Twins Daily 2019 Top Prospects: #6 Brent Rooker
Age: 24 (DOB: 11/1/1994)
2018 Stats (AA): 503 PA, .254/.333/.465, 22 HR, 79 RBI
2018 Ranking: 7
What's To Like
Power. Rooker’s strong, but it’s not like he’s biggest guy around. Still, his in-game power is drool-inducing. He tied for the Southern League lead in doubles (32) and hit 22 homers in 2018, the most of any Twins minor leaguer. Rooker also led the Southern League in line-drive rate at 26.0 percent and he had the sixth-lowest groundball rate in the league at 34.3 percent, according to FanGraphs.
The real kicker is it took him two months to really get going. Through May, Rooker was hitting just .240/.282/.411 (.693 OPS) in 49 games. He eventually found his footing. Over his final 81 games, he hit .264/.362/.498 (.860 OPS) with 15 home runs, 52 RBI and 48 runs.
The big difference as the year progressed was in Rooker’s strike zone awareness and plan of attack. This is a guy who loves to hit, and can be caught being too aggressive at times. He walked in just 4.9 percent of his plate appearances through those first two months, but from that point forward he posted an impressive 12.7 BB%.
What's Left To Work On
There’s a lot of swing and miss in Rooker’s game, which is often cited as a concern, but the bigger issue may be his defense. Trying him out in left field is a bit of a stretch, but he’s not particularly stellar at first base either. It’s not that Rooker’s some out of shape beer league softball player, he definitely has some athleticism, but there’s just a stiffness to the way he moves. The Twins have given him 77 starts in left field and 55 at first base so far, maybe he would be better off focusing on one position?
Back to the strikeouts, seeing 150 Ks on Rooker’s ledger is certainly eye-opening, but a 26.4 K% isn’t going to cripple his value. The concern, of course, is that rate will escalate as he climbs the ladder. To his credit, Rooker did cut his strikeout rate from 28.8 percent through June (313 PAs) to 23.5 percent from there forward (255 PAs), but that’s going to be an area he needs to continue to keep under control.
While he eventually heated up after a slow start, Rooker cooled off again at the end of the season. In his final 30 games, he hit just .173/.298/.264 (.561 OPS). He was slated to get some more looks in during the Arizona Fall League, but was forced to sit out due to an ankle sprain.
It wouldn’t be a shock to see Rooker back in Double A to start the year, but he should see plenty of time in Rochester this coming season. If all goes well and a need arises, he’s a candidate to make his major league debut sometime in 2019. There’s already a bit of a roster jam at 1B/DH on the big club, but an injury could blow the doors wide open for Rooker’s arrival.
Twins Daily 2019 Top 20 Prospects
20. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B
19. Jorge Alcala, RHP
18. LaMonte Wade, OF
17. Zack Littell, RHP
16. Gilberto Celestino, OF
15. Yunior Severino, 2B
14. Ben Rortvedt, C
13. Ryan Jeffers, C
12. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP
11. Nick Gordon, SS
10. Akil Baddoo, OF
9. Blayne Enlow, RHP
8. Lewis Thorpe, LHP
7. Jhoan Duran, RHP
6. Brent Rooker LF/1B
5. Coming soon
Learn more in the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. It’s available in paperback or as an eBook.