Both the Orioles and Tigers are currently in rebuild mode, having received the No. 1 overall pick in the last two Drafts. Both Major League clubs are struggling this year, but there are signs of life in terms of rookies making very positive contributions at the highest level.
That’s reflected in this week’s Rookie Hot List for games played May 26-June 8. Both teams have a pair of representatives in this edition. One, Eric Haase, joins the leader, Patrick Wisdom of the Cubs, to prove that not all rookies have to be super-young.
1. Patrick Wisdom, 3B, Cubs (not eligible for Top 30)
It hasn’t exactly been a straight path for Wisdom, who was ranked as the No. 10 prospect in the Cardinals' organization back in 2014 but didn’t make his big league debut until 2018, and he has now touched the highest level with three organizations. He may have found a home in Chicago and posted a .385/.442/1.051 slash line with eight homers and 12 RBIs over the past two weeks. He topped all rookies with 41 total bases and a 1.493 OPS.
2. Pavin Smith, 1B/OF, D-backs (graduated from Top 30)
While Smith had a 15-game hitting streak snapped during this stretch, he still hit in 11 of the 13 games he played in, putting up a gaudy .442/.510/.651 line, striking out just five times and walking six in 49 plate appearances. The former first-round pick is now hitting .292/.345/.449 and trails only Adolis Garcia among all rookies with 97 total bases.
3. Ryan Mountcastle, 1B/OF, Orioles (graduated from Top 30)
Thought by many to be a strong AL Rookie of the Year candidate, Mountcastle began the year very slowly, with a .515 OPS in April. The past two weeks have certainly helped him dig out of that hole, as he hit .371/.389/.857 with four homers and 11 RBIs. That brings him up to a more respectable .252/.280/.441 line and an up arrow next to his name. He’s tied for third among all rookies with 89 total bases and is tied for second in both home runs (8) and RBIs (31).
4. Luis García, RHP, Astros (graduated from Top 30)
Not only did García win all three of his starts over the past two weeks, he was absolutely dominant, allowing just 11 hits (.164 batting average against) and four walks (0.79 WHIP) while striking out 21 in 19 innings. He went at least six innings in all three outings, lowering his season ERA to 2.75, which would put him fifth in the AL if he had enough innings to qualify. He has a .189 BAA for the year and a 10.37 K/9 rate.
5. Eric Haase, C, Tigers (not eligible for Top 30)
Only Wisdom, with his eight homers, hit more balls out than the Tigers catcher did during this period. Haase went deep six times in 34 at-bats for a .294/.385/.912 line. The hometown hero is now hitting in the middle of the Tigers’ lineup and has eight homers and a 1.014 OPS over 72 at-bats for the season.
6. Jonathan India, 2B Reds (graduated from Top 30)
It took India a little while to get going this year, but he’s really starting to swing the bat like he did this spring when he earned a spot on the Opening Day roster. The former No. 5 overall pick hit .387/.525/.645 in 41 plate appearances over the past two weeks with a pair of homers and as many walks as strikeouts. He’s been particularly hot since the calendar flipped to June, with a .444/.583/.889 line in six games this month.
7. Tarik Skubal, LHP, Tigers (graduated from Top 30)
After really struggling in April (6.14 ERA), the big left-hander has slowly found his groove, finishing May with a 3.33 ERA and turning in a good first start in June. He made two starts over the past two weeks, one in each month, winning both while striking out 19 and allowing just seven hits and one run in 11 innings. He still needs to watch the walks (six in two starts and a 4.33 BB/9 rate for the year), but he’s missing a ton of bats (11.33/9) and has lowered his season ERA to 4.33.
8. Bruce Zimmerman, LHP, Orioles (graduated from Top 30)
Acquired from the Braves in the 2018 Trade Deadline deal for Kevin Gausman, Zimmerman touched the big leagues for the first time last year and has been a mainstay in the rotation thus far in 2021. He’s had mixed results, but turned in three solid starts during this time period. He won two of them, with a 2.93 ERA in 15 1/3 IP. He trailed only García among rookie pitchers with 20 strikeouts to bring his season K/9 rate up to 8.33.
9. Trevor Larnach, OF, Twins (No. 3 on Top 30)
While Larnach played in just 10 games during his period, he largely made the most of them, posting a .370/.514/.556 line with a pair of doubles and and a home run in 27 at-bats. He was hitting .200/.322/.380 at the start of the period and he's now up to .260/.394/.442 for the year after hitting in eight of the 10 games he played.
10. Nick Madrigal, 2B, White Sox
It’s news any time Madrigal goes yard, and he did that for the second time this season (and in his career) on June 4. But that’s not the only reason he made the list. The second baseman hit .356/.408/.511 over the past two weeks, doubled twice and tripled to give him a share of the American League lead with four. He’s now hitting .305/.349/.421 for the year, placing him sixth in the AL batting race.