Rookies have had an outsized effect on the 2016 season and pennant race. Many of these breakout players aren't candidates for the Rookie of the Year Award; they came up later in the season and have contributed 200-300 at-bats or 50-100 innings, often of the high-impact variety. Players such as Gary Sanchez, Alex Bregman, Luke Weaver and Alex Reyes, to name a few, have made their presence felt, to say the least.
Who are some of the players who will do the same in upcoming seasons? Selecting them is today's task.
Each year, going back to the days preceding my career in baseball, I prepare top position-player and pitching prospect lists, based on relative performance and age relative to league and level (for full-season league participants only). I don't get too caught up in the exact rankings, which are at times triggered by small samples, but this serves primarily as a follow list, a starting point from which more specific talent evaluation can be conducted.
Instead of simply listing my top overall positional and pitcher prospect rankings here, I'm going to focus on groups of players I expect to make material impacts at the major league level in 2017, 2018 and 2019. You are already familiar with some of these players; a few have already made their big league debuts. The names of others will be more unfamiliar to the relatively casual fan, but their performance relative to the league at a very young age has marked them for success.
Today isn't the day to provide detailed scouting breakdowns on these players. We aren't strictly selecting the very best prospects, either; some guys left off the 2017 list, for example, are better overall prospects than some of the 2019 selections. Some tough, gut feel-oriented calls had to be made. My apologies to Chance Sisco, Franklin Barreto, Domingo Leyba, Manuel Margot, Zack Collins, Francis Martes and others.
2016 draftees and recent high-profile international signings who have yet to play in full-season leagues were not considered. Players such as Mickey Moniak, Delvin Perez, Jason Groome and Kevin Maitan might yet accelerate their timetables and join those listed below. One 2016 college draftee did make the cut, however.
Without further ado, here are the future breakout rookies.
Impact rookies in 2017
Yoan Moncada 3B, Red Sox: It's likely you've heard of this guy, a high-profile Cuban international signee turned 2016 Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year. He struggled to adjust to his new surroundings early in his pro career and ranked only 97th on my 2015 minor league list. But he upped his game this year and jumped to No. 19. Don't sweat his 50-plus percent K rate in his MLB cameo this season; Moncada is tooled out across the board and projects as an all-around stud in Boston, albeit with a higher risk rate than, say, Mookie Betts or Xander Bogaerts.
J.P. Crawford, SS, Phillies: