After the COVID-shortened 2020 MLB season, we saw the emergence of some bright young rookies as they got their feet wet at the big-league level.
Now, heading into 2021, they will look to have a larger role.
Among the league’s premier rookies, there are some players that could be major contributors to their teams.
Here is a look at the top three rookies heading into the upcoming season.
1. Sixto Sanchez, RHP, Miami Marlins
Sanchez has been a longtime staple in the MLB’s top-100 prospects lists, making it in each of the last five years.
He is a right-handed pitcher with major potential, boasting some of the best stuff in the league today.
The 22-year-old made his debut in 2020, appearing in seven games and giving Marlins fans a glimpse at his potential.
Sixto Sanchez is a FREAK. pic.twitter.com/EaYIJ7jlAc
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) October 2, 2020
In 39 innings, Sanchez posted a 3.46 ERA with 33 strikeouts.
However, there is reason to believe that it is just the start for the young ace.
He features a fastball that can run up to 100 miles per hour, with devastating run that is hard for any hitter to stay on.
This isn’t even his best pitch, as he already has shown one of the best changeups in the entire MLB.
Finally, he pairs both of these with a devastating slider that is hard for any hitter to stay on.
After proving his spot in the majors during 2020, Sanchez will look to solidify his spot among the league’s best in 2021.
2. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates
As far as rookies who had standout debuts in 2020, it doesn’t get much better than Hayes.
He was able to get his feet wet with the Pirates and showed that he may be a future star at the hot corner.
In 24 games, Hayes hit .376 with five home runs, all while featuring above average defense at third base.
Now, with his rookie eligibility intact, Hayes will look to take a further step forward in 2021.
He will become the face of the Pirates’ franchise, acting as the centerpiece in a major rebuild for the franchise.
However, he will likely be a source of pride for fans of the organization.
While his offense was a major boost in 2020, the best aspect of his game comes on defense.
Ke'Bryan Hayes is so smooth. pic.twitter.com/gnDidjnEUV
— Pirates (@Pirates) March 11, 2021
With all of these tools, expect to see Hayes elevate himself among the league’s best.
3. Wander Franco, SS, Tampa Bay Rays
Franco comes in third on this list solely due to the questions around whether he will start the season at the MLB level.
However, his time in the majors is rapidly approaching.
Your No. 1 overall prospect, Wander Franco, in action. 😱 pic.twitter.com/Kqd5OvmE0o
— MLB (@MLB) March 3, 2021
The switch-hitting infielder has been the consensus top prospect for each of the last two years.
He is a super-prospect in every sense of the word, projecting as a future all-star at the shortstop position.
In his professional career so far, he has dominated every step of the way.
At every level in the minors, he has posted a batting average well above .300, along with solid power and steal numbers.
On top of this, he just turned 20-years-old.
While he hasn’t spent any time above single-A, the expectation is that he is on the fast track for the MLB.
This comes following the growing trend of bringing young players up quickly, exposing them to major league talent.
It may take some time this year, but expect Franco to make his MLB debut and become an instant contributor on a competitive Rays team.