Here are baseball's hottest rookies

September 21st, 2020

While Angels, Nationals and Red Sox fans haven't had much to enjoy in 2020, they could relish some exciting rookie performances in the final week of the regular season.

Defending World Series champion Washington may have the third-worst record in the National League, but the youngest player in the Majors (Luis García) batted .500 last week and delivered a 427-foot extra-inning home run. Though Los Angeles is posting its worst winning percentage since 1994, Jared Walsh became the first rookie to both score and drive in a run in nine consecutive games, the fifth-longest streak ever. Boston has gone from a championship in 2018 to the third-worst record in baseball two years later, but Tanner Houck didn't permit an earned run in 11 innings over his first two big league starts.

García, Walsh and Houck were the hottest rookie performers in games from Sept. 14-20, and there were plenty of other standouts:

1. Luis García, 2B, Nationals (No. 1/MLB No. 97)
At 20 years and four months, García is the youngest big leaguer by more than a year. He didn't look like it last week, when he topped rookies in all three slash categories (.500/.500/.750) to improve his season line to .318/.336/.430. Though he made the jump from Double-A to the Majors without the benefit of any Minor League at-bats this season, his .766 OPS is the highest of his four-year pro career.

2. Jared Walsh, 1B, Angels (graduated from Top 30)
Signed for $3,000 as a 39th-rounder out of Georgia in 2015, Walsh broke out with 29 homers in 2018 and slammed 36 more in Triple-A last season. His power plays in the big leagues too, as evidenced by his .315/.338/.685 line with seven homers in 26 games.

3. Tanner Houck, RHP, Red Sox (No. 10)
A 2017 first-round choice, Houck allowed an unearned run in five innings against the Marlins on Tuesday and allowed only an unearned run against the Yankees for six frames on Sunday, becoming the eighth pitcher to work five or more innings while permitting two or fewer hits in each of his first two starts. The third Red Sox rookie to last five or more innings without allowing an earned run in each of his first two starts, he gave up three hits and six walks while striking out 11 in as many innings.

4. Kyle Wright, RHP, Braves (graduated from Top 30)
The fifth overall pick in the 2017 Draft, Wright had struggled as a starter in the Majors, going 1-7 with an 8.21 ERA in his first 10 tries for Atlanta. The Braves hope he turned a corner on Sunday, when he surrendered just one hit and one walk in 6 1/3 scoreless innings against the Mets.

5. Brady Singer, RHP, Royals (graduated from Top 30)
After taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Indians on Sept. 10, Singer came back on Wednesday and shut out the Tigers over six frames while striking out eight. A 2018 first-round selection, he sports a 3-4 record with a 4.14 ERA and 52 whiffs in 54 1/3 innings.

6. Josh Fuentes, 1B, Rockies (No. 18)
Fuentes had three more multihit games last week, giving him six in 16 starts since supplanting Daniel Murphy as Colorado's starting first baseman in late August. The first big leaguer ever from Missouri Baptist, he signed with the Rockies as a nondrafted free agent in 2014 after his cousin Nolan Arenado recommended him to scouting director Bill Schmidt. Fuentes is batting .348/.357/.515 in 22 games.

7. Jose Urquidy, RHP, Astros (graduated from Top 30)
A World Series hero last October, Urquidy missed the first six weeks of this season after testing positive for COVID-19. He has returned with three quality starts in four outings, including two last week as he allowed just three runs in 13 innings against the Rangers and D-backs to improve his record to 1-1 with a 2.78 ERA and .190 opponent average in 22 2/3 frames.

8. Tony Gonsolin, RHP, Dodgers (graduated from Top 30)
A $2,500 senior sign out of St. Mary's as a ninth-rounder in 2016, Gonsolin has the lowest ERA (1.77) in a Los Angeles rotation otherwise filled with pitchers who were ballyhooed prospects. He yielded just one run in seven innings to beat the Padres on Tuesday and struck out a career-high 10 in five frames during a tough loss to the Rockies on Sunday.

9. Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pirates (No. 2/MLB No. 38)
The son of 14-year big leaguer Charlie Hayes and a 2015 first-rounder, Ke'Bryan has lived up to his reputation as a potential Gold Glover while showing more power than he did in the Minors. He drilled five extra-base hits in eight games last week to boost his season line to .310/.385/.603 with three homers in 17 contests.

10. Willi Castro, SS, Tigers (graduated from Top 30)
Castro has produced the best OPS (.896) in Detroit's lineup, thanks in part to a .304/.346/.609 week that included homers off Matt Harvey and Shane Bieber. Acquired in a July 2018 trade that sent Kyle Dowdy and Leonys Martin to the Indians, he's hitting .330/.364/.532 overall with five homers in 31 games.