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TD Top Prospects: #7 Eddie Rosario

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Age: 21 (DOB: 09/28/1991)
2012 Stats
(RK/A):
.299/.347/.499, 13 HR, 74 RBI, 62 R, 11/22 SB
ETA: 2015
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So far, Eddie Rosario’s minor league career has been largely overshadowed by Miguel Sano.

It’s a common phenomenon with any pairing. One emerges as the fan favorite and the other continues doing valuable if underappreciated work. Maris had Mantle. Oates had Hall. Colmes had Hannity. The guy on the left of Milli Vanilli had the guy on the right of Milli Vanilli.

Having been teammates dating back to 2010 when both players joined the organization, it is Sano who has been grabbing the headlines and basking in the attention of the national prospect junkies. It starts physically where, unlike the imposing physique of Sano which casts a big shadow, Rosario’s six-foot-nothing, buck-seventy frame does not garner as much attention. Nevertheless, Rosario has put together an auspicious start to his professional career – thanks to remarkable bat speed and square contact.

In 2011, he slammed 21 home runs to lead the Appalachian League as a 19-year-old. It had been eight years since someone had socked more than 20 home runs in the short-season league. “Since I was a kid, I’ve always hit the ball hard,” Rosario told reporters prior to the 2012 season. “Now that I’m a professional player, I realize that it’s because I have a really fast swing; I have quick hands, and usually hit the ball on the barrel. I’m aware of that now. When I was a kid, I just knew I always hit the ball hard.”

Evaluators noted that Rosario lacked the speed to continue to play at center field and did not possess the arm for a corner outfield position like right field. Recognizing the pipeline was filled with high quality outfield talent coupled with a dearth of middle infield candidates, the Twins requested that he grab an infielder’s glove.

This transition could be very advantageous to Rosario and the Twins. Without many options head of him, his path to the major may have been shorten – provided he learns the position in a timely manner.

The Good:
Rosario has proven that he is an above-average hitter in his three seasons thus far. In addition to strong numbers stateside, he turned heads while playing in Puerto Rico this winter. In fact, MLB.com’s Peter Gammons tweeted that one general manager rated Rosario as the top prospect within that league based on his performance.

Mechanically speaking, Rosario, who keeps his hands low in his set, exhibits a small, downward hitch in his swing at his load point (he has a north-south load rather than an east-west one). This added movement will likely need to be reduced in order to avoid being exploited but to this juncture of his career, he’s succeeded. More than that, his strikeout totals dropped noticeably – from 20% in 2011 to 16% in 2012 – even while moving up a level. His level swing allows the bat to stay through the hitting zone extremely well and, because of his plus bat speed, he is able to get the ball to jump hard off of the lumber.

The Bad:
Rosario didn’t match the output in 2012 when advancing to the Midwest League, but that was expected. After all, his approach is not a basher like Sano rather Rosario is a line drive, gap-to-gap guy with a high average potential. This trend will likely continue as he graduates to the Florida State League – a place where the heat oppresses the offense – so temper expectation accordingly.

In the field, he will need to make strides at the keystone and grow more comfortable around the base during double-plays and going to his backhand. That said, reports from the fall instruct league were mostly positive. “He made improvements last season, but it’s still a work in progress, since he doesn’t have a lot of experience there,” commented Brad Steil, the Twins’ Director of Minor League Operations. “He’ll need to continue working on all aspects of his defense. His instincts and feel around second base will improve with experience.”

Asked to participate on Puerto Rico’s World Baseball Classic team, Rosario will shift back to the outfield during the exhibition event.

The Bottom Line:
As a high average hitter with good pop, his bat projects extremely well as at second base - a position that has slowly transformed into an offensive-oriented one. Consider this: Since 2000, the Minnesota Twins’ collection of second basemen has produced a baseball-worst .672 OPS. With little ahead of him in terms of middle infield talent, a strong 2013 season could make Rosario one of the organization’s top movers-and-shakers.

[TD’s Top Ten Prospects: #10: Max Kepler]
[TD’s Top Ten Prospects: #9: Trevor May]
[TD's Top Ten Prospects: #8: J. O. Barrios]

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