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Looking back on the 2016 baseball season, we would be remiss to not discuss the budding stars of Major League Baseball.

From the Rockies’ Jon Gray to the Brewers’ Zach Davies, the rookie pitchers really came out to shine this year. Despite the well-earned World Series win by the Chicago Cubs this season, the rookies that shined really came from teams that we can expect to see doing well in seasons to come.

Perhaps one of the most attention-grabbing rookies was Japan-native Kenta Maeda of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Maeda, 28, debuted on April 6 this year, but boasted an impressive 16 wins throughout his rookie season, more than any other rookie pitcher in the league.

Maeda was also named as a contender for Rookie of the Year for the National League, but he lost to teammate SS Corey Seager. Regardless, Maeda has proven his future with baseball is looking bright.

On the other hand, Davies, 23, ended the season with 11 wins, marking an excellent end to his rookie season, and giving him a solid outlook for next year.

Another player to keep your eye on in the post-season is rookie pitcher Michael Fulmer. Fulmer, 23, is a rookie RHP for the Detroit Tigers. With a career record of 11 wins to 7 losses, Fulmer has made a name for himself as a young stud. Fulmer was also announced as a Rookie-of-the-Year contender for the American League and he won the title on Nov. 14, beating out Tyler Naquin of the Cleveland Indians and Gary Sanchez of the New York Yankees.

Michael Fulmer won the 2016 American League Rookie of the Year Award. Photo Credit: Keith Allison

Michael Fulmer won the 2016 American League Rookie of the Year Award.
Photo Credit: Keith Allison

Looking toward next season, there are already some draft picks that fans should keep their eyes on. Padres RHP Yimmi Brasoban was ranked 19th in the Padres system this time last year. Brasoban has been criticized for his control issues in the past, but when he does bring the heat, he really shows up to take out right-handed batters with ease.

Another right-handed pitcher to watch is Yonny Chirinos of the Rays. Unlike Brasoban, Chirinos has not had control issues. In May and June of this year, Chirinos’s strikeout-to-walk ratio was 43/5, showing that his improvement throughout this season has been remarkable to say the least. He is someone to keep an eye on if he makes the majors at some point next season.

While rookies are typically seen as being the most inexperienced or green baseball players on the field, there is a lot of work that goes into their training before they make it to the big leagues. For any parents out there with professional baseball hopefuls, encourage your little ones to practice with their youth baseball bats to work toward mastery. All professional athletes begin at the bottom of the totem pole, working their way up through work and dedication, in addition to their natural talent, to become the stars that they are today.

By practicing catch with your children, they will not only harness the skills required to be serious contenders as a professional baseball players as they grow, but they will also work toward mastery and learn that practicing a specific skill is truly how you can become a successful rookie with a long baseball career ahead of you. Even if your child is not interested in making a career out of the sport, even just engaging in team sports has been proven as an integral part in overall develop as well as encouraging a lifetime of an active lifestyle.

Some of the best purchases you can make for your children as they begin to explore the world of baseball are to invest in a good youth baseball glove and youth baseball bat, giving them the tools to become the baseball heroes of tomorrow. The next Kenta Maeda or Michael Fulmer may be playing catch with you right now.

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