitter in its farm system and has challenged for the big league lead in Spring Training home runs. Kyle Schwarber's tag-team partner on Indiana's 2013 College World Series club and a second-round pick a year later, he has always hit for average and controlled the strike zone, though he hasn't consistently tapped into his raw power during games before this spring. Though he's blocked for now at first base, the good news for Travis is that neither Hanley Ramirez nor Mitch Moreland is a long-term solution there.
New York: Gleyber Torres, INF (No. 1 on Yankees' Top 30; No. 5 on Top 100)
Opening Day 2018: Triple-A Scranton/W-B
The jewel of the Albertin Chapman trade with the Cubs two summers ago, Torres might already be an established big leaguer if he hadn't injured his non-throwing elbow and required Tommy John surgery last June. He appeared on the verge of taking over at third base for New York when he got hurt, and he has the tools to be a star at shortstop (his primary position thus far), third or second. One of the best hitting prospects in baseball, he'll eventually challenge for batting titles and has 20-homer pop to go with solid defensive tools to play all over the infield.
Tampa Bay: Christian Arroyo, 3B/SS (No. 6 on Rays Top 30; No. 81 on Top 100)
Opening Day 2018: Triple-A Durham
Acquired from the Giants in the offseason Evan Longoria deal, Arroyo, who appeared in parts of 34 games with the Giants in 2017, could slot into any number of spots on the Rays' infield this season. That versatility should create opportunities for the 2013 first-rounder make an impact with the bat, as Arroyo is an advanced right-handed hitter with a career .300/.345/.434 batting line in five Minor League seasons.
Toronto: Anthony Alford, OF (No. 3 on Blue Jays' Top 30; No. 47 on Top 100)
Opening Day 2018: Disabled list
Alford was poised to carve out a role in Toronto's outfield last May before landing on the disabled list with a broken hamate bone. He performed well in Triple-A after returning fully healthy and impressed this spring before a recent hamstring injury clouded his chances of breaking camp with the Blue Jays. After a brief stint in Triple-A, Alford, with his athleticism, loud tools and advanced skill sets, should make his mark in earnest at the highest level.