American League Rookie of the Year candidates will be plentiful for the 2013 season. Several young prospects saw brief looks with their major league clubs late last season while others look to make their mark in the big leagues starting this spring.
Here are five names to watch out for who could be vying for Rookie of the Year Award honors at the end of the season.
1. Danny Hultzen: Seattle Mariners
Selected by the Mariners with the second overall pick in the 2011 MLB draft, left-handed pitcher Danny Hultzen made a strong debut in his first professional season. He posted a 3.05 ERA in 25 starts between Double-A and Triple-A ball last year, striking out 136 batters in 124 innings.
Hultzen will be vying for the final spot in Seattle’s starting rotation this spring. With a high-90s fastball and solid secondary pitches, Hultzen could eventually become a strong left-handed complement to current Mariners ace Felix Hernandez.
2. Dylan Bundy: Baltimore Orioles
Another promising pitcher selected in the first round of the 2011 MLB draft was former Oklahoma high school standout pitcher Dylan Bundy.
Bundy was even more impressive than Mariners prospect Danny Hultzen in his professional debut, posting a 9-3 record and 2.08 ERA in 23 starts across three minor league levels. Bundy also earned a late-season call-up by the Orioles, registering two scoreless relief appearances in late September 2012.
Bundy may start the season at the Triple-A level but could easily find himself contributing at the major league level if any current Orioles starter gets hurt or falters early on.
3. Wil Myers: Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays were willing to sacrifice pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis in order to acquire a hitter of tremendous promise—Wil Myers.
Myers clubbed 37 home runs in the minors last season, including hitting .304 with 24 home runs at Triple-A Omaha. Myers will likely start the season at Triple-A Durham for the Rays. However, if the Rays offense fails to deliver early in the season, Myers’ major-league career could begin this season.
4. Mike Olt: Texas Rangers
Third base prospect Mike Olt destroyed minor league pitching last year, hitting 28 HR and 82 RBI with a .977 OPS at Double-A Frisco. Olt was called up by the Texas Rangers in August, hitting just .152 in limited action.
With Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Mike Napoli no longer helping to lead the offense for the Rangers, Olt will get a long look this spring as a possible offensive weapon. While incumbent third baseman Adrian Beltre blocks his path, Olt could add value for the Rangers at first base, right field and as a designated hitter as well.
5. Bruce Rondon: Detroit Tigers
The American League defending champion Detroit Tigers decided to part ways with closer Jose Valverde during the offseason. Rather than signing another free agent, the Tigers opted to find an internal candidate to take Valverde’s place. That spot could be filled by fireballing right-handed pitching prospect Bruce Rondon.
Rondon saved 29 games across three minor league levels last season, often setting off the radar gun with a blazing 100 MPH fastball.
While Rondon has no major league experience, the Tigers are confident they found their man. And Rondon could absolutely be worthy of a Rookie of the Year Award if he delivers on his promise.
This is a guest post submitted by Ally Silva. Ally played all kinds of sports growing up and adamantly follows everything sports now, particularly Chicago sports. She works with Phoenix Bats, a company that creates world-class wood bats for amateur and professional ball players around the world. Ally loves writing on different sports topics and is very grateful to be able to contribute here.