Here are the favorites to win AL Rookie of the Year. The AL is difficult to predict because many prospects are competing for the award.
1. Neftali Feliz (P, Rangers)—Feliz is the best prospect in the Rangers’ farm system. He features a triple-digit fastball and has been dominating over the past three seasons. Feliz’s performance in the bullpen turned heads last September, but look for him to begin 2010 in the rotation. Despite stiff competition, Feliz is the top candidate for Rookie of the Year.
2. Brian Matusz (P, Orioles)— Matusz is a highly-touted pitcher known for his command. Like Feliz, Matusz debuted impressively last season. He is a strong Rookie of the Year candidate since he will open the season in the rotation, but teammates Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman could also compete for the honor.
3. Austin Jackson (CF, Tigers)—Detroit acquired Jackson in the Curtis Granderson trade intending to make him their Centerfielder. Jackson is a legitimate “five tool” prospect bearing many similarities to Granderson. Look for him to play a key role in Detroit’s rebuilding efforts, and receive the opportunity to make a strong case for Rookie of the Year.
4. Scott Sizemore (2B, Detroit)—an underrated prospect, Sizemore is great “sleeper pick” to win Rookie of the Year because he is one of the few rookies heading into 2010 with a starting position guaranteed. Sizemore’s minor league numbers last season were good (18 HR’s, .300 BA), so look for him to have a solid rookie season.
5 (tie). Desmond Jennings (OF, Tampa)—Jennings’ candidacy depends on opportunity. He is not projected as an opening day starter, but beyond Crawford and Upton, who is Tampa’s third outfielder? Jennings might win the job over Gabe Kapler and Matt Joyce, and if he does, he becomes a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year. But Tampa rarely opens top prospects in the majors, so it’s more likely he will arrive in June.
5 (tie). Brett Wallace (3B, Blue Jays)—Wallace is an awesome hitter held back by defensive concerns. He will receive the opportunity to win the 3B position and could post excellent numbers assuming he plays defense well enough to stay in the lineup.
Others to watch: Chris Tillman (P, Baltimore), Jake Arrieta (P, Baltimore), Junichi Tazawa (P, Red Sox), Wade Davis (P, Rays), Jeremy Hellickson (P, Tampa Bay), Josh Reddick (OF, Red Sox), Michael Brantley (OF, Indians), Lou Marson (C, Indians), Kila Kia’hue (1B, Royals)
Candidates if called up before 6/1: Justin Smoak (1B, Rangers), Jesus Montero (C, Yankees), Chris Carter (1B, Oakland), Michael Taylor (OF, Oakland), Carlos Santana (C, Cleveland), Dustin Ackley (OF, Seattle).
Does not qualify: Julio Borbon (OF, Texas)