2. Amed Rosario, SS
Height: 6'2", Weight: 170 lbs
Acquired: IFA, 2012, $1.75 million
2015: High-A St. Lucie: 417 PA, .257/.307/.335; 5.5% walk rate, 17.5% strikeout rate
Rosario ranks as the second best prospect in the system today because he is the best defensive shortstop in the organization, and that includes the major league roster. He's held his own with the bat at every stop in the minors while being extremely young for the level every year. Last year he hit .257/.307/.335 for High-A St. Lucie, which was roughly league average, all while being the youngest player in the league. Add it all up, and there is a lot to be excited about with the young 20-year-old.
At the plate, Rosario is an aggressive hitter—he likes to swing—so he is not someone who is going to be praised for his approach. He will have to get by as a hitter who makes a lot of contact, so it's a good thing he has excellent hand-eye coordination and puts the ball in play often. His contact ability plays up due to his plus bat speed, which I can see leading to power down the road if he's able to add some strength. There's definitely room for muscle to be added because he has such a slight build at present, though the ultimate ceiling on his strength may come down to whether or not you think he has broad or narrow shoulders (such an odd thing to see differing reports on). Rosario might need to make some tweaks to his swing in order to maintain his contact ability as he moves up the ladder. He holds his hands high and has some late load that adds length to the swing and makes it a longer path to get the bat to the zone.
You can see why there is projection in the bat when you combine the bat speed, the contact ability, and the potential to add strength. The other part of it is that shortstops do not need to hit much to have value. League-wide, shortstops hit .256/.307/.375 in 2015. The bar is low, and if the defense there is plus the bar can actually be lower, so it's hard to overstate how valuable it is to be surefire major league-caliber defensive shortstop.
Rosario's defense at short is impressive. His arm is plus and allows him to make all the throws he needs to. He constantly makes plays look routine due to his smooth actions and excellent footwork. His range is above average despite being just an average runner. It's hard not to draw the comparison to Gavin Cecchini but going from seeing one to the other, the difference is stark. If you want a visualization of his defense, I encourage you to click through here, or just click here. That's no slowpoke Rosario is throwing out there; it's JP Crawford, who is a plus runner.
Rosario got into a few games for Binghamton at the end of the year when Cecchini got hurt, and that's where I expect he will spend the majority of his time this year. It will be a tough test for him, especially for his bat, and he'll probably be the youngest player in the league yet again. So I'm not sure the breakout with the bat will come this year, but I also don't think he will be completely over-matched. There is a strong possibility that Rosario ends up an average major league shortstop in the not-too-distant future, and there is all-star upside here if the bat develops to its potential.