Sorry, Tim Tebow, your time has not yet come.
Though the former NFL quarterback has been the talk of spring training this year, he is far, far, far away from being a “top prospect” in baseball circles. He was assigned by the Mets to the Class A Columbia Fireflies, a full season minor league club where he’ll get a chance to prove that his baseball skills are up to snuff — or not.
As for the real prospects either on the cusp of big league stardom or who have made their rosters out of spring training, there are many good ones.
They will follow in the footsteps of 2016 bright lights Michael Fulmer and Corey Seager.
Fulmer, a starting pitcher, made the jump from AAA Toledo to the Detroit Tigers early last season and copped AL Rookie of the Year honors for his 11-7, 3.06 ERA season.
Seager, a shortstop, was with the Dodgers full-time in 2016, batting .308 with 26 HR and 72 RBI to run away with NL Rookie of the Year honors.
Here are 10 prospects who, should they qualify this season, might take a run at the RoY mantles.
10. Francis Martes, SP – Houston Astros
Martes was cut about two weeks ago and sent to the AA Corpus Christi Hooks, but not after making a very good impression for someone so young. He is the organization’s top pitching prospect and depending on how things go in Houston this season, he could at worst be a late season call-up when rosters expand. He went 1-1 in four games in the Cactus League, one of those games a start. Martes logged a 3.86 ERA in seven innings, allowing three runs on seven hits, while allowing just one walk and striking out four. Pretty good stuff for a 21-year-old hurler. The Cotui, D.R. native has progressed up the ladder nicely in Houston’s system and it won’t be a stretch to improve on his 2016 numbers with the Hooks. He went 9-6, with a 3.30 ERA in 25 games, 22 of them starts. He struck out 131 batters in 125.1 total innings, while surrendering just four homers and walking 47 batters. Martes has a mid-90s fastball, an excellent curve and is working on a change-up for his repertoire.
9. Lewis Brinson, OF – Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers will soon reap the rewards promised when the shipped Jonathan Lucroy to the Texas Rangers at last year’s deadline. Going the other way to the Brewers in the deal was elite outfield prospect Lewis Brinson, who had a pretty good camp, only to get sent down to the Colorado Springs Skysox for what may be likely his final pro tune-up. The speedy centerfielder hit .294 in 14 spring training contests, clanking out two homers and driving in eight runs. He also had four doubles, four walks and stole a base. In 2016, the Rangers first round pick in 2012 (29th overall) played at three levels of minor league ball, with a brief stop in rookie ball for Texas, followed by an extended stay with AA Frisco of the Texas League, where he hit .237 with 11 HR and 40 RBI in 77 games. After the trade, the Brewers placed him with the Skysox for 23 games, with his average ballooning to .382, along with four homers and 20 RBI.
8. Robert Gsellman, SP – New York Mets
Steven Matz is out, for the time being, meaning Robert Gsellman gets a chance to prove that his eight-game premier with the Metropolitans last year was no fluke. Called up late in the season, the unheralded rookie pitched admirably in seven starts and an extended relief appearance. He went 4-2, including two impressive starts against rival Washington. He spun six innings of six-hit, one run ball on Sept. 3 as the Mets prevailed 3-1. On Sept. 14, the Mets lost 1-0 to the Nats, but Gsellman was dominant, going five and two-thirds of shutout ball. He allowed just five hits, while walking just one and striking out four. The lanky righty was decent in five spring training starts this year too. He recorded a 1-2 record, along with a 2.31 ERA (top among all New York starters) and 15 Ks in 23.1 innings. Manager Terry Collins has raved about Gsellman’s repertoire of pitches, which includes a mid-90s fastball, sinker, cutter, slider and change-up.
7. Cody Bellinger, 1B – Los Angeles Dodgers
When Adrian Gonzalez does finally retire, first base in Los Angeles will be well taken care of. That day may not be coming too soon, however, with the power and promise of Cody Bellinger, Gonzalez will be pushed to keep putting up big numbers with the Dodgers. Bellinger, a lanky left-hand hitting product out of Scottsdale, AZ, starts this year in Oklahoma City after a decent spring where he hit .207 with two homers and 10 RBI (fourth most). He was solid at the AA level for Tulsa last year, blasting 23 homers in 114 games along with 65 RBI. One of the organizations top prospect has had great overall power numbers in minor league ball, logging a .494 slugging percentage at all levels. As a fielder, he makes few error and has a .991 fielding percentage.
6. Yoan Moncada, 3B/DH – Chicago White Sox
While the Boston Red Sox will benefit from the trade with the Chicago that brought in ace hurler Chris Sale, Chisox fans can take heart that uber-prospect 3B Yoan Moncada isn’t far away from being an everyday third baseman. For now, Chicago has Todd Frazier at the hot corner and he won’t relinquish it for a while after hitting 40 homers last season. However, Moncada can DH and is fleet of foot enough (94 stolen bases in 187 minor league games) to give the White Sox options later this season. Moncada is on the AAA Charlotte Knights roster and given Chicago’s reluctance to rush players like 21-year-old Moncada, he might not make an appearance until after the all-star game, depending on his production in AAA. In spring training this year he gave fans a glimpse of his prowess, hitting .317 with three homers and 13 RBI.
5. Aaron Judge, RF – New York Yankees
For the first time in a long time, the Yankees have a lot of good young homegrown talent in the line-up. They would include catching sensation Gary Sanchez, first baseman Greg Bird and rightfielder Aaron Judge. Bird and Sanchez have all but assured themselves major league status, while the wild card is Judge, who got in the fewest games of the three last season when the Yanks were all but out of the playoff picture. He hit just .179 in his 27 games, but his size, bat and throwing arm are all very intriguing. Of his 15 hits during the 2016 call-up, Judge had four homers and two doubles, along with 10 RBI. In 93 games with AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season, he hit .270 with 19 HR and 65 RBI. Judge won the right field job with the Yankees out of spring training, ripping the hide off the ball to the tune of a .333 average, six extra base hits and seven RBI.
4. Hunter Renfroe, RF – San Diego Padres
In a shade under four years, Hunter Renfroe has gone from first round draft pick (13th overall by San Diego) to starting right fielder. The Mississippi State product had a meteoric rise through the Padres minor league system, progressing to AA El Paso in two seasons and getting an 11-game set with the big club in 2016. He made a huge impact in those 11 starts, hitting .371 with three doubles, four homers and 14 RBI. The 25-year-old power hitter continued his ascent to being the starting right fielder in San Diego by hitting .315 in spring training, stroking a team leading eight doubles and adding two homers and 12 RBI. Renfroe also has a strong arm in right, having logged 17 assists in 11 games at that position with El Paso in 2016 and adding one with the Padres in his short call-up.
3. Tyler Glasnow, SP – Pittsburgh Pirates
At 6’8″, there aren’t many pitchers in the major leagues as physically imposing as Pittsburgh’s Tyler Glasnow. The 23-year-old Californian, chosen in the fifth round of the 2011 draft, will get a chance to put that lanky frame on display every fifth day with the Bucs after winning the last spot in the rotation. His spring training body of work wasn’t all that impressive, but manager Clint Hurdle and the rest of the organization think his potential is near limitless. Glasnow’s spring ERA was 6.23 in six games (three starts), however, he fanned an astounding 28 batters in just 17.1 innings of work. He will have to work on his spotting his pitches better (he gave up 25 hits) and will no doubt have growing pains. No disputing though that his high-90s fastball and excellent curve ball are major league caliber.
2. Dansby Swanson, SS – Atlanta Braves
The future is now in Atlanta. The Braves platooned Chase d’Arnaud and Erick Aybar at short last season, to little effect. When they called up fast-rising 2015 no.1 overall pick (by Arizona) Dansby Swanson late in the year, the writing was on the wall for Aybar and d’Arnaud. The 23-year-old native of Kennesaw, Georgia hit .302 in 38 games, adding 11 extra base hits and 17 RBI. Fortunate for Swanson, too, he keeps his rookie status (making him an odds on favorite for RoY), having gone one at-bat short of losing it. He’s speedy enough on the basepaths to be a great no. 2 hitter (three stolen bases in three attempts). Defensively, he has exceptional range, an above average arm and decent hand. The Braves absolutely heisted Arizona to get Swanson, surrendering middling starter Shelby Miller, with Swanson soon to be their leader and face of the franchise.
1. Andrew Benintendi, LF – Boston Red Sox
That outfield in Boston, despite its relative youth, is looking like the best one in baseball. With the arrival of top prospect Benintendi, 22, a triumvirate that includes Jackie Bradley, Jr. (26) and Mookie Betts (24) will be a great one for years to come. Cincinnati born Benintendi made good on his first round (seventh overall, 2015) draft promise during a 34-game stint in 2016, hitting .295 with 11 doubles, a triple, two homers and 14 RBI. In left field, Benintendi will get a chance to show off his range and arm, even though he could cover Bradley Jr.’s center. In 97 games of A-AA ball last season, Benintendi had eight assists and a .996 fielding percentage. He showed great contact at the plate in just his second year of minor league ball, recording a .312 batting average, including 31 doubles, 12 triples, nine homers and 76 RBI. The odds-on favorite to win American League Rookie of the Year.