Royce Lewis, SS – The #1 overall selection in the draft lived up to the draft stock, not only hitting well with GCL but then getting an aggressive promotion to low-A Cedar Rapids and not missing a beat. Lewis had more walks than strikeouts (19/17), and his overall line was .271/.390/.414 with 6 doubles, 2 triples, and 3 home runs, stealing 15 bases.
Akil Baddoo, OF – Baddoo was an incredible athlete in the 2016 draft, with many assuming his impressive athleticism was going to take longer to develop baseball skills. Instead, Baddoo showed impressive plate discipline and very polished skills. He played with GCL and Elizabethton, so he had numbers combined between both rookie levels. Overall, Baddoo hit .323/.436/.527 with 19 doubles, 5 triples, 4 home runs, and 9 stolen bases. He had an impressive 36/32 BB/K ratio.
Jovani Moran, RP – Returning from injury, the electric Moran perhaps has found a future dominant home in the bullpen. Moran made 11 appearances, going 3-1 with 2 saves in 11 appearances, throwing 24 2/3 innings, with a 0.36 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, and a 6/45 BB/K ratio.
Others who could be considered
Brusdar Graterol, RHP – Perhaps his numbers weren’t as impressive with just Elizabethton, but combined, Graterol had an excellent season, and the reports on him from both were so positive it’s hard to ignore his performance. Combined, Graterol had a 4-1 record in 10 appearances, 7 of them starts. He threw 40 innings with a 2.70 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and a 13/45 BB/K ratio. While his ERA would have been “high”, his other numbers were as good or better than any other honoree on the list.
Derek Molina, RP – Of course, Moran’s numbers were incredible, so it’s not an argument that Molina deserved the role over Moran, but certainly he was in the conversation with Moran as Molina went from a 14th round selection this year to putting up a 1.08 ERA over 16 2/3 innings with 4 saves, a 0.90 WHIP, and a 3/21 BB/K ratio.