Mets fans have been waiting since 2011 for a replacement for Jose Reyes. Reyes was dazzling, with blazing speed, great hitting, and a flamboyant attitude, and once he was gone, the Mets missed him and tried their best to replace him, only to fall short. The year that Reyes started playing elsewhere, the Mets signed a 16 year old Dominican Shortstop who grew up idolizing Reyes by the name of Amed Rosario. Rosario received the highest bonus for his age bracket in franchise history, and became a rising star immediately. Over the next few years, his hype grew, and he improved greatly over time, and then exploded in Hi-A and Double-A. He gained national attention, and became a top-10 prospect in the MLB. But, while Reyes has returned to the Mets, Amed Rosario still looks to be the team’s long term answer at shortstop.
(Ted Klein, 2013 Spring Training)
SS Amed Rosario
R/R, 6’2″ 200 lbs, 11/20/1995 (21), Signed on July 2nd 2o12 for 1.75 Million Dollars out of the Dominican Republic
|All Levels (4 Seasons)||358||1501||170||387||63||28||10||147||41||21||92||266||.280||.328||.388||.715|
The Mets always believed in Rosario, and signed him to the biggest International Free Agent bonus for 16-23 year olds in franchise history at 1.75 million dollars. Even after signing three other players (Kenny Hernandez, Andres Gimenez, Gregory Guerrero) to million dollar bonuses after Rosario, he still takes the lead to this day at 1.75 Million. Amed, not a typical name for a native Dominican, was named after his father’s favorite character in an Iranian Soap Opera.
Unlike most players coming out of the Dominican Republic, Rosario came from an educated family. His father was a lawyer and became a judge and negotiated his bonus. His mother is also a lawyer, and his sisters were studying law in New York. Another unusual part of Rosario is that he received his high school education at 16 before he signed. A majority of players who sign at 16 do not continue their education and instead forego it to play for bonuses that will feed their family and give a home to them. To say Rosario is special, is selling him short, and the Mets believed that at the beginning of his career.
After I saw him in Spring Training 2013 in the backfields, Rosario was assigned to Advanced Rookie League Kingsport, an aggressive assignment for the 17 year old, and did okay with a .241/.279/.358 line, with 15 extra base hits in 58 games. It may not have been the most exciting debut, but scouts were so impressed by Rosario that he was ranked at the top of the Appalachian League Prospects. Early on, Rosario had a problem with walking and selectivity, walking 4.9% of the time, and striking out 19% in Rookie League.
The next year, the Mets had every intention of sending Rosario to Brooklyn, but sent him to Savannah early to get some game time before sending him to Brooklyn. He struggled a bit in Savannah for 7 games but managed to hit a homer , but looked excellent in Brooklyn, hitting .289/.337/.380 with 17 extra base hits in 68 games and playing excellent defense as an 18 year old. He was ranked the #3 prospect in the New York-Penn League after the season, trailing Marcos Molina and Reynaldo Lopez. Rosario held his own against advanced competition, many of which were coming out of the college ranks right after draft, which made the Mets thrilled enough to make an aggressive decision.
Usually when a teenager plays in a short season league and does well, a team moves them up gradually to Full-Season A ball. However, the Mets chose to send him, Marcos Molina, and Jhoan Urena straight to Hi-A St. Lucie instead. There, he was the youngest player in the Florida State League for the duration of the season. In 2015, Rosario was pretty overmatched at Hi-A against the advanced league, hitting .257/.307/.335 in 103 games. Between being pretty young for the level and a wrist injury that lingered for a majority of the year, Rosario had a tough time navigating through the league and hitting for power. While at times, he was top 3 in the league in doubles, Amed never hit a homer in 2015, and while he was going to go play for the Aguilas in the winter, instead he rested and worked out with Mike Barwis, gaining some speed and bulk.
Amed arrived in camp with a new sense of confidence, doing away with the bad taste in his mouth, creating a twitter with his thoughts and catching fan’s praises, and a personal saying: Don’t Be Surprised, Be Ready. We should’ve been ready for what happened next: he found redemption. Amed repeated High-A, still 3rd youngest in the league to start out, and in his first game returning, hit an opposite field home run in walk off fashion.
— Amed Rosario (@Amed_Rosario) April 8, 2016
To this day, I watch with satisfaction. After playing 103 games the year before with no homer, his first one comes as an oppo walk off shot in the home opener. That’s some taste at redemption. It didn’t stop either, as Rosario blazed through the Florida State League, hitting .309/.359/.442 with 10 doubles, 8 (!) triples and three homers before appearing as an All-Star in the league, and then going up to Double-A Binghamton and murdering the ball there. He made a stop in the Futures Game after 16 Double-A games, where he made a couple very nice plays in the field, including one deep in the hole to rob a runner of a hit. His tools were completely on display.
In his first 26 games, he was beating up on Double-A, hitting .354/.405/.525 before hitting a snag on July 24th, succumbing to a hamstring injury. He missed a week and a half, returning to the lineup on August 5th. Coming into August 5th, his strikeout rate was at 15% in 26 Double-A games. The remaining 28 games he continued hitting but driving the ball seemed a little compromised despite him hitting two homers within days of each other in August. His strikeout rate also rose during that time, striking out nearly 27% of the time which I attribute to lingering issues with the Hammy. There were plenty of reports of him wincing in pain while playing, but he played through it. He finished Double-A hitting .341/.392/.481 with 14 doubles, 5 triples, and 2 homers. He hit 5 homers, which doubled his career total in pro ball.
If anything, this year proved his step forward wasn’t an aberration, his BB% rose to a career high 8% in Double-A, he was putting up big numbers and hitting the ball hard every which way. His speed was on display, and his defense was excellent.
After dominating this year, Amed started receiving top honors, starting with the consensus Mets top prospect, and then becoming a consensus top 10 prospect in every top 100 prospect rankings in the MLB, and well warranted, considering the performance and his high ceiling.
Okay, scouting report time. Rosario is a little tall for a shortstop, but that really doesn’t matter because he moves well laterally and has great instincts at the position. His range is excellent and he can make plays deep in the hole. Some have described his overall defense as plus-plus, top defensive caliber in one of the most important defensive positions in the field. His arm is a nice cannon with a quick and accurate release, capable of throwing out people deep in the hole, and gunning down really quick runners.
His speed is excellent, coming up as plus (60 on the 20-80), while Baseball Prospectus has actually given him plus-plus grades (70), but I believe that was an overexertion that may have contributed to his hamstring injury, since the grade awarded and the hammy injury happened at the same time in mid to late July. Right now he’s learning how to use it to translate into running the bases, where he is pretty raw, but he may be able to steal 30+ bases some day in the major leagues. His speed does allow him to already stretch doubles into triples easier than most.
Amed has improved greatly with the bat over the last few years. Rosario is very smart, and adjusts his approach from at-bat to at-bat. He continues to listen to coaches and usually has a plan to get a hit and look to drive the ball to any part of the stadium. His bat speed is plus, with a quick whip through the zone. He looks to be a plus hitter, capable of a .280+ batting average. His ability to walk and be selective has steadily improved, and will likely continue to improve in the next few years. His approach gears to contact, and spraying to the gaps.
As for power, Amed gained ten pounds in muscle this past winter working with Barwis and figures to use it to drive the ball even better than before. While Rosario has shown in-game he had fringe-average power (A 45, or 12-15 homer potential), I believe the extra muscle may give him a better half-grade to a 50 grade, or 15-18 homers annually. He has a natural ability to hit the ball the other way, but four out of his five homers last season were balls pulled to left field.
With the whole package of hitting, speed, and defense, Rosario seems like he can be an all-star if he can really reach his ceiling, and be the shortstop Mets fans have waited for since Reyes left. He’ll likely start the year at Triple-A Las Vegas, and if Asdrubal Cabrera gets injured, be called up to Queens. No worries Amed, we won’t be surprised, we’ll be ready.
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