by Marc Hulet – April 10, 2014
Welcome to the regularly updated Top 50 Impact Rookies for 2014. This ranking tool grades freshman players based on their projected MLB impacts for 2014 so it will vary significantly from typical Top 50 or 100 prospects lists.
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April 10: With Boston’s decision not to resign veteran shortstop Stephen Drew, Bogaerts was handed the starting shortstop gig in Boston at the age of 21. The regular playing time — as well as his advanced feeling for hitting — makes him an early favorite for the Rookie of the Year award in the American League (along with the Yankee’s Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka).
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April 10: The Tigers’ veteran-laden lineup allows the organization to ease the young Castellanos into his first full big league season. There aren’t many questions surrounding his bat (other than perhaps the power tool) but his defense at the hot corner remains a concern — especially considering he spent more than a year playing in the outfield.
April 10: Abreu, a Cuba native, entered the 2014 season with a lot of question marks given his lack of track record in North America. A solid spring and respectable start to the MLB season has helped to alleviate some of those concerns.
April 10: Walker has a chance to be a key contributor to the Mariners’ 2014 season but he has to first shake the shoulder woes that have plagued him early in the year.
April 10: A lot of young pitchers have been bitten by the injury bug early on in 2014 but Bradley has so far been able to avoid the curse. Just 21 years old and pitching in Triple-A, the Oklahoma native could be in the Diamondbacks big league rotation before the all-star break.
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April 10: The organization has some interesting catching depth in terms of second- and third-string catchers but there are no true threats to d’ Arnaud’s starting backstop gig. Now, all he has to do is stay healthy — which has been easier said than done during his minor league career.
April 10: Taveras continues to be haunted by the fallout over an ankle injury that he suffered in 2013. The young outfielder will continue to polish his game at the Triple-A level while waiting for an injury (or another move) to open up an opportunity for him in The Show. The majority of St. Louis’ power comes from the right side of the plate so Taveras should be a welcomed addition.
April 10: Baltimore’s addition of veteran free agent starter Ubaldo Jimenez ensured that Gausman would open the 2014 season in the minors where he serves as excellent injury insurance. It should only be a matter of time before the young hurler is sitting atop the Orioles’ starting rotation.
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April 10: Bradley was already optioned to Triple-A when an injury sent veteran outfielder Shane Victorino to the disabled list, and created a 25-man roster spot for the freshman on opening day. He’ll have to continue swinging an incredibly hot bat to avoid being demoted when the Flyin’ Hawaiian returns from the infirmary.
April 10: The 2012 R.A. Dickey trade continues to look worse for the Blue Jays with each passing day thanks to the continued emergence of Syndergaard. The 38th overall selection from the 2010 amateur draft — who won’t turn 22 until August — opened the 2014 season in Triple-A and should reach the Majors no later than the second half of the year.