If Baseball America had chosen its Rookie of the Year on Sept. 1, it would have been a three-player race. White Sox outfielder Luis Robert and Mariners outfielder Kyle Lewis seemed locked in a back-and-forth battle for rookie supremacy.
Robert was ranging far and wide to make catches all over the outfield and also was one of the best hitters in the game. At the end of August, Robert was hitting .298/.348/.612 with 10 home runs in 33 games.
Lewis was hitting just as well. While not as rangy as Robert, Lewis was robbing home runs and holding down center field. He was hitting .328/.418/.527 with eight home runs in 36 games.
And if either of them slipped, Padres second baseman Jake Cronenworth was also lighting up box scores. He was hitting well and showing the versatility to play anywhere on the infield. On Aug. 31, Cronenworth was hitting .356/.411/.624.
So how did we end up not picking any of that trio as our Rookie of the Year? September offered a reminder of why we like to have the totality of a season to pick a winner.
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Over the past few years, the Indians have mined the Northeast for talent. The 2020 team got big-time contributions from former college righthanders Aaron Civale (Northeastern) and James Karinchak (Bryant). Waiting in the wings are three more prospects from the region, all from high school: third baseman Nolan Jones (Bensalem, Pa.), catcher Bo Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) and righthander Lenny Torres (Beacon, N.Y). All five of those players were signed by area scout Mike Kanen, a former Baseball America intern. BA recently spoke with Kanen about his first impressions of those players. The interview is edited for brevity.
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