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Rob Manfred: Aaron Judge has competition to become face of baseball

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred believes the league is in good hands with a crop of up-and-coming players who have the potential to become the face of baseball.

Manfred believes New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge is “part of a group of young players” — which includes Atlanta Braves phenom Ronald Acuna Jr. — who have the charisma and talent to develop into the most marketable personalities in the game.

“The only problem with identifying any one of them right now is there are so many of them,” Manfred said Tuesday at Wrigley Field ahead of the Cubs-Rockies wild-card matchup, via The New York Post. “I talked about Judge last year. Everybody was all excited about it and then [the Braves’ Ronald] Acuna comes and then [the Nationals’ Juan] Soto.

“It seems like every year we have a new one to add to that list of great young players. It is a very fortunate time for the game in terms of the quality of the young talent that is coming into the game.’’

As Manfred notes in his comments, he mentioned Judge last season as having the potential to become the “face of baseball.” In the midst of Judge’s stellar first season in which he ultimately earned Rookie of the Year honors — not to mention finishing second in AL MVP voting — Manfred hailed the Yankees outfielder as “absolutely phenomenal.”

Major League Baseball has long been criticized for its inability to properly market its star players. In fact, Manfred turned downright defensive earlier this season when questioned about the league’s failure to elevate Mike Trout into the type of superstar that transcends baseball.

Judge, meanwhile, will attempt to remain on the national stage deep into postseason as the Yankees host the Oakland Athletics — and the team’s unconventional pitching plan — in the Bronx for the AL wild card game on Wednesday night.