Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Chicago Rookie Bonanza

Chicago is experiencing a wave of talented young rookies the likes of which the city has never seen. I'm not an old man, but I would venture to say that very few cities have ever had this high quality a crop of rookies. It remains to be seen whether the youths will live up to their high ceilings of potential, but either way there is a lot be excited about. The cast of characters is exciting:

Geovany Soto, Chicago Cubs (Age: 25): Although Soto came up during the 2007 season, he did not play enough games to be considered eligible as a rookie. In his 2008 rookie campaign, he hit .285/.364/.504. He also hit 23 home runs and won NL Rookie of the Year. The Chicago Cubs have not had a single everyday hitter come up through their system and really stick since Mark Grace, and he came up in 1988! That is 20 years. The Cubs have had a good run of pitching through their system, but no everday players. He not only hits well, but calls a great game behind the plate and has shown he can handle a capable staff with a mix of personality and experience. Hopefully he will be good for years to come.

Alexei Ramirez, Chicago White Sox (Age: 27): Alexei Ramirez, also known as the Cuban missile, was a huge surprise this year. He finished second to Evan Longoria in Rookie of the Year voting this season for the AL. He hit .290/.317/.475 for the year playing mostly at 2nd base. Most insiders believe he will be moving to shortstop in the near future, and he looks to be a force there for many years to come. My only recommendation would be that he eat something. Seriously the guy looks like he weighs 80 pounds.

Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls (Age: 20): This phenom led Memphis to the college championship game as a freshman. After much debate about whether the Bulls should use their top pick to draft Rose or Beasley, Paxson settled on Rose. The thought was that he clearly had talent, but it takes point guards a few years to develop in the NBA. Well Derrick Rose has exceeded all expectations and is having an immediate impact. He is averaging 19 ppg, 5.7 assts and 3.9 rebs per game. His numbers, while spectacular for a rookie, don't even begin to tell the story. He is the leader on the court and has shown an ability to completely take over games as a rookie. He is already a borderline all-star and he hasn't even begun to tap his entire potential. His jump shot was thought to be suspect, but he is knocking them down with regularity. His defense is still raw, but he has all the time in the world to learn and improve. The Bulls' future looks bright again, fans.

Matt Forte, Chicago Bears (Age: 22): What is so amazing about Forte's success this year is the low expectations that people had for him. Drafted in the 2nd round, it was unclear that he would even get that many carries when camp first broke. As soon as he got the nod, however, he was off and running. In his first game ever in the NFL, he reeled off 123 yards and a touchdown against the Colts. Although he has had some mediocre games, his ability to pound out the tough runs up the middle and mix in the speed and instincts to break a few big plays a game has allowed the Bears offense to flourish. With teams keying in on Forte, Orton and the passing game have punished opposing defenses. Forte has already racked up 909 yards and 9 combined TDs and there are still 5 games to go in the season. If Forte is not the favorite for Rookie of the Year, he should definitely be in the conversation.

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