Of the yearly awards given out in the TNBL, one of the most overlooked seems to be the Rookie of the Year Award. Often, most players are recognized in their career for few awards and yet, almost as often, ROY award winners seem to be overshadowed by MVP and Cy Young Award winners. While they all aren’t necessarily in line for a Hall of Fame career, these first-year players hold a special place in TNBL history. Here’s a look at the recipients of this award over the past dozen TNBL seasons.
Ian Silcock, RF (Minnesota Twins)
23-year-old Silcock put together a solid rookie campaign in 2028 posting a .305 batting average with an OBP of .340. Not known for his power, he did manage a SLG% of .435 with 5 home runs, 42 doubles, and a league-leading 16 triples.Since then, he has played for Fargo, Everett, Pittsburgh, Italia, and twice with Cloud City. His career has mirrored his rookie season with a line of .306/.348/.415 with 350 doubles, 120 triples, and 51 HR’s. Where he has truly excelled is running the basepaths where he has 699 stolen bases, good enough for 2nd overall in league history.
The 35-year-old recently signed a one-year deal with Italia and will continue with what should be a Hall of Fame career.
Han-Su Pak 2B, SS (Cloud City Sky Pirates)
Pak came into the league at 24 years of age and showed a good plate presence hitting .269/.345/.481. With 37 doubles, 5 triples, 26 home runs, 90 runs scored, and 103 RBI, he was an offensive force to be reckoned with from the start. He also won the Silver Slugger Award and Golden Glove Award for SS for the year. It is interesting to note that aside from a partial season in 2037 with Philadelphia, he has only hit below .280 in his rookie year. He moves into the 2040 season, his first full season with the Cincinnati Roses, after being traded last year from the Vinson Emperors, sporting a .295/.374/.505 line. He is just 58 hits away from 2000 (just the 13th player to ever reach that plateau in league history), 7 RBI away from 1200 for his career (3rd overall), and 40 runs away from 1100 overall (currently 6th place on the career leaderboard). Pak has shown no signs of letting up at the plate and should continue to perform at a high level for several more seasons.
Shuzo Yamaguchi, OF (Cloud City Sky Pirates)
Yamaguchi snagged the ROY trophy at the age of 24 by hitting .274 with 57 total extra-base hits, 82 runs scored, and 89 RBI. In his first five seasons, all with Cloud City, he averaged almost 30 HR per season. Nothing special, you may think, but he did that while missing four months of the 2032 season.
For his career he is hitting .278 with an OBP of .343 and SLG% of .498. His 310 home runs and 1020 RBI both rank 12th overall in league history. He’s not much on speed with only 9 total stolen bases, but in the field he is an exceptional defender. Definitely the kind of everyday player that most GM’s would love to see on their team.
Heading into the 2040 season, the 33-year-old Yamaguchi is still in the spotlight as one of the league’s best offensive weapons.
Manny Cervantes, LF (Washington Nationals)
Have you noticed that Cloud City has produced the last two ROY winners? Cervantes could have been the third in a row for the franchise had he not been traded to Washington in the 2029 season. After a brief cup of coffee in the 2030 season, Cervantes moved up to full time ML duty in 2031 hitting .294. He also showed above average power with 33 doubles and 25 HR’s while scoring 72 runs and knocking in 106.
While his career was relatively brief (6 full seasons), he remained with Washington until his retirement after the 2036 season at the age of 33. Overall he hit .267 with 161 doubles, 14 triples, and 126 home runs.
Cervantes is a bit of a long shot when considering potential Hall of Fame entry due to his short career, but he may see some sentimental value for long time voters should he enter into consideration with a weak class.
Erick Aguirre, 3B (Brooklyn Patsies)
Aguirre was already a well-traveled prospect before hitting The Show with Brooklyn in 2032. He had been drafted by the Vinson Emperors, traded to the Myrtle Beach Mermen, and then to the Arizona Diamondbacks before landing in Brooklyn. He ended the season with a stats line of .260/.339/.372 with 65 runs scored and 58 RBI.
He spent four-and-a-half seasons with Brooklyn before being traded to the Durham Bulls mid-season of 2036. In December of that same year he was traded yet again, this time to the Seattle Mariners. Aguirre has spent the last two seasons with the Baton Rouge Bulldogs. He’s hit just .246 for his career with 267 extra-base hits, including 97 HR’s.
With one year remaining on his contract with Baton Rouge, he will look to try to put together one more exceptional season before possibly becoming a free agent.
Tony Guzman, 1B/2B (Seattle Mariners)
Guzman’s TNBL debut in 2031 with the Cleveland Cannons short-lived as he only appeared in 11 games before being put on waivers. Seattle promptly signed him and gave him more time in Triple A to develop. The end result? Rookie of the Year honors in 2033 with a .301 batting average, .387 on-base percentage, and a .470 slugging percentage.
After another good year with Seattle, Guzman was traded to the Bronx Bombers where he stayed for 4 seasons compiling a line of .253/.366/.436 with 72 homers and 282 RBI. Last season he only managed a .218 average for the Toronto Huskies while hitting 29 doubles and 22 home runs.
Currently Guzman sits at home as a free agent awaiting a call from some TNBL team in need of a veteran slugger. At 35 years of age, that call is becoming a bit less likely.
Ki-Nam Yi, RF (Bronx Bombers)
Yi was drafted in 2028 by the Seattle Mariners and traded to The Bronx before he turned 25 years old. He took home the ROY award after hitting .279 with 27 doubles, 5 triples, and 29 home runs. He scored 100 runs and knocked in 91 RBI while helping his team win their first, and only, league championship.
In his six ML seasons he has 155 career home runs, 481 career RBI, and 283 career stolen bases. His career stat line is .263/.323/.454. Other than a 26-game stint with the Cincinnati Reds in 2033, Yi spent his short ML career with the Bombers.
Yi is another veteran waiting for a call from a team in need of some veteran leadership with a bit of power and plenty of baserunning skills.
Jose Grajeda, LF (Indianapolis TinCaps)
Drafted by the Indianapolis TinCaps (then the Hershey Bears) in 2032, Grajeda made his MLB debut just three years later. The slugger posted a .263 batting average while knocking 43 home runs. He added 30 doubles and 9 triples as well.
In his five seasons with Indianapolis, he hit just .216 with an OBP of .265. The power was apparent from early on as he hit 39 round-trippers in his sophomore campaign, but he never reached a batting average even close to his rookie numbers.
Grajeda may get another shot as he recently signed a minor league deal with the Baton Rouge Bulldogs. What he lacks in contact skills he makes up for with great power potential as well as speed and intelligence on the basepaths. He’s also a great outfielder so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him on a major league squad in 2040.
Orlando Zamora, LF (Fargo Rage)
Another 3-year minor leaguer, Zamora made his rookie debut a year earlier in 2035 but won the ROY trophy for his outstanding play in 2036 when he hit .307/.345/.515. His 46 doubles were among the league leaders and he added 6 triples and 27 dingers for a grand total of 79 total extra-base hits.
His career so far has been exceptional as he boasts a .303 batting average, 175 doubles, 31 triples, and 102 HR’s. He has scored 409 runs and batted in 378. He also possesses good speed on the basepaths and has averaged almost 36 stolen bases over the past four seasons.
Don’t look for this 29-year-old superstar to hit free agency any time soon: Fargo has him locked up currently through the 2043 season.
Jose Duran, SS (Springfield Isotopes)
Duran went through three different team names before being named 2037 Rookie of the Year, although all three were with the same team. He was drafted by the Buffalo Wild Wings, who then changed their name to the Birmingham Barons, where he made a brief ML debut in 2036. Then the team relocated once again and changed their name to the Springfield Isotopes. Duran hit .311 in his rookie year with an OBP of .347 and SLG% of .440. He also showed good speed and decision making on the basepaths stealing 26 bases in 34 attempts.
He held on with Springfield for another solid season in 2038 and was then traded to the Seattle Mariners. While his production dropped off quite a bit after the trade, he is still young (27) and has the potential to bounce back and have several more solid seasons.
While he is considered more of an average hitter than some of the other former award winners, his speed and strong arm in the field will likely keep him in the starting lineup for the foreseeable future.
Ivan Mota, RF (Everett Hawks)
The 24-year-old Mota came into the league in 2038 and simply tore up most of the pitchers he faced. He led the league in batting average with a .341 mark and added a great OBP of .387. Not known as much of a power threat, Mota did knock 14 balls out of the park, but his best attribute (besides exceptional contact) is his gap power. He had 48 doubles in his rookie year, among the best in the league.
In his sophomore year he came back down to Earth a bit, only hitting .304, but he still had 42 doubles and saw his RBI rise from 63 to 93. He also developed a bit more power, hitting a total of 26 homers, almost doubling his rookie mark.
Still heading toward his prime as a player and arbitration eligible for several more seasons, Mota looks like he may be a helpful component of an Everett team on the verge of becoming a yearly playoff contender.
Jop Moerland, 2B/3B (Pittsburgh Pirates)
Our most recent Rookie of the Year recipient hails from Holland and is another great contact/gap power hitter. Moerland hit .314 last season and helped lead the Pirates to the Thunderdome Championship. He doesn’t have exceptional home run power, as noted by his 4 round-trippers, but he does show power to the gaps and enough speed and skill on the basepaths to make him a dangerous hitter.With 31 doubles and 3 triples in his rookie stat line, Moerland scored 83 runs and had 65 RBI. The 25-year-old appears to have a bright future ahead whether he remains with the Pirates or moves on to another team. He has already been a member of the Cloud City Sky Pirates (who drafted him in 2036) and the Italia Stivali (who traded for him and then traded him to Pittsburgh later that same year).
Maybe it’s poetic justice he ended up a Pirate after being drafted by the Sky Pirates?
Rookie of the Year Quick Facts
- No pitcher has won the ROY Award
- No ROY has gone on to win an MVP Award
- No American has won the ROY Award (2 S. Korean, 2 Dominican, 1 Aruban, 1 Japanese, 1 Puerto Rican, 1 Pamanamian, 1 Mexican, 1 Venazuelan, 1 Cuban, 1 Dutch)
- No ROY has lead the league in HR
- Four ROY winners have played in the Thunderdome their rookie season, 1 was MVP of the championship series