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Top Rookie of the Year candidates

By: Amelia Parreira

There are still over two months to go in the Major League Baseball season, but it is never too early to start looking at possible contenders for the Rookie of the Year award.

Currently the National League holds stronger candidates than the American League, yet the competition is high nonetheless. Here is a look at this season’s most esteemed rookies.

Kris Bryant (Chicago Cubs)

Kris Bryant

A third baseman, Kris Bryant was called up to the majors after spending only 12 days in Triple-A ball. It turns out he is just what the Cubs needed.

Spending less than two years in the minors, Bryant became a star early on, hitting 22 home runs and an average of .355 in Double-A ball. His performance earned him the label of No. 1 prospect in America, as well as the Minor League Player of the Year.

Bryant currently bats .249 and has scored 15 home runs this season. He reached a peak in July, scoring two home runs in his first two at bats in a July 4 game against the Miami Marlins. Bryant brought in six total runs that game.

Later in the month, Bryant experienced his first walk-off homer in his career, granting the Cubs a 9-8 victory over the Colorado Rockies.

If anything, Bryant has only gained more power in August. He shined in the four-game sweep against the Giants, scoring his 15th home run and bringing in three RBIs on Aug. 8.

Billy Burns (Oakland Athletics)

Billy Burns

Though the 25-year-old center fielder only has two home runs in his Major League career, he hits the ball better than most. After 350 times at the plate so far this season, Billy Burns has hit the ball 103 times.

His current batting average remains at .297 with 24 RBIs and 23 stolen bases this season.

Before joining the A’s, Burns was drafted by the Washington Nationals, and spent the 2013 season in the minors, where he batted .315 and stole 74 bases.

Finally he ended that year by joining the Athletics. His .251 average and outstanding offensive performance helped deem him to make a Major League debut in July 2014, where he became a gem for Oakland.

Just returning from the 60-day disabled list the first week of August, Burns still has a chance and will hopefully get back on his hitting streak to surpass other players.

Matt Duffy (San Francisco Giants)

Matt Duffy

This 24-year-old Long Beach native is by far the best this season. He currently holds a .304 batting average and has scored nine home runs so far this season. The third baseman has not only contributed multiple hits per game, but also is swift on defense. The “Duffman,” originally a shortstop, has excelled at his newly-acquired starting position, always quick on his feet to pick up grounders and catch those low fliers.

With a rough college baseball career, Matt Duffy’s game gained great momentum after he signed with the Giants in 2012. After batting .332 and scoring 13 home runs in the Double-A Eastern League, Duffy skipped right over Triple-A ball and soared right to the majors.

Duffy found his spotlight this July. He knocked out three hits to help the Giants earn an 8-5 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on July 11. He also played a major role in a sweep against the Oakland Athletics, contributing three RBIs in the final game of the series, including his ninth home run of 2015.

For Duffy, it only gets better from there. Though the Giants have lacked consistent winning ability going into August, Duffy is playing a great part in keeping them on their feet. On Aug. 5 he went 4-for-5 with a double and an RBI, as well as a stolen base.

There is no stopping Duffy from keeping up the pace.

Chris Heston (San Francisco Giants)

Chris Heston

This right-handed pitcher may be 27, but he has what it takes to become the next ROY. With an 11-6 record, Chris Heston has more starts this season than any rookie pitcher, while keeping a 3.48 ERA.

Like the other contenders, Heston also thrived in the minors as well. Though his record didn’t show it for the first two years of his career, he improved after playing Double-A ball for the San Jose Giants, where he had a 12-4 record and a 3.16 ERA.

In late 2014 he made his Major League debut, and on June 9, 2015 he became the 22nd rookie pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the majors since 1900.

For Heston, anything is possible.

Joc Pederson (Los Angeles Dodgers)

Joc Pederson

This 24-year-old center fielder is the talk of the town. He triumphed in hits early on in the season, smashing out a total of 21 home runs by May and becoming one of the best rookies of the season.

Pederson had a good start in the minors, batting .353 in 2011 as he led the league in RBIs. Two years later Baseball America named him the No. 1 prospect for the Dodgers.

The 2014 only helped his all-star persona increase further as he hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases to make historical records.

Finally making way in the majors, Pederson appeared in the 2015 All Star game and reached the final round, yet lost the title to Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier.

However, his hitting streak took a sharp turn downward soon after. Since late June, Pederson has hit a low of .172, dropping his season average down to .220, and hasn’t hit a single home run. He also leads the league with 115 strikeouts.

If Pederson does not turn his slump upside down soon, it will be highly doubtful that he will outplay Bryant and Duffy for the top ROY spot.

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Amelia Parreira

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