10. Felix Hernandez (Seattle Mariners)-
While Felix Hernandez has only made 4 starts in the Major Leagues this year, he has done enough in those 4 starts to have him recognized as one of the top rookies in the major leagues. He currently has an ERA of 1.24, and has been dominating opponents with the ease of a savvy veteran. Felix Hernandez is only 19 years old, and is probably the best prospect pitcher to come along since Mark Prior. While it’s still very early in Felix’s career, he looks to have a very bright future as a dominant #1 starter ahead of him.
9. Joey Gathright (Tampa Bay Devil Rays)-
Joey Gathright is one of the fastest players in Major League Baseball. Since he only has 100 at-bats to his name, he cannot be ranked higher, but he has shown the promise to be an excellent starting center fielder in the major leagues. He is hitting .286, and he already has stolen 10 bases. Expect Gathright to challenge for the stolen base title for the next several years.
8. Robinson Cano (New York Yankees)-
Robinson Cano has done an excellent job filling in at 2nd base for the Yankees this year. He has hit .277, but he also played very well defensively at 2nd base. Playing for the New York Yankees is also a tough proposition for any player, let alone a rookie. With the Yankees struggling to get into the playoffs the team has been under more scrutiny than ever, and Cano has handled it with as much class as one could expect.
7. Zach Duke (Pittsburgh Pirates)-
Zach Duke has shown that he has an incredibly nasty overhand curve, to go along with a 90 miles per hour heater. At this point he has an ERA of 1.87, while going 6-0 to start off his major league career. Duke threw a lot of innings in the minors this year as well, so the Pirates might try to shut him down so that he doesn’t wear himself out. Duke has shown that he is the real deal, and could be a force in the Pirates staff for years to come.
6. Tadahito Iguchi (Chicago White Sox)-
Tadahito has hit .280 for the White Sox this year, but his value has been moving runners over in the 2nd hole for the White Sox. One of the big reasons the White Sox have succeeded this year has been because the team has played solid fundamental baseball. A large part of their team has been Tadahito, who has constantly sacrificed his own at bats for the good of the team. While Tadahito’s stats may not jump out at you, he has joined Major League Baseball and has played an integral part for a playoff caliber ballclub.
5. Ervin Santana (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim)-
Ervin Santana has gone 7-5 with a 4.41 ERA for the Angels this year. As the year has progressed, Ervin has become a better and better pitcher. With the Angels fighting for a playoff spot, Ervin has become a key cog in the Angels rotation. Santana has not given up more than 3 runs in his past 7 outings, and with that kind of production, you can expect Santana to be in the Angels rotation for years to come.
4. Joe Blanton (Oakland Athletics)-
Blanton has done an excellent job in his 1st full season in the major leagues. Blanton was very highly touted in the minor leagues, and has come in and gotten the job done for the Athletics this year. Blanton has a 3.75 ERA this year, but has shown flashes of brilliance, and looks to become the #1 starter that the Athletics have been looking for.
3. Willy Taveras (Houston Astros)-
Willy Taveras has had an amazing rookie season for the Astros. He is currently batting .301 with 31 stolen bases. He has also played an excellent CF, and has been a jump-starter for the Astros lineup all season long. When he gets on base, it is very difficult to stop him from stealing 2nd. With Taveras in centerfield the Astros have found their leadoff hitter for the present and future.
2. Gustavo Chacin (Toronto Blue Jays)-
Gustavo has had an excellent season this year for the hapless Blue Jays. His ERA at 3.40, ranks 9th in the American League. Lefties are currently only hitting .198 against him, while he’s managed to go 11-6 for a losing Blue Jays team. Chacin has proven that he could become a frontline starter in the Major Leagues in the very near future.
1. Huston Street (Oakland Athletics)-
Huston Street has been absolutely phenomenal for the Oakland Athletics this year. When Octavio Dotel went down for the Athletics there was a large hole in the closers role. Mr. Street came in and not only performed well, but has helped propel the Athletics towards the playoffs. Street has a 1.31 ERA, 16 Saves, and a WHIP at .92. Street should win the Rookie of the Year in the American League this year, and with the kind of arm that he possesses, he could be a dominant closer for many years to come.
Honorable Mentions – Nick Swisher, Andrew Sisco, Bobby Jenks, Scott Kazmir, Chien-Ming Wang, Matt Murton, Lance Niekro, Garrett Atkins, Jeff Francoeur, Chris Duffy, Prince Fielder, Delmon Young