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MLB - Baseball's Impact Rookies

By Andrew Regola
Thursday, July 25th, 2002

From the young age when a player is drafted and developing in the minor leagues, they all try to imagine the first day they will set foot on a Major League field. They don't know if they ever will, and what impact they will make if they do.

Some try to imagine thousands of fans at their feet when their first at-bat is a hit, or even a homerun. Others imagine themselves making a game-saving catch. The odd few don't know that they will become some of the greatest players of their time, and make an impact on the game of baseball, and life itself.

When we were all kids, we all had dreams of our own. Some dreams you achieve when your older, some are forgotten tales you look back on and laugh at. Most boys loved baseball when they were kids, and you remember playing baseball with your neighborhood friends, the fresh-cut grass, the sun beating down on your skin, and looking back on those times make you feel good. Some of you had heroes such as Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and to go with that, stories your dad would tell you of great moments in baseball.

For children of the next generation to have baseball heroes of their own, new heroes have to be made, and those heroes have to be rookies at some point in time. Let's take a look at this year's standout rookies who we could be looking back on in years to come.

National League Rookies

Kazuhisa Ishii

Kazuhisa Ishii gets my vote for NL Rookie of the Year. Although 29-years-old, he is considered a rookie, which in the rulebooks, is the player's first year in the Major Leagues. Ishii currently plays for the third-place Los Angeles Dodgers (trailing the first-place Diamondbacks by three games). Ishii is 12-6 with a 3.36 ERA with 162 strikeouts in 175.00 innings pitched.

Mark Prior

Mark Prior plays for the fourth place Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. In 12 starts, Prior has put together an amazing 3.33 ERA and a great record of 4-3 for his age, 22. Would Prior have a better record if his team gave him good run support? Perhaps, but with the presence of many veterans in the Cubs lineup such as Fred McGriff, Moises Alou, and Sammy Sosa, Prior brings a fresh presence to the Cubs team being one of the few young players there.

Austin Kearns

Austin Kearns plays for the second-place Cincinnati Reds and plays with a couple of talented teammates in Ken Griffey, Jr. and all-star Adam Dunn. With his team trailing the St. Louis Cardinals for first-place by 4.5 games, Kearns has contributed greatly to much of the Reds' surprising success. He leads all NL rookies in the Triple Crown, but then again, all other contending ROY winners for the NL this year are pitchers. Austin bats .285 with 8 longballs, and 39 RBI. He also has an OBP of .381 and SLG of .456. Both Kearns and Dunn were both in Triple-A this time last year.

American League Rookies

Eric Hinske

Without a doubt, I am convinced Hinske will win ROY for the AL. Toronto was blessed by being put in the AL East where the New York Yankees (possibly the best team in MLB history), and the contending Boston Red Sox are placed, as well. The Toronto Blue Jays are currently 18 games behind the first-place Yankees, but where would they be without their rookie third basemen? In 332 AB, Eric has 17 HR, 54 RBI, 9 SB, and an amazing .527 SLG.

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