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As Rosario Shows, Raw Power Comes In Many Forms

Sometimes, power hitting comes in the package you'd expect. It's easy to see how Miguel Sano produces the strength to hit a ball into the third deck. Similarly, no one wonders how brawny Logan Morrison managed to poke 38 into the stands last year.

But Eddie Rosario? Minnesota's unlikely cleanup hitter doesn't exactly fit the mold.
Image courtesy of Evan Habeeb, USA Today
Rosario had a quiet spring, spent mostly nursing a sore arm, but when the regular season kicked off on Thursday he pretty much picked up where he left off.

We last saw the 26-year-old stepping up on the big stage in October, launching a two-run homer against New York's Luis Severino in the first inning of the AL Wild Card Game to give Minnesota a sizable (albeit short-lived) early lead.

The clutch blast came on the heels of a breakout season in which Rosario went deep 27 times, surpassing his total from 2015 and '16 combined.

In his first at-bat of the new campaign, Rosario lifted a drive to deep right-center field with enough distance to clear the fence. But Orioles right fielder Craig Gentry robbed him with a fantastic play, reaching over the Camden wall to pull it back. Later, in extra innings, the Rosario got into another one, slashing a 1-2 offering from Richard Bleier to the warning track in left, where it was caught.

Though Rosario came up just short in both of his bids for a round-tripper, the message is already clear: last year's power surge, which saw him post a .568 slugging percentage in the final 95 games, was no fluke. It isn't hard to see why Paul Molitor has tabbed Rosario for the key designation of No. 4 hitter.

Sandwiched between top-tier sluggers in Sano and Morrison, Rosario's physical contrast from those two is plain enough to see when they line up for the anthem – while the third baseman and DH weigh in at 250-plus, Rosario is listed at 6'1" and 180 lbs, an explosive bundle of wiry muscles.

While his power did begin to fully manifest last year, its onset wasn't as sudden as that of a Brian Dozier. The tool has been evident for Rosario since he was a teenager pacing the Appalachian League with 21 home runs (he edged his teammate, the prodigious phenom Sano, by one). Rosario slugged .484 in the minors, where he was young for every level. He memorably homered in his first MLB plate appearance and tallied 46 extra-base hits in 122 games as a rookie.

The pop has always been present for Minnesota's left fielder, and while he might not hit the ball as hard as the guys surrounding him in the lineup – Sano ranked 4th in average exit velocity last year, Morrison ranked 116th, Rosario ranked 278th – it's becoming clearer he's got what it takes to eclipse 30 HR.

The combination of innate strength, lightning-quick wrists, and a compact uppercut swing – you can see it in action here on the would-be homer Gentry robbed – turns Rosario into a very impactful offensive weapon, especially when you factor in his uncommon aggressiveness.

Cleaning up in Molitor's lineup is a crucial assignment that figures to yield a great deal of opportunity for producing runs. Brian Dozier, Joe Mauer and Sano all finished with OBPs north of .350 last year. Can Rosario reward his manager's show of faith by delivering?


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8 Comments

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twinssporto
Mar 31 2018 04:32 PM

Nice write up Nick.  You articulated in prose exactly what I was thinking too.  Rosie can hit and has huge power behind his swing.  I remember reading somewhere a number of years back that some senior people within the Twins organization thought Rosario was their best hitter in the minors.

 

Molitor did spend a lot of time with Rosario during the minors and they built a close relationship.  Obviously Molitor is a believer batting him 4th.  On the flip side Molitor had Polanco batting 4th last year as well.  It would be interesting to get Molitors thoughts on the 4 slot.  He does some interesting things with lineups.

Rosario has a hit tool which is just insane and he began to mature as a hitter last year. As an article said, he's learning what he should hit vs. what he can hit. Rosario kind of reminds me of somewhat more athletic Vladimir Guerrero, but with a bit less power. If Rosario can continue to build on his discipline, he could have a great career.

It's probably irrational, but I'm very optimistic about Rosario. If he can continue to improve his plate discipline, his pure talent will allow him to crush the better pitches he will see. I can imagine him as an MVP candidate with 30 HR and .325 average with a few steals and outfield assists catching the eye as well.

 

It's probably irrational, but I'm very optimistic about Rosario. If he can continue to improve his plate discipline, his pure talent will allow him to crush the better pitches he will see. I can imagine him as an MVP candidate with 30 HR and .325 average with a few steals and outfield assists catching the eye as well.

Why would that be irrational?Rosario has the tools to be a very good hitter.The MVP candidate part might be a bit irrational though ;-)

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diehardtwinsfan
Apr 01 2018 10:56 AM

 

Why would that be irrational?Rosario has the tools to be a very good hitter.The MVP candidate part might be a bit irrational though ;-)

If he put up those numbers, I'd think he would be a candidate, especially on a winning team with good defense. I know defensive metrics don't seem to like him, but I don't think they are capturing that. He's got above average range and a strong arm. He makes the occasional boneheaded play in the field, which I hope goes away with maturity. I know people are in love with Kepler here, but I think Rosario is more likely to be a star. If he keeps dropping his swings on bad pitches, he's going to be a monster with the bat.

    • nicksaviking likes this

I like Rosario batting 4th against righties. He has not hit for nearly as much power against lefties, though. If Sano bats 3rd, ideally we need a RH hitter who can protect him in the lineup. Dozier would be my choice to bat 4th against lefties, Rosario against righties.

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bluechipper
Apr 02 2018 12:19 PM
He's not just a pull hitter either. We've seen him hit for plenty of power to left center too. I'm expecting big things from Rosario.
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Kelly Vance
Apr 02 2018 12:31 PM

He goes with the pitch. Sano needs to learn that. 


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