As the dawn of a new season beckons in Major League Baseball, everyone wants to know who the next star will be. Who will be this year’s Jose Fernandez or Wil Myers, last season’s Rookies of the Year? Every team in baseball can point to at least one fresh face that can make a big impact on their team’s fortunes in 2013. For the Arizona Diamondbacks, there exists the possibility that three players can emerge to take home Rookie of the Year honors in the National League. If the D’backs make the postseason, you can guarantee that one or all of these gentlemen will have played a huge role.
Chris Owings: For the second consecutive year, the D’backs will have a rookie starting the majority of games at shortstop. Owings beat out incumbent Didi Gregorius during the team’s highest-profile position battle. The 22-year old Owings was called up to Arizona in September and received 61 plate appearances. He was the 2013 Pacific Coast League Most Valuable Player as well as its Rookie of the Year. He hit 12 home runs and drove in 81 runs with a slash line of .330/.359/.482 for the Reno Aces. Although his glove does not carry the same impact as his bat, Owings can more than hold his own at the position. Look for him to bat either seventh or eighth in the batting order.
Archie Bradley: He is listed as the organization’s top prospect and #5 in all of baseball according to mlb.com. The 21-year old Bradley was a contender for the D’backs starting rotation until after the team returned from Australia. Control was a big factor in Bradley getting ready to start the season in Reno instead of Arizona. He walked 10 batters in 12 innings and was hit around a little bit after his first two spectacular outings. With Patrick Corbin sidelined for all of 2014, 37-year old Bronson Arroyo‘s back causing him issues and the ineffectiveness of Trevor Cahill, we could easily see the fire-balling right-hander in the Majors before the month of April is through. When he arrives, his starts will be must-see-TV.
Bo Schultz: He is not even listed in MLB’s Top 20 prospects of the D’backs organization. Yet, the 28-year old Schultz has opened a lot of eyes over the past year. He was also one of the last guys to be sent down in camp but not before throwing a scoreless inning in Australia against the Los Angeles Dodgers. His journey even to get to this point, from undrafted free agent by the Oakland A’s to nearly giving up baseball to reverting back from a side-armer to a conventional thrower, reminds me of Tim Wakefield. Given the tenuous nature of the Arizona pitching staff, Schultz has the versatility to start or relieve and would most likely be the next man up after Bradley. The D’backs used a total of nine starting pitchers in 2013 so the odds are that Schultz will find himself in the rotation at some point.
What other rookie do you feel can make a contribution to the D’backs in 2014? Let me know in the Comments section of this page.