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2011 AL Rookie of the Year

The Rookie of the Year award is often a surprise as teams call up players during the season due to injuries. Unless the rookie is highly touted, the winner of the annual prestigious award easily could be a dark horse candidate. Here is a look at a few of the candidates for the award.

Desmond Jennings -- Tampa Bay Rays
Jeremy Hellicson -- Tampa Bay Ra

Rays manager, Joe Maddon once said, "When I took the job with the Rays, everybody said, you're nuts trying to compete against the Yankees and the Red Sox. How are you going to compete? Do you want to move to another division? Maddon replied, "No I don't want to move. You've got to beat the best to be the best" One way he climbed to the top and has his franchise equal to the Yanks and the Sox is thru tough scouting and aggressive drafting.

The Rays now have two very strong prospects, one outfielder and the other a right handed pitcher who will help their team after the mass exodus of Crawford, Pena, Soriano, Benoit, Hawpe and many others.

Jennings has all the usual ingredients: Speed, fielding, batting. He also, now has the starting job with the departure of Cral Crawford. Jennings displays cartoon like running when speeds around the bases, he has potential to win Gold Gloves with his skills in the outfield and he is very good at hitting the gaps. His OPB will be high and with his speed should rack up a plethora of steals. I am positive voters will take notice of this young man this season.

My other pick for Rookie of the year is another Tampa Bay Ray, Jeremy Hellickson. If nothing else, you have to dig that last nameā€¦ a name that incites fear. Hellickson has enormous potential.

He was the 2009 Triple-A Baseball National Championship MVP, and in 2010 was awarded Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year, named International League Most valuable Pitcher and was USA Today's Minor League Player of the Year. In '10 he started 4 games, lost 0 and had 33 K's and his WHIP was just .06 points behind the league leader. Potential is written all over this kid and he should quickly go from No. 5 and No. 2 starter in no time. While the candidates for this award will change throughout the year, the Tampa Bay Rays will start the year with two front runners for the award.