The 2016 Rookie of the Year Award winners were announced on Monday night. One recipient, Corey Seager, was a National League favorite coming into the year, and was a unanimous pick at the end of the season. The other, Michael Fulmer, wasn't even on the American League ROY Award radar
The 2016 Rookie of the Year Award winners were announced on Monday night. One recipient, Corey Seager, was a National League favorite coming into the year, and was a unanimous pick at the end of the season. The other, Michael Fulmer, wasn't even on the American League ROY Award radar at the start of the season, but he ended up with 26 of 30 first-place votes.
A year ago, we took an early look at potential 2016 Rookie of the Year Award candidates. Of the list of 10, three -- all in the NL -- received ROY votes at season's end. Seager and Trea Turner, who finished second in voting, were on the NL list, as was Mets lefty Steven Matz, who received a third-place vote.
Trying to improve on that success rate this time around, here's an early look at some 2017 ROY Award candidates in each league, all of whom are on the MLBPipeline.com Top 100 Prospects list.
Andrew Benintendi, OF, Red Sox's No. 2 prospect
A knee injury in August is likely the only reason the 2015 first-rounder is on this list, as he would've surpassed rookie status for sure. He needed just 570 Minor League at-bats to get to the big leagues, then posted an .845 OPS in 105 big league ABs.
Carson Fulmer, RHP, White Sox's top prospect
Taken one pick after Benintendi in the 2015 Draft, Fulmer's big league debut -- as a reliever -- didn't exactly leave a good taste in anyone's mouth. But the Vandy star pitched better in the second half as he returned to his college delivery. Lumps taken in 2016 should help him adjust in '17.
Aaron Judge, OF, Yankees' No. 4 prospect
Judge struggled when he got to Triple-A for the first time in 2015, but then he adjusted and performed well at that level in '16. Look for the big right fielder to follow the same pattern, cut down on his strikeout rate and be a much more complete presence in the Yankees' lineup from Opening Day on.
Yoán Moncada, 3B, Red Sox's top prospect
There isn't a guaranteed spot for Moncada in the Red Sox's Opening Day lineup -- Pablo Sandoval, anyone? -- but Moncada's tools are just too loud to be ignored. An injury cut short his time in the Arizona Fall League to work at the hot corner, but he'll be just fine in the spring. Boston will have to get his bat into the lineup somehow.
Bradley Zimmer, OF, Indians' top prospect
The lone player on the AL list to have not played a game in the big leagues, Zimmer scuffled a bit at the end of the season in Triple-A. He's shown speed, some power, on-base (albeit with some swing and miss) and good center-field skills in the Arizona Fall League, which he can use as a springboard into Cleveland's outfield somewhere next season.
Ozzie Albies, 2B, Braves' No. 2 prospect
Albies would've gotten some fine-tuning in the AFL if he hadn't fractured his right elbow late in the season. He's expected to be fine, and while he'll be just 20 for all of 2017, he should settle in as Dansby Swanson's double-play mate in Atlanta for a long time to come.
Lucas Giolito, RHP, Nationals' top prospect
The big right-hander didn't exactly take the NL by storm when he first got called up, but let's chalk that up to small sample size. There's nothing left for him to prove in the Minors, with 9.7 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 ratios. All he needs is a prolonged shot in the Nats' rotation and he'll run with it.
Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pirates' top prospect
Like with Giolito, Glasnow's transition to the big leagues didn't go smoothly, with his old adversary -- command -- really causing him issues. But the big right-hander had a couple of solid relief outings and finished off with a very solid start to send him into the offseason on a high note. It's simple: If he trusts his stuff and throws more strikes, he'll dominate.
Alex Reyes, RHP, Cards' top prospect
Reyes is the one pitcher on this list who pitched up to, or even perhaps surpassed, expectations. Just four innings short of the rookie cutoff, Reyes was unhittable in relief, then stepped up and threw well in some key September starts. He's in the same boat as Glasnow in terms of command refinement equaling front-line starter success.
Dansby Swanson, SS, Braves' top prospect
It may have seemed a bit premature when Swanson, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 Draft whom the D-backs traded to Atlanta for Shelby Miller, but he finished with a .302/.361/.442 line in 38 games. He accrued 129 ABs in that time, leaving him just shy of the cutoff, and perhaps making him a front-runner for the Rookie of the Year Award next season.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.