India Was the Capitol of Cincinnati During Rookie Campaign Last Year
It cannot go to India this year, so the award is destined for somewhere else. Although he had not been among the top favorites to win, Cincinnati Reds second baseman Jonathan India captured the National League Rookie of the Year award in 2021.
Heading in to this year there is little chance the ROY will go to a second baseman or a member of India's team, even though right hander Hunter Greene has earned a spot in the starting rotation. Top prospect Jose Barrerro, who hopes to become India's double play partner as shortstop at some point this year, will start the season on the injured list.
Even if Barrero does not receive enough at bats to give the Reds their second straight ROY, there is a good chance that the winner of the award will be a shortstop. Of the top twenty five prospective rookies for 2022, twenty percent of them play at the most important spot in the infield.
Hands down favorite to take the award in the American League is shortstop Bobby Witt, Jr, whose impressive spring has reinforced his prospects to be ROY. He figures to be the starting shortstop for the Kansas City Royals on Opening Day and, if he lives up to even half of his potential, he will be the first Royal to be named ROY since Angel Berroa in 2003.
Witt's competition might be Jeremy Pena, who is hoping to replace the departed Carlos Correa as shortstop for the Houston Astros. Pena has always possessed defensive prowess, but over the past two Minor League seasons he has shown much improved power.
Aside from Cincinnati's Barrero, the shortstop most likely to nab the ROY award is Oneil Cruz. The rebuilding Pittsburgh Pirates will give Cruz every chance to win the regular spot, which could result in a solid rookie season.
If the award does not go to a shortstop, then odds are the recipient will be a catcher. That position, too, makes up twenty percent of the list of rookies expecting to make the Big league roster in 2022. That list is topped by Adley Rutschman of the Baltimore Orioles, whose bat and defense are so highly regarded that he was named the number one overall prospect by Baseball America.
Not too far behind Rutschman on the prospect list, at number 11 overall, is Keibert Ruiz. Until a trade at the deadline last year Ruiz had been stuck behind Ill Smith in the Los Angeles system, but with Washington the switch-hitter could start the season as the regular catcher.
Another catcher in the hunt for ROY in the Senior Circuit is Luis Campusano of the San Diego Padres, whose improving defensive skills are finally catching up to his outstanding results as a hitter. He could be competing in the same division as another standout prospect behind the plate, where Joey Bart hopes to replace newly retired All-Star Buster Posey in San Francisco.
Catcher M.J. Melendez would be in the running for American League ROY, considering the catcher led the entire minor leagues in home runs last year. However, Melendez may not get many at bats for Kansas City, being stuck behind future Hall of Fame catcher Salvador Perez.
Given the great number of catchers and shortstops among the Top 25 Prospects expected to debut this year, odds are that a player at one of those two positions will capture the ROY. If not, you could probably put money on the award going to players like outfielders Julio Rodriguez of the Seattle Mariners, Riley Greene of the Detroit Tigers, Brennen Davis of the Chicago Cubs, or Josh Lowe of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Should he succeed in replacing a future Hall of Famer, Detroit Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson could claim the ROY in the American League. The man he intends to replace, Miguel Cabrera, recently handed his first base mitt over to Torkelson in a Grapefruit League contest.