10 MLB Rookie of the Year candidates for 2015

2015 MLB Opening Day: MVP Predictions

Spring Training is a wonderful time of the year. All 30 Major League Baseball teams are optimistic that the moves they made over the off-season put them in position to not only be competitive over the course of the 162 game schedule, but there's hope that each and every team has what it takes to make it to the World Series.

10 mlb rookie of year candidates 2015
See Gallery
10 MLB Rookie of the Year candidates for 2015

Left-Handed Pitcher, Toronto Blue Jays

2014 Statistics: 0-0, 5.40 ERA, 5 G, 1 GS, 4 K, 5 BB, 6.2 INN with Toronto. 12-2, 2.53 ERA, 26 G, 25 GS, 163 K, 43 BB, 124.2 INN combined AAA/AA/A.

One of a half dozen rookies expected to open camp with the Blue Jays, lefty Daniel Norris will be one of two in Toronto’s starting rotation at the beginning of the season. Currently most famous for living in a van during the off-season, Norris is one of the top left-handed pitching prospects in the game.

He began the 2014 season with High Class-A Dunedin of the Florida State League, and dominated to the tune of a 6-0 record and 1.22 ERA with 76 walks in 66.1 innings across 13 starts. That performance earned Norris a promotion to Double-A, where he struck out 49 hitters in 35.2 innings before being sent to Triple-A Buffalo. After just five starts with the Bisons, Norris earned a September call-up.

The 21-year-old uses a low-90s fastball, quality slider and mixes in a change-up and slow curveball to keep hitters off balance. It worked well in 2014 as Norris’ 163 strikeouts were the fifth most among all minor leaguers. This spring he is 2-0 with a 2.41 ERA with 21 K’s and only four walks in 18.2 innings spread across five starts. 

With a starting spot locked up, Norris should get a jump on most of his AL Rookie of the Year competition.

(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Even the Chicago Cubs (and this year, especially the Chicago Cubs).

Part of the Cubs' renewed sense of optimism is a minor league cupboard stocked full with some of the top prospects in the game. Jorge Soler and Javier Baez got their feet wet in the big leagues last season while Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, C.J. Edwards and others are knocking on the doorstep.

Despite being sent back to Triple-A Iowa Monday, Baez is no longer a rookie because he saw action in 52 Major League games in 2014 in which he had 213 at bats. However, the rest of the aforementioned group is eligible for – and some are among the favorites to win – the Rookie of the Year Award in the National League.

As the winners of the 2014 awards can attest, there are multiple routes to becoming Rookie of the Year. Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, a veteran free agent from Cuba, slugged his way to the trophy with 36 home runs and 107 RBI in 146 games, including a start on Opening Day.

Abreu was 27 years old and the top prospect in the White Sox system when he made his debut, and was a big name before he ever played in a Major League game.

On the other hand, right-handed pitcher Jacob deGrom was just the tenth ranked player in the Mets system in 2014 according to Baseball America. He was sent to minor league camp after four appearances in the spring of 2014 and made seven starts in Triple-A before earning a call-up to the big leagues in May.

In a farm system stocked with young flamethrowers, deGrom was often overshadowed as a 9th round draft pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. Still, as a 25-year old rookie, he posted a 9-6 record and 2.69 ERA in 22 starts to rise to the top of the 2014 rookie class in the NL.

Whether a player signed a huge contract as an International free agent like Soler or Abreu, was a first round pick like Baez or Bryant, or even an under the radar prospect like deGrom, like 30 teams with World Series hopes, there's a large crop of aspiring big leaguers with their eyes on the prize that is the Rookie of the Year award.

More on AOL
Sports potw 3/30 - no march madness
See Gallery
10 MLB Rookie of the Year candidates for 2015
UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 24: Jaroslav Halak #41 of the New York Islanders lies on the puck as action swirls around him during the second period against the Minnesota Wild at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on March 24, 2015 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
SHANGHAI, CHINA - MARCH 25: Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada performs during the Ice Dancing-Pairs Short Program on day one of the 2015 ISU World Figure Skating Championships at Shanghai Oriental Sports Center on March 25, 2015 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang - ISU/ISU via Getty Images)
KEY BISCAYNE, FL - MARCH 25: Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium serves to Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland during day 3 of the Miami Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 25, 2015 in Key Biscayne, Florida. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 25: Derrick Favors #15 of the Utah Jazz shoots against the Portland Trail Blazers on March 25, 2015 at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 24: Filip Forsberg #9 of the Nashville Predators high-fives assistant equipment manager Jeff Camelio before warmups against the Montreal Canadiens at Bridgestone Arena on March 24, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 24: Jared Boll #40 of the Columbus Blue Jackets throws a punch against Clayton Stoner #3 of the Anaheim Ducks during the second period on March 24, 2015 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
AARHUS, DENMARK - MARCH 25: Greg Garza of United States in action during the International Friendly match between Denmark and Unites States at NRGi Park on March 25, 2015 in Aarhus, Denmark. (Photo by Lars Ronbog / FrontZoneSport via Getty Images)
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 26: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white) A competitor jumps in the Decathlon Mens High Jump during the Australian Athletics Championships at the Queensland Sports and Athletics Centre on March 26, 2015 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO - MARCH 28: Tyra Izor jumps to third place in the ladies' aerials at the 2015 U.S. Freestyle Ski National Championships at Steamboat Ski Resort on March 28, 2015 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MARCH 28: Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers allows a goal by Milan Lucic #17 of the Boston Bruins in the first period at the TD Garden on March 28, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
VARS, FRANCE - MARCH 28: French athlete Eric Barone, 54 years old, rides his bike before he breaks the World Speed Record by bike with a maximum speed recorded at 223,30 Km/h on March 28, 2015 in Vars, France. (Photo by Richard Bord/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 27: DeMarre Carroll #5 of the Atlanta Hawks reaches for a steal against Luol Deng #9 of the Miami Heat at Philips Arena on March 27, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
SEVILLE, SPAIN - MARCH 27: Rusian Rotan of Ukraine goes for a high ball againsy Juanfran of Spain during the Spain v Ukraine EURO 2016 Qualifier at estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on March 27, 2015 in Seville, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Related links:
5 reasons the Colts are Super Bowl contenders
5 best potential NBA playoff matchups
10 best Premier League celebrations

For more sports coverage, please visit FanSided.com.
Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.