There hasn't been a newcomer crop like this since "Caddyshack," "Airplane!" and "The Blues Brothers" came out during the same baseball season, and that was 30 years ago.

The list of promising major league rookies includes a former Clemson Tiger (Tyler Colvin) and South Carolina Gamecock (Justin Smoak) and two ex-Charleston RiverDogs (Austin Jackson and John Axford). Plus a Clemson-killer (Mike Leake), the new face of the Braves franchise (Jason Heyward) and -- oops -- a player the Braves never should have traded (Neftali Feliz).

To name a few.

The Rookie of the Year award in the American League looks like a three-man race: Jackson, fellow Detroit Tigers outfielder Brennan Boesch and Feliz, a Rangers closer acquired in the disastrous Mark Teixeira trade who is second in the AL with 29 saves. Smoak (.198, 10 homers) has had to adjust to life on two different teams after a trade from Texas to Seattle.

But the National League has enough talented rookies to form an All-Star team.

There are four ways to rate these NL new guys:

--Popular Rookie of the Year award candidates.

--Deserving Rookie of the Year award winners.

--Top value rookies.

--The best players in the long run.


2. Jason Heyward, Braves outfielder. Kind of like Barry Bonds, in the good ways (.264, 11 home runs).

Most deserving

1. Jamie Garcia, Cardinals pitcher (9-5, 2.53 ERA). Best argument: Two earned runs or less in 17 of his starts.


1. John Axford, Brewers pitcher. A Canadian who played at Notre Dame and signed with the Yankees as a free agent, Axford pitched in 2007 for the RiverDogs, where he was 0-3 with more walks than strikeouts. He didn't blossom (currently 6-1 with a 2.83 ERA) until after New York released him.

The long run

Do you remember Pat Listach, Bob Hamelin, Marty Cordova and Ben Grieve? They won Rookie of the Year awards during the 1990s.

Here are the 2010 rookies most likely to succeed for more than a decade.

Reach Gene Sapakoff at or (843) 937-5593.