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National League, Rookie Of The Year

Most underrated players in each MLB division

In a league that is dominated by superstars and up-and-coming prospects looking to make an impression on the game, the game of baseball is spoiled rotten with its talent. Through drafting, signing, scouting, and analytics, franchises are able to make the most out of what they have while staying within their means, financially.

Not every single player on the 25-man roster can be a franchise-altering player, so underrated players need to fill out the remaining spots to make the team click. Regardless of if these players are hometown, drafted and developed, internationally signed or just a product of a good trade package return, players that are not commonly thought of in everyday conversations help make the MLB what they currently are today.

Each division, and each team for that matter has a set of underrated players that would be higher up in the league rankings if they were not overshadowed by other superstars, most of which come from their same teams. While playing a pivotal role for these teams, not gaining expected notoriety for their play on the field is sometimes a blessing, although it can also limit the financial returns these players get if they are not recognized highly enough by their own teams.

With that in mind, here are underrated players across the MLB, one from each division, that plays integral roles in their respective team’s plans to win a World Series.

AL Central

Adalberto Mondesi – SS, Kansas City Royals

In a top-heavy division that has a decent chance of its ruler finally toppling, the American League Central division is one of the more uninspiring divisions in all of baseball in 2019. While the Cleveland Indians have laid ruin over its divisional counterparts for the past few seasons, their cost-cutting moves in the most-recent offseason have left them susceptible to being overtaken in the standings come August and September.

But the division’s most underrated player is on a team that has a very good chance of competing for last in the division… or they can take third, this division truly is a toss-up this season.

The Kansas City Royals boast one of the league’s better young cores, with players like Whit Merrifield, who just signed a four-year extension, and Brett Phillips, who was acquired along with pitcher Jorge Lopez in exchange for Mike Moustakas being sent to the Milwaukee Brewers before last season’s trade deadline. But another player who makes up the core is primed for a breakout year and is much less heralded.

Adalberto Mondesi, the Royals lone shortstop on the 25-man roster, is a solid core piece for the team with tons of potential. While the term potential is often overused when describing prospects in the MLB, Mondesi is different.

In just 75 games last season, Mondesi put up a .276 average, along with 32 steals, and he is off to a strong start already in 2019, hitting .455 in 22 at-bats. Mondesi has the tools to become one of the game’s next premier infielders, and he could see a contract extension thrown his way soon to buy out a few years of arbitration.

AL East

Tyler Glasnow – SP, Tampa Bay Rays

Continuing with the trend of picking players from the less-heralded teams, Tyler Glasnow was a great get for the Rays in the Chris Archer trade at last year’s deadline, acquiring Glasnow along with outfielder Austin Meadows looks like a steal now from the Pittsburgh Pirates, and a deal that the Rays don’t seem to be complaining about.

Glasnow already had big-league experience for the Pirates before being shipping to Tampa Bay, but being only 25 years old, Glasnow has a lot of time to improve upon his stats. Finishing up the 2018 year with the Rays, Glasnow went 1-5 across 11 games with a 4.20 ERA, which are not good stats until you consider the offense that he has backing him up.

Glasnow is a perfect no. 2 pitcher to complement Cy Young winner Blake Snell, and he should pair with Snell quite well for the foreseeable future down in Tampa Bay.

AL West

Mitch Haniger – OF, Seattle Mariners

One of the few bright spots that the Seattle Mariners have left on their team is Mitch Haniger, who lived on through the house cleaning that GM Jerry Dipoto and company took care of over the offseason. The outfielder looks to be the leader of the team’s young core that currently is at the major-league level, and Haniger will be looked upon to help carry this team through a rough upcoming season.

First drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the first round in 2012, Haniger was sent to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Gerardo Parra trade in 2014. Then, Haniger was shipped out to Seattle along with Jean Segura in the Ketel Marte and Taijuan Walker deal in 2016, where he currently plays.

Haniger hit .285 last seasons, belting 26 long balls and driving in 93 while walking 70 times across 157 starts. He is a very toolsy outfielder who does not overly excel in one category but is sufficient and above average in most offensive and defensive categories.

NL Central

Jordan Hicks – RP/CL St. Louis Cardinals

As hard as it may be to overlook such players as Lorenzo Cain from Milwaukee, David Bote from Chicago and Jameson Taillon from Pittsburgh in this category, Jordan Hicks is the most deserving. Owner of the division’s second-best fastball (Josh Hader takes the cake in this category), Hicks is an electric arm for the Cardinals out of the pen.

Only being 22 years of age and currently in his second season up at the MLB level, Hicks has a ton of room to grow, and he will be given that room on a Cardinals team that is looking to compete once again after having a tumultuous 2018 season.

NL East

Ozzie Albies – 2B, Atlanta Braves

The least heralded youngster on the Atlanta Braves between himself, Dansby Swanson and some guy by the name of Ronald Acuna, Ozzie Albies is that key cog in the system for Atlanta that does enough to not get noticed but enough to be very important to the team’s success.

After hitting .261 last season across 158 games and 151 starts, Albies is looking to improve upon his 24 home run, 72 RBI season and make 2019 an even better season. While these numbers are very solid for a second-year player, the now-third-year player has a ton of experience under his belt and he can use any knowledge and experience gained to improve upon his game this year.

In one of the toughest divisions in all of baseball, Albies will need to step up if the Braves want to make it out of the National League East by winning the divisional crown.

NL West

Austin Hedges – C, San Diego Padres

A bit of a surprise selection here to most, but Austin Hedges needs to finally break out of his career-defining shackles that have limited his potential. Even though 2019 marks only his fifth season in the big leagues, that is a ton of time to live up to his billing as one of the better young catchers when he was rising up through the system.

Having been with the Padres for his entire career, Hedges is going to be the defining piece in a team that seems ready to finally compete for a playoff spot in the NL, having added pieces like Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado, plus with the anticipated arrival of uber-prospect Fernando Tatis Jr.

While not seeming like it, Hedges has a ton of pressure on his shoulder in 2019, and if the team does not feel as though he factors into their future plans, they are at a point where they can easily move on and find a better catching prospect if Hedges is not deemed to be that guy.

His offense is what has held him back the most, and with added protection in the lineup every day, Hedges will see his fair share of hittable counts and pitches that he can capitalize on, which in turn would hopefully boost his playing time and potentially play himself into the good side of A.J. Preller and the organization.