January 30, 2023

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Who are baseball's hottest rookies? These 10 lead the way

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Welcome back to the Rookie Hot List, MLB.com’s monthly temperature check on some of the rolling rookies around the Major Leagues.

A friendly reminder: this is not about full-season performance. It’s not about who’s going to be where at the end of the year. It’s about who’s hot — the rookies who have had the best performances over the past month. There’s a slight bias toward playing time, so starting pitchers will get a nod over relievers, and a hitter with 80 plate appearances in the past month will win out over a guy with 40.

But beyond that? This is just who’s hot. We don’t even bother with who’s not. So on with the list. (All stats cover the past 30 days, entering Tuesday’s games.)

1. Joe Ryan, RHP, Twins (no longer eligible to be rated as a prospect)
We have a few rookie starting pitchers who are absolutely dealing, and if you wanted to argue that Reid Detmers should rank No. 1 strictly on the strength of his no-hitter, well, you’d have a case. But Ryan leads rookies in innings (33 2/3) over the past 30 days, is tied for second in strikeouts (25) with MacKenzie Gore and is tied with Detmers for second in ERA (2.28) among rookies with at least 20 innings over that span. All three of these guys are separated by the slimmest of margins, but the extra start and innings do it for Ryan.

2. MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Padres (MLB’s No. 83 prospect)
Gore’s remarkable rebound/debut season rolls on. He has yet to allow more than three runs in a start, and his last time out against the Cubs was his first start without walking anyone. The left-hander has 25 strikeouts against just seven walks in four starts over the last month, and he hasn’t surrendered a homer since his big league debut.

3. Reid Detmers, LHP, Angels (no longer eligible to be rated)
He threw a no-hitter! Detmers falls short of Ryan on innings, and well short of both Ryan and Gore on strikeouts (12 in 23 2/3 innings). But let’s not look at what he didn’t do; let’s focus on what he did. A no-hitter, a 2.28 ERA over the past month and only five walks issued in four starts — that’s good stuff.

4. Luis González, OF, Giants (not ranked in San Francisco’s Top 30)
Speaking of guys who had a memorable game, González might even have a better story than Detmers. Not only did he make his Major League pitching debut — tossing 1 1/3 effective innings — he homered in that game. Off of Albert Pujols! That brought González’s line over the past month up to .349/.397/.492, with five extra-base hits and 15 RBIs. The Giants sent him to Triple-A to make room for Tommy La Stella, but performance like that means he’ll likely be back soon.

5. Julio Rodríguez, OF, Mariners (MLB’s No. 3 prospect)
The power hasn’t come yet, but overall, Rodríguez is starting to look like what everyone expects him to be. He’s at .299/.359/.423 over the past month, with eight steals in 10 tries, 12 RBIs and 11 runs scored. He’s also playing every day, leading all rookies in games and at-bats over the past month. Rodríguez is a special player and it’s hard to shake the idea that these past few weeks are the beginning of something really fun.

6. Jeremy Peña, SS, Astros (Houston’s No. 1 prospect)
If this were a fortnightly rating, Peña might come in at No. 1. He was absolutely torrid for much of early May before sustaining a knee injury, bouncing back from a little fade in late April. Overall, he’s at .250/.326/.474 over the past month, leading rookies in homers (5) and RBIs (18) during that time. As with the pitchers, you could absolutely reverse Peña and Rodríguez and not be wrong, but Rodríguez’s OBP and Peña’s missed time make the difference in a very close call. He’s having a heck of a year.

7. Dany Jiménez, RHP, A’s (not ranked in Oakland’s Top 30)
Overvaluing the capital-c closer here? Maybe a little bit, but Jiménez has been lights out. He also had quite the path to the Majors, a 28-year-old rookie who has been playing pro ball since 2015. Over the past month, he has five saves in as many opportunities, a 0.93 ERA in 10 appearances and 10 strikeouts against four walks. Who’s to say how long it continues? But for now, it’s quite a run.

8. Josh Winder, RHP, Twins (Minnesota’s No. 6 prospect)
Winder’s last start didn’t go so well, but overall, he’s been excellent this year. A series of effective relief appearances put him in position to take a rotation spot, and he turned in two excellent starts before a short but not disastrous game against the Astros. He still sports a 1.86 ERA over the past month, with 19 strikeouts against four walks in 19 1/3 innings.

9. Juan Yepez, OF/1B, Cardinals (St. Louis’ No. 6 prospect)
We’ll bend the rules a bit for these last two, going with quality over quantity. Yepez was obliterating the ball at Triple-A Memphis, got the call to the bigs and has kept raking since getting to the Cardinals. He’s building on a breakout 2021 in which he hit 27 homers between Double-A and Triple-A.

10. Gilberto Celestino, OF, Twins (no longer eligible to be rated)
Yep, another Twin. Celestino has never flashed much power, but he’s getting on base while bouncing around between the outfield spots. Celestino is at .354/.415/.438 over the past month, a nice turnaround from his rocky debut last year.

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