Projecting prospects is extremely difficult. In the case of Amed Rosario, this could not be more apparent. Everybody has been wrong so far, including myself. I ranked him 25th overall in a December update of my top prospect list back in 2016. I had him ahead of Vlad Guerrero Jr., which in retrospect is laughable. Others had Rosario inside their top 5. It might be hard to place yourself in the same state of mind, but I’m not citing examples of those who were aggressive on Rosario, this was the consensus.

Nearly every tool of his projected to be above average, with Rosario’s game power the one skill lagging behind. Some were optimistic even that would develop. What fantasy owners and Mets fans see instead is a player who has been overwhelmed in his first two seasons. The negatives I’ll discuss throughout this column. The positives begin they righty’s age.

At 22 years old, digging for optimism is simple. Historical aging curves suggest players improve until they peak around age 27. Exceptions to this rule, however, can render aging curves relatively useless. Those exceptions over the last few years have been louder than ever thought possible, causing quick dismissal of players once showered with similar praise (see Gleyber Torres and Juan Soto).

On top of Rosario’s age let’s toss out another positive: improvement. The baseline production on Rosario’s line is poor, but it’s better than last season. He cut his swinging strike rate by 5 percent, still leaving him in the bottom quarter of the league. Baby steps are still steps. This brought his strikeout rate down below 30 percent and improved other discipline peripherals, but the league has attacked him largely the same since last season. This is once again a testament to his youth. Rosario is still in the initial stage of adjusting to the league’s first crack at the holes in his swing. The league has no need to continue adapting if his wRC+ sits 20 points below average and he can’t convince pitchers it’s time to move off an amount of sliders elevated above league average.

These holes cast a bit of doubt on whether you can upgrade his present hit tool to average as well (spoiler: you can’t).

Rosario is struggling mightily against both fastballs and sliders. On fastballs, he’s swinging through letter-high pitches that are in the zone. On sliders, it seems to be an issue of plate coverage and simple ability to make contact. The sliders his is missing are concentrated on the outer third, and they’re discouragingly also in the zone. What he is hitting seems to be pitches on the inner third, which isn’t surprising for most hitters, but given the zone of success doesn’t extend to places of importance, like slightly up or out, is concerning.

Compare Rosario to a player like Dansby Swanson, who in the aggregate hasn’t been significantly better than Rosario (85 versus 80 wRC+), but possesses some traits in his zone that might be interesting to see Rosario adopt.

Heatmap of all hits for Dansby Swanson and Amed Rosario, 2018

Swanson’s plate coverage seems to be better than Rosario’s. The caution I have with this matter relates to whether Rosario shouldn’t adjust to try and maintain the hope that he does actually have some average to plus game power hidden in his bat. I don’t think he’ll ever have plus power the other way, so if he does trend towards Swanson’s inside-out profile, it might sap whatever we believe his power ceiling actually is. But for the present state of his development, it might allow him to be substantially more successful on those sliders he is continually swinging through on the outer third. It may not fix his fastball hole middle-up in the zone, but again, baby steps is the only thing needed at the age of 22.

So should Rosario adjust his swing? This is where I struggle most, particularly because of what I was considering in the last paragraph: does Rosario eventually want to tap into more power? His current swing is little bit funky, possessing a small leg kick that strays out over the plate, almost as if it’s helping to close off his front side prior to his swing, which manifests in his tendency to hit the ball to centerfield (42 percent, second highest among qualified hitters). If he allowed himself to open up a little bit more, there is a chance we could see some of the pull power come out, but that would logically make him even more prone to sliders on the outer third.

A balancing act is required to decrease the severity Rosario’s current problems, but at the same time fix his offensive production. This is one of the difficulties with Rosario. I would hope that there could be a power shift to Rosario pulling the ball more in counts where he is ahead and protecting while behind. Most hitters do this naturally, but the results if Rosario went aggressive to his pull side early would be intriguing. This might create two approaches that are too far apart to reconcile, especially for a 22-year-old. It’s surely more complex, but it would also allow him to tap into more power, which would help immensely for fantasy purposes.

Razzball’s Player Rater has Rosario outside of the top .350. This isn’t an ownable player in most leagues, even at a premium position, but history suggest a player this young with reps may be able to reign it all in and become a productive asset. Do I think as everything currently sits, Rosario will be a perennial top-50 player at some point in time? Not right now, but if he’s a 100-150 overall player by the age of 26, I think the industry would consider that a success. Past days of top-5 ranks will always be there to remind us the pedigree Rosario had.

  1. Richard Davis says:
    (link)

    Great work as always Lance. I think Rosario could have an Andrelton Simmons like career at SS, which wouldn’t be so bad.
    Trade question: What is fair compensation for a “Stud” like Aaron Judge? I’m in major contention mode right now in a 20 team keep forever dynasty league. I’ve finished 2nd the past 2 seasons, with a loaded lineup of players like Trout, Harper, Arenado, Haniger, Olson, and Moncada. I also have a pretty deep prospect roster. Now I’ve been offered Judge for T. Trammell, M. Chavis, G. Hampson, and Both my 1st round prospect picks in this years prospect draft. This would pretty much decimate my farm system, but give me a young stud in Judge. Is this too much to give up for Judge? Thanks for the advice/response

    • Harley Earl says:
      (link)

      @Richard Davis: If you don’t make that trade for Judge, you’re a fool. He’s practically handing you a title with all those other players. In fact, how in the world did you finish second with all those guys to begin with???

      • Richard Davis says:
        (link)

        @Harley Earl: I agree, just wanted a 2nd opinion to make sure I wasn’t giving up too much. Chavis and Trammell could both be in the bigs next year, and Hampson is already there, and could be hitting leadoff in Colorado soon, and a threat to steal 30-40 bases. However Judge would make me the clear favorite this year. How did I get 2nd? 5×5 scoring, and my team laid an egg in the finals both the past 2 years, that’s how. Just bad luck in the finals, that’s why even Judge doesn’t guarantee me the ship, but would def help. thanks for the response

        • Lance

          Lance says:
          (link)

          @Richard Davis:
          Agree with Harley, Judge without a doubt!

        • The Harrow says:
          (link)

          @Richard Davis: anybody asking “how did you get 2nd” has never played h2h fantasy sports in their life. you could be a 4-1 favorite (which is rare as shit as is) and still lose. it’s only 1-2 weeks for each playoff round, including finals.

          • Harley Earl says:
            (link)

            @The Harrow: I’ve played for 9 years H2H. The question was a joke, which you obviously failed to understand. You might want to implement some common sense into your reading comprehension.

  2. Harley Earl says:
    (link)

    I studied Rosario for a couple of years and never once agreed with the top 5 or future star label attached to him. He does not have the power bat that everyone suggests he will “grow” into. He never has. His frame isn’t built for him to be a power hitter either. I’ve said it many times, he’s a singles hitter that might hit for a decent average. Yipppeee. I’ve made plenty of mistakes with projecting other guys but the reality of this guy wasn’t really that hard to see.

    • Lance

      Lance says:
      (link)

      @Harley Earl:
      I see where you’re coming from on this. But there were numerous scouts and prospectors, a lot of whom I respect a lot, that said it could get to above average power. His frame isn’t built for it, but from what I understand, his BP hangs with some of the better power prospects in the game, or at least it did during reports from the Futures Game a while back. It’s there, the kid is 22, I think he just needs some time.

      I agree that he’s not going to get to absurd stud status, but I think he can be a productive hitter.

      • Vash says:
        (link)

        @Lance: I agree with him needing time. When he fills out, you can see somewhat of an Eddie Rosario taking place. Very lanky players.

        The Met announcers once in a while rave about his power and the ball jumping from his bat. It seems he needs some time. A .250 defensive shortstop who can hit 10 homers and steal 30 is pretty good. Right now he’s about a 10 homerrun player but room for growth.

        I am not sure why he’s not stealing this year….I assume the MEts are being the Mets. When your team sucks…UNLEASH everything and abandon your very restrictive Money Ball or whatever new term they use now. Rosario should be stealing often and batting first at this point. You are going nowhere as a team and lets see what the kid can do.

        I have looked at about 40 games or so and he seems dynamic. What I am seeing lately is a player who has improved and the ball jumping off the bat. Probably a hot streak but still, very enticing.

        • Harley Earl says:
          (link)

          @Vash: Do you realize you said you believe Rosario will develop into another Rosario? LOL just kidding. I agree with you guys that some time and physical maturation will go a long ways for this kid. I wouldn’t give up on him but I wouldn’t invest highly in him either.

          • Vash says:
            (link)

            @Harley Earl: It took Eddie Rosario till age 27 to break out I think….I could be wrong on his age. I am looking at their body types, and they seem very similar.

            I do not get why SOME people look down on a 21 or 22 year old struggling over a few hundred at bats. It happens….

            In today baseball, a .250 hitter with power is good. A. Rosario doesn’t have the power….obviously…but a 21 year old hitting .250 and playing much better is something to be desired. Say this year he hits 10homers and steals 20…obviously he has to get crazy hot…..that is called a budding star. Realistically, probably like 6 homers and 15 steals.

            But I like what I see….and he doesn’t walk. I listen to how the broadcasters talk about a guy and they all seem to think he has it.

            I think for his age and position, investing is fine. The power will eventually develop and the speed is there……if the team allows him to run….you have a weapon imo, in a league without speed.

            In my keeper, I gave up on Deshields or rather the Rangers gave up….so I am investing in Rosario as my speedster with heavy upside.

            • Harley Earl says:
              (link)

              @Vash: Be careful about listening to broadcasters. They are paid employees of the organization and are paid to spin positively on their players. Very few of today’s media actually take cuts at their own players.

  3. Kruk_Ain't_An_Athlete says:
    (link)

    Slim pickings at SS after I traded off my only guy eligible at SS.

    Camargo, Iglesias, Gyorko, Miller, Beckham, and Swanson.

    I picked up Gyorko for an audition this week.

    Can I get a sleeper pick for a SS this season?

    • Lance

      Lance says:
      (link)

      @Kruk_Ain’t_An_Athlete:
      I’ll go Beckham.

      Off the top of my head, I’m going to guess anybody I like as a breakout is probably owned unfortunately.

      Peraza and DeJong intrigue me, if that helps at all. I don’t mind Kingery if you want to go a little bit deeper too.

  4. Chris Winder says:
    (link)

    I got an offer on the table so how fitting of this post. Amed for Hampson standard 5×5 dynasty.

    • Harley Earl says:
      (link)

      @Chris Winder: I’d take Hampson in Coors. Short-term he’s probably the better bet. Long term, Rosario should catch him.

Comments are closed.