1. Amed Rosario, SS
Height: 6’2” Weight: 190 lbs.
DOB: 11/20/1995 (21)
Acquired: IFA, 2012 (Dominican Republic)
2016: High-A (St. Lucie): 66 G, 290 PA, .309/.359/.442, 3 HR, 13/19 SB, 12.3 strikeout rate, 7.2 walk rate / Double-A (Binghamton): 54 G, 237 PA, .341/.392/.481, 2 HR, 6/8 SB, 21.5 strikeout rate, 8.0 walk rate
When Amed Rosario was signed in 2012 for $1.75 million, it was the largest signing bonus the Mets had handed out to a player, beating out the $1.3 million bonus given to outfielder Fernando Martinez in 2005. Expectations were split, but excitement was high. While many were concerned that his swing would limit him to being a low-average, moderate-power player, his fielding instincts, soft hands, arm strength, and athleticism left no doubt that Rosario would be a shortstop for years to come.
Since then, the young Dominican held his own or more at every stop at the minors, hitting around league average despite being the youngest player to play in the Appalachian League in 2013, the NY-Penn League in 2014, and the Florida State League in 2015. In 2016, the future was now, and everything that we thought Rosario could be manifested itself on the diamond.
The shortstop came to camp leaner and stronger, and the results were tangible in his batting line. Always aggressive at the plate, he notched 88 hits in his first 66 games, nearly matching the totals posted in previous seasons. Thanks to excellent hand-eye coordination, quick wrists, and above-average bat speed, he hit the ball with more authority than in years past, hitting for more power to his pull side, including four of his five home runs. His swing gets long thanks to an unusual hand path caused by how high he holds his hands, but Rosario has thus far been able to prevent pitchers from exploiting it.
Rosario was long been considered a plus defender, and nothing has changed. His instincts in the field are excellent, and he his motions are smooth and quick, getting to balls effortlessly. His hands are soft, and his arm is strong and accurate from multiple throwing angles. Though so young, Rosario is extremely mature, demonstrating leadership qualities during plays and mound visits. Always fast, Rosario added even more speed thanks to increased lean muscle. That improved his home-to-first speeds, allowed him to steal more bases, and gave him the ability to stretch more singles into extra-base hits.
Rosario is the total package. He can hit, he can run, and he can field. His bat is one the quickest I’ve seen, allowing him to hit balls in any quadrant of the zone. His patience has improved, and he now draws his fair share of walks. With the way he swings the bat, I can see him developing into above-average power if he adds some muscle to his frame. And if he does add some muscle, I’m not concerned about him having to move off short because he’s a plus runner and an excellent defender. He has the potential to be an all-star caliber major leaguer. In short, Rosario is the shortstop of the future, and I expect the future to begin in 2017.
Potential plus offensive shortstop with above average defense and solid speed? That sounds like a light version of Francisco Lindor to me. Obviously that’s the best case, and Rosario will never be the defensive wizard that Lindor is, but the upside here is tantalizing. By the end of 2017, the Mets could have their first above-average defensive shortstop since the young days of Jose Reyes. What a thought.
Don’t be surprised, be ready.