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      AL Rookies.
    As we near the All-Star break, I thought I'd take a quick look at how some of the new arrivals and how they've fared over the first half. Today I'll take a look at the AL, maybe tommorrow I'll take a look at the other half.

    Lew Ford, OF MIN:....273 ABs, 9 HRs, 9 SBs, .315/.382/.487
    Lew Ford is probablly the AL rookie of the year through this point. Part of Minnesota's excess of good young outfielders, Lew stepped in when it seemed most of the Twins roster went down with injuries. As a result, Minnesota hasn’t missed Shannon Stewart a lick, and Ford is showing why it was dumb for a team on a limited budget to give Stewart a 3 yr/$18M deal when you have a perfectly legitimate (and cheap) option already on the roster. The biggest shame is that Ford is 27 already, and just now getting a shot.

    Joe Mauer, C MIN:....74 ABs, 5 HR, .284/.365/.554
    Here's a name you'll all get used to in the next decade. Mauer injured his knee early in the season, which is a very scary injury for a catcher to have at 21. He's going to hit .300 with doubles power that is likely to turn into home run power as he continues to mature. Barring any lingering effects to his knee, Mauer has a good chance to be the best cather in the league very soon, and for many years to come.

    Zack Greinke, SP KC:....8 GS, 50.3 IP, 33/9 K/BB, 3.58 ERA, 1.05 WHIP
    Greinke was probablly the best, major-league-ready pitching prospect going into the year. He was called up on May 22nd and has pitched pretty well (and much better than the record would suggest) despite a very low strikeout rate. Greinke never really was a big time strikeout guy in the minors, but with his pinpoint control he has succeeded so far. He's a very good bet to continue to do so. Look for him to pitch the next 3-5 years in Kansas City and then sign with the Yankees in his free agency year.

    Shingo Takatsu, RP CHW:....28 G, 30.3 IP, 21/7 K/BB, 1.19 ERA, 0.73 WHIP
    Mr. Zero not only has the coolest nickname in the bigs, but has also pitched extremely well for the White Sox. Has made Billy Koch expendable, although I would argue that Billy Koch has been expendable on his own for several years now. He's a 35 year old "rookie" so he better try and turn this performance into a nice contract before he goes the way of Tony Castillo.

    Bobby Crosby, SS OAK:....253 ABs, 11 HRs, 4 SBs, .277/.337/.482
    Oakland didn't bat an eye when Miguel Tejada left in free agency. They knew Crosby could at least play to a replacement level this year, and there was the chance he might be as good as Tejada. Crosby isn't that good yet, but it looks like he might be soon. He is striking out a lot, but the flashes of power pretty much show that Crosby is here to stay.

    Alexis Rios, CF TOR:....118 ABs, 0 HRs, 1 SB, .254/.307/.331
    Since nobody pays attention to what the heck is going on in Toronto these days, I'll fill you in. They're bad. There's not much positive they can take from this season, but at least they do have a young team with a lot of potential. That’s something Seattle could only dream for. Alexis Rios is part of that future for Toronto. He has replaced the injured Vernon Wells, and while he isn't quite ready for the bigs, eventually (maybe as early as next year) Rios will be pushing Wells to a corner outfield spot. Rios has shown in his brief time that he can hit big league pitching, now its just a matter of whether his power will develop. He's a funny kid to look at, as he's 6'5" and doesn't even crack 200 lbs. He's only 23, so if he ever fills out the power may come and make Rios a very good ballplayer.

    Chad Gaudin, SP/RP TB:....18 G, 4 GS, 30.3 IP, 23/11 K/BB, 4.45 ERA, 1.68 WHIP
    If nobody is paying attention to what is happening in Toronto, I know nobody is paying attention to what is happening in Tampa Bay. Chad Gaudin pitched mainly in relief last year (and pitched well: 3.60 ERA in 40.0 IP). Tampa Bay recently moved him into the rotation, and its not often you see a 21 year old kid be able to hold his own against big league hitters. Usually it raises some eyebrows when they do, but not Gaudin, he pitches in Tampa Bay. If you look a little closer you'll see that Gaudin also destroyed minor league hitters, so it shouldn’t come as that much of a shock. But, he does pitch for Tampa Bay.

    Doug Waechter, SP TB:....9 GS, 50.7 IP, 23/18 K/BB, 4.97 ERA, 1.22 WHIP
    With Doug Waechter, Tampa Bay actually has two pitching prospects. Pretty amazing isn't it? Both have been rushed to the big leagues because, well, they pitch for Tampa Bay. Waechter has at least held his own, and could turn into a decent middle of the rotation guy. With Waechter and Gaudin, Tampa Bay could have 2/5 of a pretty decent rotation to help out the young bats that will soon include Delmon Young and B.J. Upton. I'd say things were looking up for the Devil Rays who still sit in THIRD place, but again, it’s the Devil Rays.

    Kevin Youkilis, 3B BOS:....117 ABs, 3 HRs, .299/.399/.453
    Well, "The Greek God of Walks" hasn’t sold any jeans this year, but he's sure done his best to prove he belongs in the bigs. He hasn’t let his nickname down either with 18 walks in 117 ABs. Youkilis was supposed to spend a full year and be ready for 2005. When the man he was supposed to replace, Bill Mueller, went down with a knee injury, Youks got his chance. He has played well enough even to stay in the lineup even after Mueller returns. Whether or not he sticks in the bigs this year, Youkilis will be at third for the Red Sox next year and for many years after.

    Eric Bedard, SP BAL:....13 GS, 63.3 IP, 48/36 K/BB, 3.69 ERA, 1.59 WHIP
    We knew going into the year that Baltimore's rotation was going to be Sidney Ponson and four kids. We just didn’t know which kids. Baltimore's current cellar dwelling position is a result none of their young pitchers producing anything meaningful. Kurt Ainsworth got hurt, Matt Riley and Eric DuBose both sucked up the joint, then both got hurt. Bedard and Cabrera have been what Ainsworth, Riley and DuBose were supposed to be. Neither has been all that effective, but they've at least given Oriole fans a reason to look forward to next year. Bedard has pitched pretty well, especially lately, after struggling with some wildness early. If he can cut down on the walks, Bedard could turn into a solid starter.

    Daniel Cabrera, SP BAL:....10 GS, 63 IP, 27/28 K/BB, 3.29 IP, 1.29 WHIP
    Cabrera is an interesting case. He started the year in AA and has pitched well for the desperate Orioles since being called up, including a complete game win against the Braves. He keeps the ball down, getting a lot of ground balls, and could continue the success, just like Brandon Webb last year. Then again, the league could catch up to him and that tiny K-rate and knock him all the way back to AA where he most likely belongs.

    Jason Frasor, RP TOR:....30 G, 34.3 IP, 26/15 K/BB, 1.83 ERA, 1.08 WHIP
    This former Southern Illinois Saluki has pitched very well for the Blue Jays, providing a night-light of sorts in the black hole that has been Toronto's bullpen. Frasor throws gas, but has never been mentioned as a "prospect". Most of that is due to his relief pitcher status, but he has pitched well enough to get moved into Toronto's closer role, although he could have pitched like Kurt Knudsen and probablly still got the nod in that mess.

    Later guys, NL Rookies this weekend sometime.