Age: 23 (DOB: 9/28/1991)
2014 Stats (A+/AA): .243/.286/.387, 20-2B, 3-3B, 8-HR, 40 RBI
2014 Ranking: 5
What’s To Like
Rosario’s hit tool has always been his ticket to the big leagues. Entering the 2014 season, he was a career .307 hitter in the minors. Last season saw a dip in his average (.243 over 346 AB) as he struggled to adjust to Double-A pitching after missing the season’s first 50 games. Even with the rough numbers, he’s still gotten on base over 34% of the time during his career.
His quick hands allow him to hit the ball to all fields and he’s shown the ability at times to drive the ball. After heading back to the Arizona Fall League for the second straight year, he shined by hitting .330/.345/.410 with four doubles, two triples, 18 RBI and 10 steals. A few years after being asked to switch to second base, Rosario is back playing as an outfielder. He’s shown the ability to play all three outfield positions and his arm is strong. His flexibility to play multiple positions could help him in the long run.
What’s Left To Work On
One of Rosario’s calling cards has been his aggressiveness at the plate. This served him well in the lower levels of the minors but he’ll need to be able to improve his walk rate to keep his OBP higher as he moves through the system. With other stronger defensive center fielders in the system, it seems likely that he’ll have to play a corner outfield spot in Minnesota. That means he’ll have to show he can hit for power.
This past season at Double-A his home run total doubled (from four to eight) in only 27 more at-bats. However, his slugging percentage dipped by 70 points. Another thing to keep an eye on is the fact that he came back from his drug suspension and for the first time in his career, didn't hit. His AFL numbers offer some promise that he might have come out of his slump but there is definitely some cause for concern.
Rosario will likely be headed back to Double-A to start next season with the assumption that he’ll move up to Triple-A at some point during the year. Minnesota’s outfield situation is a little murky so there’s a good chance he’ll make his big league debut in 2015 after being added to the 40-man roster. In the majors, he could be used at all three outfield positions but it seems likely that he’ll be slotted into a corner outfield role with Byron Buxton the likely center field option.
If Rosario’s personal issues are behind him, he should get his professional career back on track in 2015. He has a great ability to hit the ball and he can use his speed to be an above average outfielder and a threat on the bases. His hit tool might be the best in the Twins system and that should be enough to get him to the major leagues. He might never win an MVP but he could make an All-Star team or two if he continues to progress.