The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
An early look at the new crop of up-and-comers

Each season there’s a new group of young players who start to realize their potential in the majors. Some of them were high draft picks that were expected to reach the majors quickly. Others are relatively unknown international players who have risen to the majors on grit and determination. Then there are players who split time between the big league and minor leagues, before claiming a permanent job.

Sure, it’s still early in the season, but these are some names to watch for the balance of this year.

Jared Kelenic (Mariners OF) was a first-round pick of the Mets in 2018. He was traded to the Mariners after the 2018 season in the deal that brought Robinson Cano to the Mets. After two mediocre seasons with the Mariners in 2021 and 2022, he appears to have solved major-league pitching with 10 home runs and 25 RBIs in 45 games. He pairs well with teammate Julio Rodriguez, last year’s AL Rookie of the Year.

Bryce Miller (Mariners SP) has had a fantastic major-league debut with three wins in five starts. His ERA is 1.15, while posting a WHIP of 0.511. The 24-year-old has been a pleasant surprise as a replacement for Robbie Ray, who is on the permanent injured list.

Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2019, Yennier Cano (Orioles RP) is in only his second major-league season, appearing in only 13 games last season with the Twins and Orioles. In his 29.2 innings pitched as a reliever this season, he’s yielded only one walk while averaging 10 strikeouts per 9 innings. The opposition is batting only .126 against him.

Cano’s catcher Adley Rutschman (Orioles C) is proving he isn’t a one-year-wonder. After finishing last season in second place for AL Rookie of the Year Award, he has an impressive slash line of .276/.402/.441, with 8 HRs and 26 RBIs. He’s one of the main reasons the Orioles are in second place.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Felix Bautista (Orioles RP) has assumed the full-time closer role for Baltimore in only his second major-league season. He has 12 saves, while compiling a 1.44 ERA and recording 50 strikeouts in 25 innings pitched.

Masataka Yoshida (Red Sox OF) was a veteran player in Japan whom Boston signed in December 2022 to a five-year, $105.4 million contract. He’s proved to be solid addition in their outfield, with a slash line of .297/.371/.471, 6 HRs and 29 RBIs. He had a banner day on April 23, when he collected 2 HRs and 6 RBIs.

Riley Greene (Tigers OF) was the fifth overall pick of the 2019 draft. He made his major-league debut with the Tigers in 2022 and is one of the main reasons the Tigers currently hold second place in the AL Central this year. He’s currently slashing .295/.359/.437, with 5 HRs and 19 RBIs. He boasts a .405 batting average on balls in play (BAbip).

Alex Lange (Tigers RP), a first-round pick from LSU in 2017, has become a mainstay in Detroit’s bullpen. He’s being used in a closer role this season, where he’s collected 9 saves in 13 games finished. He’s sporting a 1.27 ERA and impressive .098 WHIP.

Josh Lowe (Rays OF) is having a breakout year with Tampa. The brother of Texas Rangers first baseman Nathaniel Lowe, Josh has 11 HRs and 36 RBIs for the Rays, who lead the American League in home runs. Lowe was a first-round pick of the Rays in 2016. He’s currently at 170 OPS+.

Eli Morgan (Guardians RP) is proving to be solid middle reliever in his third season with Cleveland. In 17 appearances, he has a 1.71 ERA and has walked only 4 batters in 21 innings. He’s claimed two wins against no defeats.

Hunter Brown (Astros SP) has filled in admirably in Houston’s starting rotation after the loss of Jose Urquidy and Luis Garcia to injuries. He currently has a 5-1 record in 10 starts. With an ERA of 3.12, he’s averaging 10 strikeouts per nine innings.

Brent Rooker (A’s OF/DH) is in his fourth big-league season, but he’s never played more than 58 games in a season. He’s having a breakout season in 2023 with 11 HRs and 32 RBIs in 47 games. He is the lone bright spot on a very weak A’s team. He’s currently eighth in the AL with an .893 in OPS. Rooker was a first-round pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2017.

Bryce Elder (Braves SP) is making his case for taking the top spot in Atlanta’s starting rotation. With starters Max Fried and Kyle Wright out due to injury, Elder stepped in and leads the NL in ERA (2.01). His ERA+ is 220, tops in the NL. With only 10 games under his belt prior to this year, he has become a nice complement to starter Spencer Strider, who was last year’s runner-up for NL Rookie of the Year.

Francisco Alvarez (Mets C) won the starting job as New York’s catcher in only his second major-league season. (He played in only five major-league games last year.) The 21-year-old Venezuelan native is slashing .273/.333/.545, with 7 HRs and 16 RBIs.

Lefty pitcher Justin Steele (Cubs SP) has been a pleasant surprise for a mediocre Chicago team. He is 6-2 in 11 starts, posting an impressive 2.77 ERA. He is seventh in WAR for pitchers (1.8).

Second-year second baseman Nolan Gorman (Cardinals 2B/DH) has been the best player for St. Louis this season. He currently leads the NL in slugging percentage (.583), based on 11 HRs and 10 doubles. He is second in RBIs with 40.

As a frequent leadoff hitter, TJ Friedl (Reds, OF) is leading Cincinnati with a .326 batting average, which places him eighth in the NL. He had been a part-time player for the Reds in 2022, batting only .240.

James Outman (Dodgers, OF) is considered one of the leading candidates for NL Rookie of the Year. Unproven at the big-league level before this season, he stepped up as the Dodgers centerfielder, when teammate Chris Taylor was forced to play multiple positions because of injuries to other starters. He currently has 9 HRs and 28 RBIs.

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