NL Rookie of the Year odds: Oneil Cruz among late call-ups with elite upside
Some of baseball's brightest young stars have yet to make their big-league debut two months into the MLB season. But a late start doesn't disqualify them from gunning for Rookie of the Year.
Just three seasons ago, Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez unanimously won the honor despite playing in just 87 games. Giants great Willie McCovey only suited up for 52 contests in his award-winning rookie campaign in 1959. And seven full-time pitchers over the last 25 seasons have won Rookie of the Year with fewer than 100 innings pitched.
So, with that in mind, here are the NL Rookie of the Year odds and a few potential values who have yet to make their season debut:
Oneil Cruz, Pirates (+2100)
Cruz is easily the biggest name on this list. He began as the NL Rookie of the Year favorite both because of his ridiculous minor-league numbers and because he seemed assured to start the season on the Pirates' roster.
Instead, Pittsburgh has held the No. 14 prospect in Triple-A, where he owns a .784 OPS with nine home runs in 49 games. That may not sound impressive, but he's hit eight of those dingers in his last 28 contests while posting an OPS north of .900. Cruz is looking like the future star many expect him to be.
There's a ton of smoke that the 6-foot-7 slugger will make his 2022 debut sometime this week, so this may be the last shot to buy his ROY stock at a decent price. If he can replicate his success in his very brief stint in 2021 (1.000 OPS, one homer in nine at-bats), he's got a real shot.
Max Meyer, Marlins (+6000)
The Marlins considered promoting Meyer back in early May before he landed on the injured list with a nerve issue. He threw a simulated game Saturday and could return to action in the coming weeks - but where?
Meyer will likely be in Jacksonville, where he'd spun a 1.72 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings before two bad starts and a trip to the IL. If he can shake off the rust, he's a legit contender to join Miami's big-league rotation, which is elite up top but has been hit by injures as of late.
Meyer was seen as among the most pro-ready prospects when he was drafted third overall in 2020, and he's versatile enough to contribute as a reliever or a full-time starter. The odds are long for a reason, but Meyer could string together a few dominant outings and steal this award.
CJ Abrams, Padres (+15000)
This may be cheating a bit, as Abrams started the year on the Padres' big-league roster before getting sent down in early May. He's responded well in El Paso, hitting .302 with five homers, seven stolen bases, and a whopping 25 RBIs in 25 games.
The No. 6 prospect in baseball recorded a career-high five hits Saturday and is knocking on the door of a second chance with the Padres, who could use another capable shortstop as Fernando Tatis Jr. works his way back into the lineup. Again, Abrams is a long shot for a reason after his poor MLB start, but he's got the talent to shine in a second stint.