Recap: To view who has already been featured in my series, “Bright Futures”, click on the links below to read up on numbers 7-10.
- Max Kepler (link to article)
- Kyle Gibson (link to article)
- Jose Berrios (link to article)
- Trevor May (link to article)
What do a 38-year-old from Evansville, Indiana and a 28-year-old from San Cristobal, Dominican Republic have in common? Collectively, they are the reason why the Minnesota Twins are still looking for an answer at second base this offseason. Jamey Carroll and Alexi Casilla played the majority of the time at second base last year, and although they were able to make some slick fielding plays – especially Casilla, never have I seen a player make the hard plays look easy and the easy ones look like calculus homework – their bats are just not serviceable in the majors any longer. Carroll has a watchful eye, at least, and was able to salvage a .343 OBP, but Casilla’s dismal .282 OBP warranted a much needed face to replace the not-so-dynamic duo at the two-bag. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce to you, Sr. Eddie Rosario.
Eddie Rosario is a 21-year-old from Puerto Rico who the Twins drafted in the 4th round of the 2010 MLB Draft. He is listed as 6’0″ 170 lbs. but with room to add on some weight to his frame. Rosario was drafted as an outfielder originally, but because of his size and the glaring need of middle-infield help in their system, the Twins began his transition to second base last year in his first full season of professional ball. The move to second base makes sense: the Twins are very thin in projectable middle-infielders, Rosario is a little too small to stick in the outfield – especially since Byron Buxton and Aaron Hicks will be roaming the outfield – and because of his offense, Rosario can be an excellent offensive-minded second baseman at the Major League level, i.e. Robinson Cano. By no means am I comparing Rosario’s skill-set to Cano’s, but there is no other player that best fits the ideology of being an offensive-minded second baseman like Cano does… oh, he also wins Gold Gloves seemingly every season, but that doesn’t count for this example. A more realistic comparison of what Rosario could bring to the table would be the potential Dustin Ackley has for the Seattle Mariners. Ackley has some pop off the bat, should carry a good slugging percentage, can swipe a base when asked to and is a serviceable fielder. He likely will not win any Gold Gloves, but he makes the routine plays and most of the time that is all you need to do.
The idea of an everyday second baseman like Dustin Ackley, or potentially a Robinson Cano, in the Twins lineup is a dream come true for Twins fans and ownership alike. Eddie Rosario could very well be the long-term answer if he keeps on raking in the lower levels of the minors. His current career slash line of .310/.362/.538 is well above the Major League average for a second baseman, and would rank 2nd in every category behind Cano if you compare his career slash with last year’s second basemen results. Of course he is doing his work against much lesser pitching, but it still means Rosario is ahead of his competition, which is an excellent sign moving forward. His power numbers are also quite surprising for someone of his stature, posting 39 home runs in 3 seasons, with 12 coming in his first year at Beloit. His scouting report on the Twins Top 20 prospects at MLB.com describes his abilities quite well:
He can flat-out rake, with excellent bat speed, a good approach and more pop than many expected. He has very good speed and should be able to put it to even better use as he learns the game
Rosario has strong wrists and forearms which enable him to get the bat-head out in front quickly. Because of his bat speed, he also gets a longer look at pitches as the ball travels towards the plate resulting in more walks and a keen eye at the dish.
Regardless of his offensive prowess, Rosario will have to log some hours practicing his defense to make it a non-issue for when his bat is ready for Target Field. He committed 15 errors in 67 games at second base last season, which translates to about 36 errors in a 162 game season, exactly twice as many as Texas Rangers second baseman, Ian Kinsler had and he led the MLB in errors with 18. Those numbers are a bit concerning for the young Dominican, but reports have mentioned how hard Rosario works at his defense so it will not become a liability, more like a strength as he matures.
Projection: Eddie Rosario is student of the game. He goes up to the plate with a plan in his head for each at-bat and that trait does not usually arrive until after a few more years of experience. With his quick bat speed, Rosario has sneaky-power to all fields and excellent gap power. His ability to hit for average will be key to his success in the majors, combine that with his watchful eye at the plate and he has the makings to be an OBP machine. He has speed to burn as well, he will not be a bona fide base-stealer – a la Ben Revere – but you can expect in the range of 20-25 consistently and perhaps more if taught to read pitchers well. Let’s hope he can cut down on the errors and become solid at second base, he does not have to be amazing because his bat will warrant him playing every day, but if he can get his defense solid then the skies the limit. I expect Rosario to grace us with his talents in Minnesota in September of 2014, and I do not doubt he will get a shot at Spring Training to win the position out of camp if he keeps raking in the minors. Once he makes it to Minnesota, he would fit well in the No. 2 slot in the order. Even if his power continues to develop, I do not see him hitting in the middle of the lineup with other prospects like Miguel Sano, Oswaldo Arcia, and Travis Harrison still having more power, and regulars like Joe Mauer and Trevor Plouffe who will presumably be entrenched in the Twins lineup as these young guns make their way up the ranks. I am looking forward to Rosario’s 2013 campaign as he’s expected to make his way to Double-A New Britain after starting the year in Cedar Rapids, IA; and who knows, perhaps he can hit his way to Triple-A Rochester by the end of the season.