The Year of the Rookie? Rookies Shine in First Week of Season

By MIKE FERKO

An exciting first week of the MLB season has come to a close. There was a ton of action from the first week; many seasoned veterans have made noise with home runs, incredible defensive plays, yet, it is the rookies who have been making the most noise around the major leagues.

Rookie phenoms Trevor Story, Tyler White, Ross Stripling, and Joey Rickard have exceeded expectations and played like they have been in the majors for as long as everyone else.

These eye-opening performances have captured the attention of players and fans everywhere, and there are no signs that these rookies are slowing down.

Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story has been by far the most impressive. Within the first week, he mashed seven home runs in his first six games, breaking the MLB record for the most home runs by a player in the first six games of the season. His debut against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Opening Day was one that will go down as arguably the greatest debut of all time. Facing Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke, who nearly won the Cy Young Award last year, Story homered twice. The next night, he teed off of pitcher Shelby Miller for his third homer. In the last game of the three game series vs the Dbacks, he homered in his first at bat. When the Rockies went home to face the Padres, he hit two home runs in his Coors Field debut. After miraculously staying quiet in game two of the series, he homered in game three, giving him seven total. During this span, he is hitting .333 and has 12 RBI. With the Rockies playing half of their games at Coors Field, where the air is dry and thin, expect to see Story hit the long ball all season long.

In the American League, Astros first baseman Tyler White squeaked past fellow first basemen Jon Singleton and AJ Reed to win the starting job. After not starting in the first game of the season, manager A.J. Hinch decided to give White some time to shine; he has not disappointed as of yet. Through week 1, he is hitting .556 with 10 hits, 3 HR, and 9 RBI. He currently boasts the best batting average in the MLB, among qualifiers. The right-handed slugger should enjoy his new home stadium, Minute Maid Park, due to the short left field porch (only 315 feet).

Truth be told, it is much too early to determine how good Dodgers starting pitcher Ross Stripling is. He has only made one start so far, but it was certainly a memorable one. Taking the ball on a major league mound for the first time ever, Stripling dazzled, throwing 7.1 no hit innings against the rival San Francisco Giants. It should be noted that the game was played in AT&T Park, home of the Giants, making the start even more impressive. He stuck out four, but his four walks caused manager Dave Roberts to pull him out of the game. The relief pitcher who came in next ended up surrendering a two-run home run, so the runner that Stripling left on base was charged to him as an earned run. If Stripling is able to limit the walks this season, he should be a very effective starter. Despite what happens in the coming summer, Stripling’s start has caught the attention of many; a rookie pitcher who has yet to surrender a hit.

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Baltimore Orioles rookie outfielder Joey Rickard earned a starting job over Hyun-soo Kim, an outfielder who was signed out of Korea but had a horrendous spring. In Rickard’s first career at bat, he hit a sharp line drive single up the middle. That was just the opening salvo of his first week though; Rickard is currently boasting a .409 batting average, with nine 9 hits in 22 at bats, a home run, and 3 RBI. His first career home run came at home. As he trotted the bases, fans chanted “Jo-ey! Jo-ey! Jo-ey!”. If Rickard performs like this all year, expect to hear a plethora of Jo-ey chants in Baltimore.

Rangers outfield prospect Nomar Mazara made his debut this past Sunday, April 10th, in Los Angeles against the Angels. He is currently the youngest player in the MLB. In his debut, he went 3-4, including a solo HR.

An incredible showing by these rookies has both their respective teams and fan-bases excited about not only this year but for the future. It seems almost inevitable that these rookies may eventually cool off like any other player normally would, but these opening week performances would say otherwise. With these guys making a big impression, and other rookies awaiting the call to the show, we may be witnessing diamonds in the rough.