Who will win Rookie of the Year ... next season?

September 19th, 2019

With Pete Alonso and Yordan Alvarez deserving of Rookie of the Year awards after historic performances, who are the top candidates to grab that hardware next season?

I'm going with the easy and obvious answers: Dodgers middle infielder Gavin Lux and White Sox outfielder Luis Robert, the Nos. 2 and 3 prospects on our recently tweaked Top 100 Prospects list. Lux already is making an impact in Los Angeles and looks like he'll make the postseason roster, while Robert would be crushing baseballs in Chicago if not for service-time considerations.

My backup candidates in each league are Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker, who joined Robert as the Minors' first 30-30 player since 2014, and Nationals infielder Carter Kieboom, who homered in two of his first three big league games in late April. As for rookie pitchers, I give Blue Jays right-hander Nate Pearson a narrow edge over Tigers righty Casey Mize in the American League and Padres left-hander MacKenzie Gore in the National League.

For more on this subject, check out the video at the top of this Inbox.

With outfielders Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez -- the Mariners' top two prospects -- having breakout seasons, which of them has the higher ceiling and which is more likely to reach it?

-- J.P. S., Springfield, Ill.

Kelenic and Rodriguez aren't just Seattle's two best prospects, they're also two of the most advanced young hitters in the Minors. I'm looking forward to watching them in the Arizona Fall League.

They were both highly touted as amateurs, with Rodriguez signing with the Mariners for $1.75 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2017 and Kelenic landing a $4.5 million bonus from the Mets as the No. 6 overall pick in the 2018 Draft. They both impressed in their full-season debuts this year, as Kelenic hit .291/.364/.540 with 23 homers and 20 steals while reaching Double-A shortly after turning 20 and Rodriguez batted .326/.390/.540 with 12 homers in 84 games and advanced to Class A Advanced at age 18.

Rodriguez has a loftier ceiling because he has more raw power and could develop into a 35-40 home run threat if he reaches his full potential. That said, Kelenic has a better chance of realizing his upside because he's a better pure hitter with better all-around tools. He has a chance to stick in center field while hitting .300 with 25-30 homers, while Rodriguez projects more as a right fielder who could bat .275 with superior pop.

Paredes, who was on our Top 100 earlier this season, did receive serious consideration. He batted .282/.368/.416 with 13 homers as a 20-year-old in Double-A this year and projects as a solid hitter with average power. He raised his OPS each month during the 2019 season, though he still needs to figure out his future defensive home, which is most likely going to be third or second base.

Besides Paredes, other prospects who weren't far off included Mets catcher Francisco Alvarez, Giants left-hander Seth Corry, Blue Jays right-hander Alek Manoah, Cubs lefty Brailyn Marquez, Angels outfielder Brandon Marsh, Nationals righty Jackson Rutledge and Diamondbacks catcher Daulton Varsho.