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#pounditTuesday, June 25, 2024

10 best young players in baseball

Aaron Judge

The 2017 MLB regular season is nearly two months old and perhaps more than anything else, it’s clear the new crop of talent is among the best we’ve seen in years, if not decades. Young stars line rosters, rookies are the center of attention, and that has created a universal excitement around the league.

Major League Baseball was in need of an influx of new talent for the future, and they’ve certainly got it. The youth movement has become the story of baseball thanks to many emerging stars.

Here’s a look at 10 of the best young players in baseball.

10. Manuel Margot, 22, OF, San Diego Padres

This spot could have just as easily gone to Hunter Renfroe, Jharel Cotton, Robert Gsellman or Josh Bell, but we’re going with Manuel Margot for a number of reasons.

Capable of playing all outfield positions, Margot has primarily been used in center field due to his ability to patrol large amounts of space. In Triple-A a season ago, the 22-year-old Margot recorded 311 putouts and 18 assists, which were each second to none. Needless to say, his ability to cover ground at Petco Park is unparalleled.

But that’s not all Margot has in his bag of tricks. He’s a solid hitter for average and is capable of swiping some bases if need be. He’s batting .264 on the season but has plenty of extra-base hits, including six doubles, three triples and four home runs. Margot has shown he has some pop in his bat, which will undoubtedly improve as he gets stronger and more accustomed to quality pitching.

And while he’ll need to refine his decision-making at the major league level, the base stealing ability will become a more substantial asset over time (he’s 5-for-10 on attempts this season).

9. Trey Mancini, 25, DH, Baltimore Orioles

Trey Mancini may not have been discussed among the most exciting rookies in baseball entering the season, but if that conversation were held right now, his name would come up repeatedly and no one would bat an eye.

After hitting three home runs in 15 plate appearances as a late-season call-up a year ago, Mancini has begun this season by proving to the Orioles that his power was no fluke. In 106 at-bats so far this season, Mancini has sent seven over the wall. He’s also hit six doubles, meaning more than a third of all his early-season hits have been for extra bases.

If that doesn’t describe the sort of impact he’s had on Baltimore’s lineup, perhaps the reaction of his teammates will.

Mancini has been so blisteringly hot this season that his teammates, including Manny Machado, have resorted to using his bats at the plate. In fact, in a mid-April game, Mancini, Machado and Craig Gentry each hit home runs over a nine-batter span using the youngster’s Louisville Slugger C243.

8. Trea Turner, 23, SS, Washington Nationals

Trea Turner was initially a late-season call-up in 2015, but he didn’t play particularly well. In 2016, that changed drastically when Turner was given more of an opportunity with the Nationals. He hit .342/.370/.567 with 13 home runs, 40 RBI and an impressive 33 stolen bases.

Those 2016 numbers were enough to warrant NL Rookie of the Year conversations, where Turner finished second. They were also enough to warrant starting consideration, which he then went on to secure out of camp this year.

Although Turner is not hitting for the same average early in 2017, it remains clear just how much potential he has. And while far from perfect — there have been some lumps along the way — Turner is again playing well and proving to Washington why he deserves to be in the everyday lineup. The 23-year-old is batting .241 but has nine doubles and four home runs, giving him a .400 slugging percentage.

A versatile player who can also play in center field if need be, Turner is more like an old school base-runner and base stealer than anything else. There are hiccups to his game, but he’s more than capable of snagging a bag in a critical spot.

7. Michael Fulmer, 24, SP, Detroit Tigers

Michael Fulmer went from the minor leagues to the AL Rookie of the Year in what felt like the blink of an eye. There was no transition moment for him — no late-season call-up the year prior. Fulmer was thrust into the fire, starting 26 games for the Tigers in 2016, and he did exceptionally well.

As rookie, Fulmer compiled a record of 11-7 with a 3.06 ERA, while striking out 132 batters in 159 innings. And while the win/loss record may not be eye-opening, his ERA and 1.119 WHIP as an inexperienced rookie certainly were.

Through nine games this season, Fulmer looks even better.

He’s 5-2 with a 2.55 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 50 strikeouts in 60 innings. He’s also displayed increased poise and control on the mound, which has allowed him to work on both sides of the plate. The No. 44 overall pick in 2011 is paying off nicely for Detroit.

6. Corey Seager, 23, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers

Corey Seager is already a star. In his first professional season, the shortstop hit .308/.365/.512 with 26 home runs and 72 RBIs. Those numbers were good enough to win him the NL Rookie of the Year award, an All-Star nod, the Silver Slugger award, and third place in MVP voting.

That’s all just a sign of things to come for Seager, who is again off to a hot start in 2017. He’s batting .292 with 12 doubles and seven home runs this season, giving him an OPS just shy of .900. His 26 walks to 35 strikeouts also represents an improvement over his ratio from a season ago.

Although some may not like his placement on this list after a full year of service in the big leagues, it’s important to remember he’s only 23 years old and has only just begun to scratch the surface of his talent.

Seager has a career average of .308, which is highly impressive for a player his age. If he can improve his patience at the plate and cut down on his strikeouts a bit, he’ll be able to hit effectively in any ballpark in North America.

See Nos. 5-1 on Page 2

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