Everything 2020 Rookies: Opening Day

Written by: Michael Schneider (@mikecschneider)

Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365

Every other week during the 2020 season I will be discussing rookies. This initial article is an overview of rookies based on opening day rosters.

The sixty game 2020 season is a unique season. Teams are allowed thirty players of their roster for the first two weeks and then twenty-eight active players for the next two weeks before going down to twenty-six player after that. In September, the roster size will increase back to twenty-eight. Opening day roster including unusually large pitching staff since starting pitchers are not as stretched out at the beginning of the year as they would normally be.

Due to service time considerations, several of the best prospects in baseball will not be called up until the season is seven days old. Nate Pearson, Dylan Carlson, Jo Adell, Nick Madrigal and Spencer Howard can all be expected to be called up around August 1st.

Without a minor league season, there are several instances where teams are carrying top prospects who are not major league ready just to gain experience They are unlikely to play much but evidently the teams determined that these prospects would benefit more from being in the majors than they would at the team’s alternate training camp where they would be only be able to play in intra-squad games. The Rangers’ Leody Tavares and the Mets’ Andres Gimenez are examples.

With players going on the injured list after testing positive for COVID 19 it is possible that there will be more opportunities for prospects. However, the season is shorter and after a few weeks, minor league prospects will be at a disadvantage because they are not playing in games like the major leaguers. It would seem to be more difficult to transition to the majors from the alternate training site then it was in previous seasons when prospects are playing in minor league games prior to getting called up to the majors.

American League Rookies on Opening Day Rosters

Baltimore Orioles Rookies

Cody Carroll RHP (27)

Austin Hays CF (25)

Travis Lakins RHP (26)

Cole Sulser RHP (30)

Andrew Velazquez INF (26)

Hays reached the majors in his first full pro season 2017, but then struggled to stay healthy for the most of the next two seasons. He was finally healthy and impressed especially defensively at the end of 2019. Hays can do a little bit of everything and has the centerfield job all to himself. Sulser is a journeyman reliever who has put up big strikeout numbers in the minors. Hunter Harvey will begin the season on the injured list but is not expected to be out long. Harvey has an electric arm but has a difficult time staying healthy. His father, Bryan had 177 career saves and Harvey is expected to have a high leverage role out of the Orioles bullpen once he returns to full health. Ryan Mountcastle is a talented hitting prospect that could be called up and become an everyday player soon. Dean Kremer and Keegan Akin could get opportunities as starting pitchers at some point in 2020.

Boston Red Sox Rookies

Jonathan Arauz INF (22)

Matt Hall LHP (27)

Phillips Valdez RHP (28)

That Matt Hall is listed as a Red Sox fourth starter says a lot about the state of the Red Sox rotation with Eduardo Rodriguez and Chris Sale injured. Bobby Dalbec is not on the opening day roster but could get an opportunity later in the season. Dalbec is a streaky three outcome hitter who is blocked at third with the Red Sox so barring an injury to Rafael Devers he would be limited to first base or designated hitter.

Chicago White Sox Rookies

Zack Collins C-1B (25)

Codi Heuer RHP (24)

Jimmy Lambert RHP (25)

Danny Mendick INF (26)

Luis Robert CF (23)

I saw Robert hit a pair of homers on opening day 2019, and he excelled at three minor league levels during year. Robert is an athletic freak who is the favorite to win rookie of the year in the American League. Collins is a three-outcome hitter with offensive skills, but questionable defense behind the plate and nowhere to play. Lambert underwent Tommy John surgery in late June 2019, so it is surprising he is back already and pitching in the majors despite previously only reach AA. Heuer converted from a starter to a reliever in 2019. Mendick was a late round draft pick in 2015 that have been productive at every level and will serve as a backup infielder. It is expected that Nick Madrigal will be called up and become the everyday second baseman once the White Sox are able to gain an extra year of service time. Madrigal has an elite hit tool and is a good fielder with decent speed but no power.


Cleveland Indians Rookies

Yu Chang SS (24)

Cam Hill RHP (24)

Daniel Johnson RF (25)

James Karinchak RHP (24)

Karinchak posted eye popping strikeout numbers in 2019 and should have a high leverage role out of the Indians bullpen. Chang is a talented player who was impressive in summer camp but does not have a role unless there is an injury. Johnson was not on the Indians initial roster but was called up prior to opening due because Tyler Naquin was banged up. Johnson is a good prospect with a well rounded games, but is unlikely to get much of an opportunity in 2020.

Detroit Tigers Rookies

Bryan Garcia RHP (25)

John Schreiber RHP (26)

Kyle Funkhouser RHP (26)

Beau Burrow RHP (23)

Rony Garcia RHP (22)

In the 2015 draft, the Tigers picked Burrows with the twenty-second overall pick. Walker Buehler went twenty-fourth and Mike Soroka was selected twenty eighth. Burrows had a rough 2019 season but believes he has fixed his mechanics. Rony Garcia was the first overall pick in the rule five draft this off season and must stay in the majors in 2020 or the Tigers would have to offer back to the Yankees. The Tigers have three exciting pitching prospects (Casey Mize, Matt Manning and Tarik Skubal) that are close to major league ready but are not on their opening day roster. It is any bodies guess whether they will be called up this year or the Tiger will further manipulate their service time.

Houston Astros Rookies

Bryan Abreu RHP (22)

Brandon Bailey RHP (25)

Cristian Javier RHP (23)

Jack Mayfield INF (29)

Enoli Paredes RHP (24)

Cy Sneed RHP (27)

Garrett Stubbs C (27)

Blake Taylor LHP (24)

Abraham Toro 3B (23)

Abreu, Paredes and Javier have lively arms that have the potential to be integral parts of the Astros bullpen. Toro is a nice hitting prospect but is unlikely to have a regular role barring injury. Jose Urquidy is still a rookie despite being a 2019 post season hero. He was expected to be in the Astros starting rotation but will begin the year on the injured list due to undisclosed reasons and did not even start working out until July 24th, so Urquidy is likely weeks away from joining the rotation. Forrest Whitley, who is as talented as any pitching prospect in baseball is not on the opening day roster but lost thirty pounds since spring training and had a positive summer camp so it is possible, he makes it his major league debut this season.

Kansas City Royals Rookies

Ronald Bonalos RHP (23)

Foster Griffin LHP (25)

Richard Lovelady LHP (25)

Ryan McBroom 1B / OF (28)

Erick Mejia UT (25)

Brady Singer RHP (23)

Gabe Speier LHP (25)

Josh Staumont RHP (26)

Kyle Zimmer RHP (28)

Tyler Zuber RHP (25)

Brady Singer went to Florida where he helped the Gators win the National Championship in 2017 and won the Dick Howser Trophy in 2018. He is now in the Royals starting rotation after just one full year in minors. Singer is an advanced pitcher that is a bulldog on the mound.  Josh Staumont, Richard Lovelady and Ronald Bonalos are hard throwing relievers. Kyle Zimmer and Foster Griffin are former first round picks trying to carve out a career in the bullpen.

Los Angeles Angels Rookies

Michael Hermosillo RF (25)

Patrick Sandoval LHP (22)

Jared Walsh 1B LHP (26)

Sandoval will get a chance to start for the Angels. He has a solid four pitch mix with questionable command. Walsh is notable because he is two-way player, a poor man’s Shohei Ohtani who hit thirty-six homers in ninety-eight games in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League in 2019 but is unlikely to play much in 2020. Jo Adell is the notable prospect that the Angels could call up after the first week of the season. Adell is a tooled-up top five prospect in baseball who projects to eventually be a big-time power hitter. Brandon Marsh is an all-around talent that could get an opportunity later in the season if there is an opening in the Angels outfield.

Minnesota Twins Rookies

Randy Dobnak RHP (25)

Devin Smeltzer LHP (24)

Cody Stashak RHP (26)

Lewis Thorpe LHP (24)

LaMonte Wade Jr OF (26)

Aaron Whitefield OF (23)

The Twins have a strong farm system, but the 2020 impact is likely to be minimal other that the Twins battle for the fifth starter role. Randy Dobnak who was undrafted out of college, began 2019 in the Florida State League and ended it by starting a playoff game for the Twins will get first crack at the fifth starter spot. Lewis Thorpe and Devin Smeltzer are waiting in the wings for their opportunity.

New York Yankees Rookies

Albert Abreu RHP (24)

Michael King RHP (25)

King has a big year across three levels in 2018 before missing much of 2019 with an injury. King’s strength is his command and will open the year in the rotation at least until Masahiro Tanaka returns from an injury. Clarke Schmidt turned some heads in summer camp. He is very talented but has limited experience in the upper minors. Schmidt is not the opening roster but could be called to the majors during the season.

Oakland Athletics Rookies

Austin Allen C (26)

Seth Brown 1B / LF (28)

Jesus Luzardo LHP (22)

Vimael Machin INF (26)

Sean Murphy C (25)

Jordan Weems RHP (27)

The As were hoping to have their two top pitching prospects (Jesus Luzardo and AJ Puk) in the starting rotation. AJ Puk is on injured list with an arm injury and with such a short season, how much he can contribute in 2020 is questionable. Luzardo was a late arrival due to COVID 19 and will begin the season out of the bullpen. Sean Murphy is a solid catching prospect that is strong defensively and has hit well in minors.   He will be the As starting catcher in 2020.

Seattle Mariners Rookies

Justin Dunn RHP (24)

Zac Grotz RHP (27)

Joe Hudson C (29)

Kyle Lewis CF (25)

Tim Lopes LF 2B (26)

Jose Marmolejos 1B / LF (27)

Anthony Misiewicz LHP (25)

Yohan Ramirez RHP (25)

Justis Sheffield RHP (24)

Evan White 1B (24)

The Mariner has several rookies in key roles. Evan White is the starting first basemen. He is outstanding defensively and more athletic than the typical first basemen. White has more power than people think. Kyle Lewis is the starting centerfielder. He was a high pick whose career was slowed by injuries but is now healthy and played well in a late season audition in 2019. Justus Sheffield was acquired in the James Paxton trade and seems like he been on prospect rankings for years. Justin Dunn was acquired in the Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz trade. Both Sheffield and Dunn are in the starting rotation although I do think Dunn need a bit more time in the minors. It was a surprise that Jake Fraley was left off the Mariners opening roster and he still may get an opportunity at some point in 2020 since the Mariners left field position is wide open. The Mariners have done a nice job rebuilding and have some exciting prospects that should be ready soon.

Tampa Bay Rays Rookies

Peter Fairbanks RHP (26)

Ryan Thompson RHP (28)

Yoshi Tsutsugo 3B / OF (28)

Tsutsugo is technically a rookie but was a star in Japan prior to signing a two year twelve-million-dollar contract with the Rays. Tsutsugo has averaged thirty-five homers in Japan the last four years. On the surface, the Rays trade of Nick Solak for Peter Fairbanks at the 2019 trade deadline did not make much sense. Solak is an impressive major league ready prospect, while Fairbanks had Tommy John surgery twice and was unheralded coming in 2019. The Rays typically know what they are doing, and Fairbanks has looked good in summer camp and could play a big role in the Rays bullpen with Colin Poche out. Thompson has s a submarine pitching delivery and impressed in spring training and summer camp.

Texas Rangers Rookies

Kolby Allard LHP (22)

Ian Gibaut RHP (26)

Scott Heineman OF / 1B (27)

Jonathan Hernandez RHP (24)

Joe Palumbo LHP (25)

Nick Solak UT (25)

Leody Tavares CF (21)

Jose Trevino C (27)

At least initially, the Rangers more so than other teams, have put prospects in the majors, that would typically be playing in the minors if not for the shutdown. Solak is a good prospect that can play several positions but does not a role to begin the season. Allard, Hernandez and Palumbo are decent starting pitching prospects. Tavares is very talented but likely will need at least another year in the minors. Gibaut is an interesting sleeper in the bullpen. He was good for several seasons in the minors before struggling in 2019. Gibaut looked strong in summer camp.

Toronto Blue Jays Rookies

Reese McGuire C (25)

Santiago Espinal INF (25)

Anthony Alford OF (26)

Thomas Hatch RHP (25)

Shun Yamaguchi RHP (32)

Jordan Romano RHP (27)

Anthony Kay LHP (25)

The Blue Jays has several high profile rookies in 2019 (Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio) all who happen to have famous fathers. There are no high-profile prospects on the Blue Jays opening day roster. However, Nate Pearson is a big power pitcher that will likely be called after the first week of the season. Pearson is one of the mostly highly touted major league ready prospects in baseball. Thomas Hatch was acquired by the Jays at the trade deadline in 2019 for David Phelps. He was outstanding after the trade in six starts in AA and will have an opportunity to be in the Blue Jay starting rotation. Anthony Kay was also acquired last July from the Mets in the Marcus Stroman trade. He will begin the season out of the bullpen but could eventually start if there is an opening.

National League Rookies on Opening Day Rosters

Arizona Diamondbacks Rookies

Josh Rojas LF (26)

Kevin Ginkel RHP (26)

Taylor Widener RHP (25)

The Diamondbacks have a good farm system, but not many prospects that are a possibility to make an impact in 2020. Josh Rojas was acquired in the Zach Greinke trade and is well rounded, close to major ready prospect who is coming off a strong 2019 minor league season but the Diamondbacks do not appear to have an opportunity for Rojas since they acquired Starling Marte. Kevin Ginkel was a late round draft pick in 2016 that has been outstanding out of the bullpen at every level and was excellent for the Diamondbacks at the end of 2019. He has a chance to pitch in the back end of the Diamondbacks’ bullpen. Widener made the Diamondbacks roster as a reliever after a difficult year in 2019 as a starter in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League.

Atlanta Braves Rookies

Williams Contreras C (22)

Alex Jackson C (24)

Kyle Wright RHP (24)

Wright was a high draft pick out of Vanderbilt that had a good season at AAA considering the hitter crazy environment. He is in the starting rotation and should be poised to establish himself as a quality pitcher. The Braves found themselves in a situation before opening day when their two primary catchers (Tyler Flowers and Travis d’Arnaud) got COVID 19. Alex Jackson and William Contreras will handle catching duties in the meantime. Jackson was a former high draft pick that has good power but swing and miss issues. Contreras is a decent prospect but at least a year away. The Braves top two prospects are outfielders (Christian Pache and Drew Waters) who most likely will not be called up in 2020.

Chicago Cubs Rookies

Nico Hoerner 2B (23)

Dillon Maples RHP (28)

James Norwood RHP (26)

Duane Underwood RHP (26)

Hoerner is the only Cubs rookie that is likely to have a significant role in 2020. Hoerner and Jason Kipnis are in line to split the second base role although the amount each plays will likely be based on performance. Hoerner has a good hit tool, with decent speed and limited power potential. Adbert Alzolay did not make the open day roster but may be the rookie with the second-best chance to have an important role in 2020. Alzolay can start or relieve.

Cincinnati Reds Rookies

Shogo Akiyama CF (32)

Brooks Raley LHP (32)

Akiyama was a well-established star in Japan, who the Reds signed this off-season to a three-year contract for twenty-one million dollars. Since this is his first year in the major leagues Akiyama is technically a rookie although he is really a veteran. Akiyama is a good all-around player who will likely be the Reds starter centerfielder. The Reds are all in for 2020 and do not have any other rookie that is a candidate for a significant role with the team.

Colorado Rockies Rookies

Phillip Diehl RHP (26)

Josh Fuentes UT (27)

Ashton Goudeau RHP (28)

Sam Hilliard OF (26)

The Rockies are notorious in recent years for playing veterans position players over young players. Ryan, McMahon, Garrett Hampson and Raimel Tapia are no longer rookies, but they still are young players looking to establish themselves. The designated hitter coming to the National League and Ian Desmond opting out opened some playing time. Sam Hilliard is a big power guy who move surprising well, coming off a big 2019 year in AAA, who will be in the mix for playing time. Brendan Rodgers, who has been a top prospect for five years after being a high draft pick in 2015, did not make the opening day roster, but possibly could be called up and earn playing time as well. Ashton Goudeau came out of nowhere in 2019 to have an outstanding year in AA and the Arizona Fall League will be in the bullpen. The Rockies acquired Phillip Diehl before the 2019 season for Mike Tauchman. Diehl was a late round draft pick who was an outstanding reliever in the minor leagues in 2017 and 2018 but struggled last season.

Los Angeles Dodgers Rookies

Brusdar Graterol RHP (21)

Dustin May RHP (22)

Dennis Santana RHP (24)

Graterol is a thick hard thrower that the Dodgers acquired for Kenta Maeda in the off season after the Red Sox did not like the results of his medical and the three team Mookie Betts trade had to be tweaked. Graterol should be one of the top set up men out of the bullpen in front of Kenley Jansen. Santana has a lively arm and will look to rebound from a rough 2019. Dustin May is one of the best pitching prospects in baseball and was expected to piggy back with Walker Buehler as Buehler builds stamina after a late start. However, when Clayton Kershaw went on the injured list hours before opening day, May become the emergency opening day starter. The Dodgers have a couple of other prospects that are not on the opening roster but could be up soon. Gavin Lux is a top five prospect in baseball and was expected to be the Dodgers second baseman after a huge 2019 season but was a surprise demotion. Tony Gonsolin pitched very well in forty innings for the Dodgers in 2019 but will not begin the season in the big leagues. Both Lux and Gonsolin were arrivals to summer camp for undisclosed reasons.

Miami Marlins Rookies

Robert Dugger RHP (25)

Jordan Holloway RHP (24)

Nick Neidert RHP (23)

Sterling Sharp RHP (25)

Alex Vesia RHP (24)

The Marlins have a good farm system, but not many top prospects that project to have an impact in 2020. Like many pitchers, Nick Neidert struggled in AAA in 2019 with the extreme hitting conditions. Neidert made the Marlins as a reliever, but he has the skills to eventually be a major league starter. Jordan Holloway can throw hard but struggles with his command. The Marlins have converted him to the pen. Alex Vesia was a 2018 late round draft pick as a reliever that dominated the minors and made the Marlins opening day roster. Centerfielder Monte Harrison will likely be called up shortly. He is a tremendous athlete with huge power and speed potential but swing and miss issues.

Milwaukee Brewers Rookies

JP Feyereisen RHP (27)

Bobby Wahl RHP (28)

Devin Williams RHP (25)

Eric Yardley RHP (29)

The Brewers are a veteran team and when Keston Hiura was called up last year, there were few immediate impact prospects in the Brewers organization. The Brewers converted Devin Williams to a reliever in 2019 and had success primarily in AA. Williams is now throwing in the upper nineties, but the command still need work. Feyereisen is an older local prospect that the Brewers acquired from the Yankees at the end of last season. He has a strong year in AAA in 2019.

New York Mets Rookies

Andrew Gimenez SS (21)

Gimenez is the only rookie on the Met opening day roster. He would likely be in AA if there was a minor league season but will be a utility player with the Mets. David Peterson has a chance to get called up and join the Mets starting rotation if they continue to struggle with injuries. He is a tall sinker-ball pitcher with a high floor and low ceiling that is close to being major league ready.

Philadelphia Phillies Rookies

Kyle Garlick LF (28)

Cole Irvin RHP (26)

Trevor Kelley RHP (26)

Reggie McClain RHP (27)

Ramon Russo RHP (24)

The Phillies has several journeymen in their bullpen that are still rookies. However, it is a prospect that is not on the Phillies opening date roster who is likely to be a big impact in 2020. Spencer Howard, a twenty-four-year-old right-hander is one of best pitching prospects in baseball and is expected to be called up after the first week of the season. Howard is a major league ready pitcher who throws in the upper nineties with four quality pitches.

Pittsburgh Pirates Rookies

JT Brubaker RHP (26)

Phillip Evans INF (27)

Mitch Keller RHP (24)

Jason Martin LF (24)

Nik Turley LHP (30)

The Pirates got a new front office in the off season and are now in full rebuild status. Mitch Keller was a top prospect for several years that debuted in 2019 but retained his rookie status. Keller is a talented pitch who just missed exceeding rookie status in 2019 by a couple of innings. Keller’s FIP was less than half of his ERA and he had strong strikeout numbers. Third basemen Ke’Bryan Hayes and centerfielder Jared Oliva are prospects that are not on the opening day roster hat could get an opportunity later in the year.

San Diego Padres Rookies

David Bednar RHP (25)

Jake Cronenworth INF / RHP (26)

Javy Guerra RHP (24)

Edward Olivares RF (24)

The Padres traded several outfielders in the off season, which created an opening for Edward Olivares to at least be a platoon player. Olivares had a nice year in AA in 2019 and has a good power and speed combination. It is unclear if the Padres are planning to call up their two top pitching prospects. Left-hander, MacKenzie Gore is ranked by most as the top pitching prospect in baseball and right-hander, Luis Patino is another elite pitching prospect. Gore has pitched just 21.2 innings at AA and Patino has just 7.2 innings of experience at AA.

San Francisco Giants Rookies

Jaylin Davis RF (26)

Mauricio Dubon 2B (26)

Tyler Heineman C (29)

Dany Jimenez RHP (26)

Tyler Rogers RHP (29)

Logan Webb RHP (23)

Dubon will likely get the first crack at the Giants second base job. He played well in an audition last September after being acquired in the Drew Pomeranz trade with Brewers. Dubon is the first major league player from Honduras. Davis will be available if one of the Giants projected starting outfielders falter. He had a huge stretch in AAA in 2019 after the Giants acquired him from the Twins in the Sam Dyson trade. Tyler Rodger, who is a submarine style pitcher, has bounced around the Giants organization since being drafted in 2013 but was impressive out of the Giants’ bullpen in the last month of 2019 after finally making his MLB debut. He has a chance to fill a high leverage role in the wide-open Giants bullpen. When Buster Posey opted out of the 2020 season, there was speculation that the Giants would call up the second overall pick in the 2018 draft, Joey Bart, but he has very limited experience in the upper minors and is not on the initial roster. Journeyman, Tyler Heineman has at least a share of the catching duties at the start of the season.

St. Louis Cardinals Rookies

Junior Fernandez RHP (23)

Kwang Hyun Kim LHP (32)

Andrew Knizner C (25)

Rangel Revelo 1B (28)

Edmundo Sosa 2B (24)

Kodi Whitley RHP (25)

Outfielder Dylan Carlson is one of the best major league ready prospects in baseball. He did not make the opening day roster likely due to service time considerations but should be an everyday player for the Cardinals beginning early in the season. Carlson has a coach’s son with a well-rounded game. Kim is a veteran KBO starting pitcher who signed with the Cardinals in the offseason and is getting a crack at the closer job for the Cardinals. Fernandez is a hard thrower that the Cardinal converted to a reliever in 2019 and excelled in the minors. Whitley was a late round draft choice that was successful in the minors.

Washington Nationals Rookies

James Bourque RHP (27)

Kyle Finnegan RHP (28)

Carter Kieboom INF (22)

Raudy Read C (26)

The world champion Nationals are a veteran team with only close to major league ready impact prospect. Kieboom is a consensus top twenty prospect, who struggled in a brief major league audition in 2019. He will compete for playing time at third base with Asdrubal Cabrera. Kieboom mostly played shortstop previously has little to prove in the minors, especially with the bat.

Rookie of the Year American League Chances

Luis Robert 30%

Jesus Luzardo 15%

Evan White 10%

Jo Adell 10%

Brady Singer 5%

Nate Pearson 5%

Kyle Lewis 5%

Sean Murphy 5%

Austin Hays 2%

Yoshi Tsutsugo 2%

Nick Madrigal 2%

Nick Solak 2%

Clarke Schmidt 1%

James Karinchak 1%

Bryan Abreu 1%

Rookie of the Year National League Chances

Dylan Carlson 15%

Spencer Howard 15%

Dustin May 10%

Carter Kieboom 5%

Gavin Lux 5%

Kyle Wright 5%

Mitch Keller 5%

Shogo Akiyama 5%

Nico Hoerner 5%

Kwang Hyun Kim 2%

Sam Hilliard 2%

Mauricio Dubon 2%

Edward Olivares 1%

Follow P365 Prospect Analyst Michael Schneider on Twitter! @mikecschneider

Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365

Featured image courtesy of photographer Kim Klement and USA Today Sports



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