This spring there are 640 names on the rosters of the 16 major league clubs. Of these, 225 are classified as rookies, according to a generally accepted definition of the word. A rookie, that is to say, is any player who has not had more than 45 days of big league service the previous year.
Once the baseball season gets fully under way, the total number of places available on the major league rosters is reduced to 400—a limit of 25 players to each team, not counting a scattering of recently discharged veterans who can be carried on the rosters as surplus for one year.
Since most of the 240 players who must be dropped by opening day are rookies, any one of them who manages to survive spring training and remain on a major league roster is an extraordinary fellow indeed. If he lasts through the season, he is something of a wonder. If he blossoms into a star—well, obviously, it's an actuarial miracle.
Yet some rookies do it every year, defeating the laws of probability with the determination of an occasional crocus pushing its way up through a macadam road into the sun. Wally Moon, the St. Louis Cardinal outfielder, wasn't even on the Cardinal roster in the spring of 1954, and yet he did so well that he forced the Cardinals to sell the sainted Enos Slaughter to make room for him. Just last season the unheralded Frank Robinson of the Cincinnati Redlegs, who had been a sore-armed outfielder in a Class A minor league the year before, did much the same thing and ended up, as Moon did, with the title Rookie of the Year. Tony Kubek of the New York Yankees, who is discussed below, may prove to be another of this truly exceptional breed, for he was not on the Yankees' roster when spring training started even though he appears likely to be the brightest of the brilliant Yankee rookie crop.
Of the more than 200 rookies in spring training, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S baseball team focuses on only 10, and of the 10, it will be remarkable if three develop into thoroughly reliable major leaguers. Those shown here are undeniably the eye catchers, the fortunate few who have either the exceptional talent, like Pizarro, or the exceptional opportunity, like Bouchee. This, then, is offered as a scratch sheet. These are the best bets.
JIM LANDIS, LF
This fine defensive outfielder with a strong arm was never noted for his hitting ability (.257 with Memphis last year) but he has startled everyone with his sensational slugging this spring. White Sox Manager Al Lopez hopes that, at 23, the California ex-G.I. has arrived. If so, Veteran Minnie Minoso may be switched from left field to third base in order to make room for him.
BOB ANDERSON, P
At 21 he could become the youngest full-time relief specialist in the majors. A star reliever at Los Angeles last year (12 wins, 28 saves) after one full season in the minors, he will be used in same capacity for the Cubs. Big (6 feet 4� inches, 207 pounds) and strong, his fast ball and good control should be rough on tiring National League batters when he appears in the late innings.
HAYWOOD SULLIVAN, C
This PCL All-Star catcher (with San Francisco last year) batted .296 with 77 RBIs, and with his right-handed power he should find the Red Sox' short left field wall much to his liking. Is polished receiver, has excellent arms and despite his size (6 feet 4 inches, 210 pounds) runs with amazing speed. His aura of confidence could lend spark to perennially underconfident Red Sox.
ED BOUCHEE PHILADELPHIA, 1B
This burly, broad-backed, left-handed slugger has been given Philadelphia's first base job and dared to lose it. Hits for distance (94 RBIs with Miami last year), has excellent eye for strike zone and therefore walks a lot. Pronounce his name Boo-shay.
BROOKS ROBINSON, 3B
Only 19 with but a year and a half of pro ball behind him, he is heir apparent to George Kell at Baltimore's third base. Lean and loose, with average speed and arm, he possesses fast reactions, wide range and gets the ball away quickly. "There's little I can teach him," Kell observed. But having batted only .272 at San Antonio in 1956, the big question is: can he hit in the majors?