Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Twins Other Rookie

Thus far, I've been pretty vocal in my belief that it's Miguel Sano who (and not Carlos Correa), that deserves the AL Rookie of the Year award. In a crop of youth that is one of the strongest in recent memory, Sano, Correa, and Francisco Lindor have highlighted the field. The Twins have another rookie though that has been equally as important in 2015, and it isn't Byron Buxton.

Way back in March, I suggested that Eddie Rosario would be the first Twins prospect promoted to the big leagues, and that he would have a Danny Santana-like breakout this season. While he hasn't hit out of his mind like Santana did, he has substantiated his performance significantly more than the converted shortstop, and Rosario has been a catalyst for the Twins winning.

Drafted out of Puerto Rico in the 4th round of the Major League Baseball draft back in 2010, Rosario debuted for the Twins on May 6. His first game saw him go 1-4 with a run in a 13-0 Twins rout of the Athletics. Fast forward just over 100 games, and the numbers Rosario has put up have been nothing short of remarkable.

Handling his own at the big league level, Rosario has slashed .270/.291/.450 for the Twins. A free swinger that strikes out a bit too much while walking a bit too little, the production has showed up in other places. With 17 doubles, 12 triples, ten home runs, and 11 stolen bases, Rosario has been the king of extra bases for the Twins. He's also scored 50 runs and driven in another 42. Offensively, his game will need to evolve towards a better command of the zone, but in his first go round, he's fared extremely well.

Defensively, Rosario has been at the center of an outfield that has improved by leaps and bounds over a season ago. He has 15 outfield assists and has compiled 10 DRS (defensive runs saved). His 5.4 UZR (ultimate zone rating) and 7.2 UZR/150 (15.25 UZR/150 when not playing RF) marks are also plenty impressive. Playing in the grass with the likes of Buxton and Aaron Hicks, Rosario has helped to give the Twins what may be the fastest outfield in the big leagues.

Considering the depth of the Twins farm system, and the talent loaded at the top of it, Rosario has somewhat flown under the radar this season. He's generally thought of third among the likes of Sano and Buxton, and his prospect status never reached higher than being rated 60th overall prior to 2014 by Baseball Prospectus.

For a guy who has been linked to attitude problems, and suffered the setback of a drug suspension, 2015 has been a revelation for Rosario. A successful Arizona Fall League campaign in 2014 (.330/.345/.410 6 XBH 18 RBI in 24 G) seemed to be indicative of what was to come, and that's been exactly the case with how 2015 has played out for Eddie.

Going forward, Rosario will need to perfect his game and continue to work at the plate more significantly than that of more toolsy prospects Sano and Buxton. Rosario doesn't seem to have the proverbial cliff that Santana fell off of coming, but it is going to be on him to cut down on ways opponents can exploit his negative tendencies. This season has been much of what should have been expected from the former 4th rounder, but then there's also been much more than what was expected as well.

Rosario isn't given the due Sano has been, and he probably doesn't have the fanfare that Buxton carries. A lunch pail guy that has just gone to work, Rosario has quietly got it done, and he's been very good.

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