Corey Seager‘s combined talent and poise make him the standout in this year’s Rookie of the Year contest. Seager, still a few weeks away from his 22nd birthday, became the youngest Dodgers’ opening day starting shortstop in 72 years. Amidst all the hype surrounding MLB’s No. 1 prospect and the opening day hullaballoo, Seager’s booming RBI double to left field off San Diego’s Tyson Ross in the first inning of the season opener launched what could be a historic rookie season for the Dodger shortstop.
Seager continued his rookie campaign with three hits during the second consecutive Dodger shutout victory on Tuesday vs. San Diego.
In Andy McCullogh’s article for the Los Angeles Times, he described Seager’s calm and steady demeanor.
“He operates with a low pulse and a high aptitude. Scouts discuss his swing with reverence; teammates opt for envy. The veterans on the Dodgers see in him a preternatural calm. He performs at his own pace, and “he looks the part,” said his older brother, Kyle, an All-Star third baseman for Seattle.
“If you’re going to come up when you’re like 20 years old, you can’t really rattle,” Clayton Kershaw said. “And his talent speaks for itself. It’s just impressive to see. When I was 20, I wasn’t like that.”
He has been impressive.
After hitting .337/.425/.561 in his first 113 plate appearances last fall, Seager quickly usurped veteran Jimmy Rollins of his starting shortstop job. Limited to 20 major league at-bats during spring training due to a knee injury, he hit .350 with two doubles. Even though his numbers are of a small sample size at the major league, he should be offensively well-rounded and hit for average and power.
Seager is the best homegrown position player prospect the Dodgers have had since Matt Kemp. Whilst Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig are still honing their game, Seager seems to encapsulate the perfect combination of talent and self-possession with his sweet swing and smooth defense at shortstop.
While I was prematurely fantasizing about Seager receiving the 2016 Rookie of the Year Award, a Rockies’ fan politely reminded me that he is not the only notable rookie in the National League.
@organicallyrude You can’t spell Story without R, O, and Y either. ;)
— Andrew Dill (@PurpleRocktober) April 6, 2016
Trevor Story, the 23-year old who had a strong spring training for Colorado, won the starting shortstop job after Jose Reyes was placed on paid leave while facing domestic violence charges. Story stunned former Dodger pitcher Zack Greinke on opening day by hitting two home runs off him. He made history by becoming the first player since 1900 whose first four career hits were home runs. After ambushing Greinke, Story took a Shelby Miller changeup for a ride in the second game of the season for the Rockies, and he hit his fourth home run off Patrick Corbin on Wednesday.
Not only has Story hit a historic number of home runs to start the season, but the exit velocities and launch angles were significant. Mike analyzed the data provided by Statcast for MLB.com:
“It’s not like Story’s dingers have been well-placed wall-squeakers, either. Look at the exit velocities and launch angles of the four shots:
1) Greinke — 102.5 mph, 28 degrees
2) Greinke — 106 mph, 29 degrees
3) Miller — 107 mph, 30 degrees
4) Corbin — 108.8 mph, 24 degrees”
Story’s emergence is helping Colorado fans forget about now Blue Jay Troy Tulowitzki. Seager is the prized prospect whose laid back personality may give him the edge in the ROY race over the course of the long season. However, there are even more standout rookies in the league who we should keep our eye on.
Steven Matz, 24, the rookie left-hander, has an impressive repertoire of pitches including his 95 MPH fastball. Matz pitched commendably against Kershaw in Game 4 of the NLDS last year, and he was integral in New York’s NL East division title after returning from a partially torn muscle in his upper back. The former second-round pick in the 2009 draft went 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA in six starts in the majors last year.
Trea Turner, 22, was acquired by the Nationals in a three-team deal with the Padres and Rays in December 2014. The speedy Turner will begin the season in the minor leagues to further develop and work on his defense. Turner stole 29 bases last year in his time between Double-A and Triple-A.
Orlando Arcia, 21, is Milwaukee’s top minor league prospect and is expected to begin the season at Triple-A Colorado Springs. After the Brewers traded Jean Segura to Arizona this offseason, they may give Arcia the shortstop job to at some point this year. The sharp fielder also hit .307/.347/.453 with eight homers, 69 RBIs and 25 stolen bases with Double-A Biloxi last season.
J.P. Crawford, 21, the Long Beach native, was the first-round draft pick for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2013. He hit .288/.380/.414 in 107 games last year with Single-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading. The rebuilding Phillies see Crawford as a long-term fixture in their infield, but he probably will not be promoted to the majors until later in the season.
Seager may be the favorite to capture the Rookie of the Year Award in 2016, but there is plenty of exciting young talent in the National League to follow. Seager has that it factor, and his mix of confidence and humility is what sets him apart from most young players beginning their careers. Hopefully his knee soreness is not an issue which will pop up again this season, because the young man from North Carolina has all the tools to embark on a historic rookie campaign.