In recent years, major league baseball has been fortunate to see the arrival of several talented young players such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Bo Bichette, Wander Franco, Shohei Ohtani and Fernando Tatis Jr, to name a few.
But baseball fans haven’t seen it all yet, because 2022 will see us discovering a new generation of talent. So here are some of the new gems in baseball.
Bobby Witt Jr – Shortstop and 3rd baseman – 21 – Kansas City Royals
The Royals have suffered since winning the World Series in 2015. Not only was their hope bank dry, but the Royals decided to keep veterans like Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer. The latter left as free agents while the Royals could have obtained several good young people to replenish their subsidiary. The good news is that with several difficult seasons, the Royals were able to benefit from several good draft picks and were able to get their hands on youngster Bobby Witt Jr as second overall in the 2019 draft.
The young infielder is the son of Bobby Witt, who had a 16-year career as a pitcher in major league baseball, including 11 in Texas. So son has been immersed in the world of baseball since his first steps and risks becoming one of the most complete players in major league baseball with a mixture of power and speed, in addition to being dominant defensively. Last year at the AA and AAA level, he hit 33 home runs, drove in 97 runs and stole 29 bases. So not only could he become one of the favorite players of baseball fans, he could be very popular in the pools for many years to come. He’s my favorite for rookie of the year in the American League.
Julio Rodriguez – Outfielder – 21 – Seattle Mariners
Even though he’s only 21, Mariners fans know the name Julio Rodriguez very well, as the young right-handed hitter signed from the Dominican Republic in July 2017 at the age of 16. Since joining the ranks of the Mariners organization he has only improved, now he has a .331 overall average during his time in the minor leagues. After an excellent training camp in 2022, the Mariners have decided to make him their full-time center fielder, much to the delight of the team’s fans. He’s got a bright future ahead of him, but his first major league weekend was tough going 1-for-12 with six strikeouts. He certainly has the talent to perform in the Manfred circuit, but will have to see how patient the Mariners will be if the setbacks continue.
Spencer Tolkerson – 1st baseman and 3rd baseman – 22 years old – Detroit Tigers
Spencer Torkelson’s rise has been meteoric. After a stellar career at Arizona State in the NCAA, Torkelson was drafted No. 1 by the Detroit Tigers in 2020. In 2021, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound right-handed hitter had a very strong season in the minors with a total of 30 homers and 91 RBIs, with the result that he rose through the ranks to the AAA level. With Miguel Cabrera now the full-time pick hitter, Torkelson inherited the 1st baseman position with the Tigers, but he’s also doing very well in the hot corner on the other side of the diamond. If you look at his stats from his young career, there will probably be a lot of strikeouts with Torkelson, but also a lot of long pitching, when he adjusts to major league pitching. But like Julio Rodriguez, Torkelson had a tough first weekend with an 0-for-8 record, 3 walks and 6 strikeouts.
Hunter Greene (22) and Nick Lodolo (24) – Starting pitchers- Cincinnati Reds
Reds fans had a tough offseason as the team sold several good players, including Sonny Gray and Jessie Winker, and lost free agent Nick Castellanos to the Phillies. However, the arrival in the rotation of two young wolves, Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo, gives hope for better days for the Reds. Greene, the second overall pick in 2017, has had a bumpy ride as injuries and the pandemic robbed him of many rounds of work. He wasn’t dominant in training camp, but the burly, 6-foot-5, 230-pound right-hander did enough to convince management to keep him with the big club.
If Lodolo is also a pitcher with an imposing frame at 6 feet 6, 205 lbs, he is still very different from Greene since he is left-handed. Lodolo was also a first-round draft pick, 7th overall in 2019, but his track record is statistically more impressive. In 13 starts at the AA and AAA level in 2021, he maintained an excellent average of 2.31 in addition to obtaining 78 strikeouts in only 50 and two-thirds innings. It’s obvious that the Reds’ two young arms will need time to adjust to major league level and could suffer as the team is rebuilding and can’t rely on a lot of talent. Still, there should be several days where people can see that the Reds’ future on the mound is genuinely in good hands.