Keep in mind that most minor league campaigns conclude at the end of August. For some, this will be far more innings pitched or games played than they’ve ever experienced, so September and the postseason could be taxing.
Regardless, below are my monthly rookie rankings, and there are some new names on the list, mostly because I've extended it from 30 names to 50.
For the second month in a row, Fernandez leads the way, this time after going 6-2 with a 1.79 ERA in 11 starts since the start of June. Batters still are hitting just .182 against Fernandez after starting an at-bat with a first-pitch ball. He was named July NL Rookie of the Month and co-player of the week for the week of July 29.
He has been a quick study in pitch sequencing and figuring out how to use both sides of the plate and elevating his fastball to put hitters away upstairs. His curveball has been unhittable, and his slider is nasty. His changeup continues to develop. One of the keys to his success has been his pairing with veteran catcher Jeff Mathis. He has embraced his position with Giancarlo Stanton as one of the Marlins’ franchise faces and given them a pure No. 1 starter around whom they can build.
Puig continues to be a human highlight film, whether he’s hitting a walk-off home run, throwing a runner out at third or making a diving catch. He’s had a hit in every game in August, hitting .480 with as many walks as strikeouts (seven). He has had some injuries because of how hard he plays the game, crashing into walls and diving after balls.
He also carries his emotions onto the field, which can be good and bad. His over-the-top style has been a little much for some opponents, but he does it with Rickey Henderson-type flair. He has become the most exciting player in baseball to watch.
Miller remains in the rookie rankings’ top three, although Atlanta’s Julio Teheran and Tampa’s Wil Myers are closing the gap. Before he left hurt in the first inning Wednesday, Miller had pitched at least five innings in his past five starts and, in each of them, had not allowed more than three runs and had struck out five. His 1.91 ERA on June 6 has inflated to 2.89, but he remains a legitimate contender for NL Rookie of the Year. He can beat the league’s best lineups. He took a line drive off his pitching elbow in the short Wednesday shift, but X-rays turned out negative.
Teheran has gone from the Braves’ No. 5 starter to possibly their Game 2 starter behind Mike Minor come playoff time. Teheran has consistently pitched at least five innings in all 21 of his starts. He has posted double-digit punchouts on three occasions. Teheran pounds the strike zone, pitching mostly 90-94 mph with a nasty slider, an effective curveball and a deceptive change. His confidence within the strike zone is amazing.
Myers has burst on the scene and skyrocketed up this month’s rookie rankings as quickly as Puig did in June. He has done it by absolutely dominating the middle of the Rays’ lineup.
Myers is hitting .335/.386/.532 with eight homers in 176 plate appearances. He has played very well defensively and has been solid running the bases, the Rays’ two biggest concerns about Myers before they called him up. He’s mild-mannered in the dugout and the clubhouse but not at the plate. The Rays now have a bat to protect Evan Longoria in the short and long term.
Ryu has been solid all year, posting an 11-3 record with a 2.99 ERA. Like Teheran, he has pitched at least five innings in all of his 22 starts, and he has given up more than three earned runs just four times.
He has pitched extremely well in three starts against potential playoff teams such as the Braves (12 2/3 IP, 3 ER) and Reds (7 IP, 1 ER). His release point is the same for all of his pitches, and he’ll use his change or his slider in any count. The command of his fastball and deception remain his two strongest skills.
Rays GM Andrew Friedman is one of the best in the game. Although he was praised for acquiring Myers from Kansas City for James Shields last offseason, it has taken two years for the industry to recognize the terrific job he did in acquiring Archer from the Cubs in the Matt Garza trade in 2011.
Archer is one of the most cerebral players in baseball. He’s well-read and highly intellectual, and he makes adjustments with the best in the game. Archer’s fastball is mostly 94-96 mph with a hard 85 mph slider and a deceptive changeup. Right-handed hitters are batting just .146 against him with just one home run. He recently felt some right forearm soreness that forced him to leave his last start, but he insists he'll be fine.
Iglesias is the best defensive infielder in this year’s AL rookie class. With Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta suspended for 50 games for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal, Iglesias should take over shortstop full time and is not expected to give it back. His hands are soft; his arm is strong; and the best parts of his defense are the angles he takes and his reads off the bat. He has great instincts in the field and is always thinking ahead. Offensively, he got off to a hot start, batting .450 in March/April; .423 in May; .395 in June. However, a recent slump at the plate caused him to slip a couple of spots on this list.
Gattis doesn’t have a full-time job on the Braves, but that hasn’t stopped him from leading all rookies in home runs (15) and RBIs (46). His ability to play multiple positions has given the Braves much-needed depth to handle injuries this year. Manager Fredi Gonzalez tries to get him enough playing time to keep him sharp and tries to at least use Gattis off the bench every night. He is a home run threat every time he gets to the plate.
Henderson’s 1.88 ERA and 16 saves in 19 opportunities for baseball’s worst team has been impressive. In 43 innings, he has allowed just 28 hits while striking out 50. His 94-97 mph fastball and hard 86 mph slider have been wipeout pitches as he pounds the zone. He has averaged 10.5 strikeouts every nine innings with an impressive WHIP of just 1.07. He has not allowed a run in his past 10 appearances and hasn’t blown a save since June 30.