The Freshmen Report: Bryant, Pederson, Pompey by Marc Hulet May 4, 2015 The freshmen season is in full swing around Major League Baseball and numerous rookies are making their presences known. At the same time, others are stumbling and already receiving tickets for the first bus out of town back to the minors. Other Pieces: The Freshmen Report: April 23 Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs: Everyone except, perhaps, Mike Olt and his family knew his stranglehold on the third base job in Chicago would be futile. Bryant received the much-anticipated call to The Show in late-ish April and his reputation has certainly preceded him. Pitchers are already afraid of him; they’ve been extremely cautious while h’s been extremely patient — not trying to do too much — as witnessed by his 19% walk rate. He has yet to hit a home run in the Majors but he’s shown everyone why I pushed for him to be the first overall pick in the 2012 amateur draft. He’s a threat to hit 20+ home runs this season and 30+ annually despite his slow start to the power game. Joc Pederson, CF, Dodgers: I wasn’t as quick to warm up to Pederson as a prospect but I jumped on the bandwagon about a year ago once he improved his platoon splits. He clearly no longer looks like a future platoon-mate and, instead, he looks like a threat to develop into a 30-30 (HR-SB) threat despite his lack of base running early on in 2015. The Dodgers have done a nice job of clearing out the outfield depth for the rookie and he’s rewarded them by slashing .292/.447/.646 in 23 games. The one warning sign to his game is the 30% strikeout rate, but he’s offset that with a walk rate of more than 20% and the power (.354 ISO) to warrant the whiffs. Dalton Pompey, CF, Blue Jays: The 2015 season hasn’t been all roses and lollipops for the rookie class. Canadian-born outfielder Pompey won the starting center field gig in spring training but he got off to a slow start to the year and a return to health from fellow Canadian outfielder Michael Saunders sealed his fate. The good news is that Pompey shouldn’t be in Triple-A for too long. The Kevin Pillar bubble will burst once people realize he only walks once a month and that his defense in centre field won’t be anywhere as good as left (Pompey is by far the superior outfielder but makes things look easy). The rookie had some bad luck on balls in play (He hit some hard balls that ended up in gloves) and the switch-hitter’s swing was messed up from the right side (He was swinging around the ball). Look for him to return a better man. Miguel Castro, RHP, Blue Jays: Another Jay on the list, Castro bested Pompey by getting off to a quick start but the lack of a reliable breaking ball and so-so control has gotten the best of the rookie now that the scouting report has had time to filter around the American League. It was always a bad idea to promote two very inexperienced hurlers essentially from short-season ball and Castro probably isn’t long for the Majors. That means the Jays will start to burn his minor league options (He has three) two years before they had to. Anthony DeSclafani, RHP, Reds: Another Blue-Jay-inspired player, DeSclafani was a sixth-round selection of the Jays in the 2011 draft after spending much of his college career in the bullpen. He’s been a revelation as a starter in pro ball and the Marlins stole him as an after-thought to the big deal with Toronto that sent Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle north of the border. Later traded to the Reds, DeSclafani secured a gig in the starting rotation in 2015 and hasn’t looked back. He’s allowed as many walks as hits (11) in 31.0 innings. He looks like a solid No. 3/4 starter at the big league level and the durability has been a plus.