2007 has the potential to have an incredible crop of rookies. With three power hitting third baseman, two Japanese imports, and a man that has potential to have one of the best rookie years ever, this year’s group is in line to be something special. I will bring you a two part series ranking who I think are the top 10 rookies that will make the biggest impacts for their respective teams and will have the best chance to take home the 2007 Rookie of the Year Award. We’re starting at number ten and moving towards number one. So here’s part one:
10. Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Red Sox: Considering Pedroia’s only competition for the starting second base job is Alex Cora, he will most likely be out there on opening day. While the 23 year old isn’t going to wow you with any power or speed, he is a contact hitter who will most likely hit in the number 8 or 9 spot in the order. There’s a chance that he could have an on-base percentage in the mid to upper .300’s which would be a vast improvement over Cora.
9. Ryan Braun, 3B, Brewers: Unfortunatley for Braun, he probably won’t be on the opening day roster. This probably won’t last too long as the only man standing in his way is the often injured Corey Koskie. Since Koskie hasn’t been able to stay healthy and play in more than 140 games since 2001 (including 173 total over the past two seasons), the likelyhood that Braun will get to see some action this season is very probable. If Braun does play and puts up the power numbers he’s capable of, look for him to take over third base permanently.
8. Homer Bailey, SP, Reds: With an over abundance of potential starters this year for the Reds, it is likely that Bush will start the year in AAA. However this may change very quickly if a.) other starters are ineffective, b.) they fall out of the race quickly, or c.) Bronson Arroyo is traded once they fall out of contention (and given the fact that he doesn’t want to be in Cincinnati). The young righthander should be ready for a mid-season call up regardless as I’m sure one of those three scenarios will end up happening. He will be a nice breath of fresh air for the Reds and will probably end up with 6-7 wins depending on how many starts he gets.
7. Kei Igawa, SP, Yankees: Overshadowed as the “other” Japanese import this season, Igawa looks to try to crack the Yankees starting rotation. I think he has a great chance to slip in as the number five starter, but will probably end up being the odd man out if the Yankees end up landing the legendary Roger Clemens this summer. If he is able to stay in the rotation all season, he will probably win 12-14 games with an ERA around 4.50.
6. Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B, Padres: This power hitting third baseman is constantly over looked and underrated when there are discussions about the new rookie crop. Kouzmanoff was second among all Minor League players with a .379 batting average last season and made history when in his very first Major League at bat hit a grand slam. The Padres acquired him in a trade last November for the talented second baseman Josh Barfield. While the Indians gained a solid player in Barfield, the Padres potentially got the better end of the deal as Kouzmanoff should be the opening day third baseman for San Diego and could put up a .300 average and knock out 25 home runs.
Tomorrow in part II we will address the top 5 rookies in 2007.