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Meet the Rookies! A Guide to Baseball's Newest Players

Opening day is one of the most exciting days of the regular season. It’s a time when fans can finally get back to their favorite places and pack the ballpark to kick off another great season. Opening day is especially important for young players who get the chance to play at the major league level for the first time.   


Usually, the end of spring training calls for some emotional moments. Some players will get the dreaded meeting with management sending them back down to the minors, while other players will have their dreams come true. In years past, we have seen some of the most heartwarming videos of managers telling their players they made the Opening Day roster, and for these five players, there will be plenty of emotional moments.   


Wyatt Langford (Texas Rangers) 

Meet Wyatt Langford, a 22-year-old outfielder for the Texas Rangers. At the end of Spring Training, the Rangers captured a heartwarming moment between Langford and Rangers manager Bruce Bochy. Although Langford was drafted just last year, he excelled through the minors and was quickly ranked sixth in the annual prospect rankings for Major League Baseball. In the video, Bochy tells Langford that there was never a doubt in his mind that he would make the roster despite just getting drafted last year. Langford is only the second player to debut from the 2023 draft, and he joins a team with very high expectations since they just won the World Series last season.

Photo Credits: Norm Hall / Getty Images 

Jackson Merrill (San Diego Padres) 

Meet Jackson Merrill, a 20-year-old outfielder for the San Diego Padres. After a fantastic spring, the outfielder was invited to travel with the team to South Korea, where his family was able to watch him make his major league debut. Merrill was drafted in 2021 out of high school and is one of the youngest players to make their debut recently. The outfielder excelled throughout his time in the minor leagues and completely skipped the triple-A level before getting called up to the majors. His spring was so impressive that manager Mike Shildt knew Merrill would be making the team weeks before the start of the season, giving him enough time to ensure that his family could cheer him on for his debut.

Photo Credits: Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today Sports

Jackson Chourio (Milwaukee Brewers) 

Meet Jackson Chourio, a 20-year-old outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers. Chourio is the youngest MLB player and the first player born in 2004 to debut. He was born in Venezuela and signed with the Brewers in 2021 when he was 17. As soon as Chourio made the team, he made sure to call his parents, and he was met with immense excitement from his father. Chourio had an impressive Spring Training and made the team before many thought he would. The outfielder spent a mere six games at triple-A last year, and most fans thought he would spend some more time there to develop. Even more impressive is the fact that Chourio already signed a massive extension with the Brewers before he even made his debut.

Photo Credits: Curt Hogg / USA Today Sports

Graham Pauley (San Diego Padres) 

Meet Graham Pauley, a 23-year-old infielder and outfielder for the San Diego Padres. Unlike his teammate Merrill, Pauley did not get the same notice about making the team. Pauley heard the news hours before the team left for Korea, leaving Pauley to travel without any family in attendance. He could not even call his parents since they were sleeping in the Eastern time zone while he was in Korea! Pauley was underestimated most of his career, leading him to be on the roster bubble during his time in college and drafted in the 13th round of the 2022 draft. However, he had an impressive Spring Training and made the team while skipping the triple-A level like Merrill.

Photo Credits: Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today Sports 

Jung-hoo Lee (San Francisco Giants) 

Meet Jung-hoo Lee, a 25-year-old outfielder for the San Francisco Giants. As the son of a former Korean Baseball League (KBO) superstar, Lee was raised with the intent to be a star one day himself. In 2017, he was drafted by the Nexen Heroes and began his amazing career in Korea. After seven seasons, Lee was able to compile an impressive stat line, with a .340 batting average and 515 runs batted in. Lee was a prized free agent this offseason and ultimately signed with the Giants on a 7-year, $113 million contract. 

Photo Credits: Jeff Chiu / Associated Press

Edited By: Sarah Muñoz 

Social Media Content Created By: Jenna Rose Weisenbach

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