Wilin Rosario is one of the most interesting players for the Colorado Rockies, day in and day out. Today's Denver Post featured a piece by Patrick Saunders on Rosario, which is totally worth the read. As a preview, it's the sort of piece that takes you back to when Baby Bull was being scouted at age 16 by Rolando Fernandez down in Bonao, DR.
Rosario's career to this point has been a cycle of "Impress, Promote, Disappoint, Improve". His first US Pro season was in 2007 in Casper. While the Rockies were racing to the World Series, Rosario was striking out like a madman and struggling to hit the ball up with the Pioneer League Casper Rockies. He repeated Rookie ball and batted .316/.371/.532 over 66 games with 12 long balls.
Oftentimes, players who are ready to move past Rookie ball are moved to the Asheville Tourists in the South Atlantic League. Not Rosario, though. At age 20, Rosario got the bump to A+ Modesto in the California League, a pretty huge step when you consider that a lot of players go to extended Spring Training and then potentially A- Tri-Cities in the Northwest League once the short season teams start. Also, look at Will Swanner and Trevor Story: They both ended up in Asheville as well.
But Rosario completely skipped 2 levels of pro baseball, and true to form, he somewhat disappointed. Yes, he was only 20 in the California league, but he batted .266 (.701 OPS) with 4 homers over 58 games, a .200 drop in OPS.
The Rockies liked what they saw, however, and continued to advance Rosario, who murdered the ball in 2010 in AA Tulsa before he wrecked his knee. Repeating AA at that point was the logical move, and Rosario restarted his cycle by disappointing, posting a mere .741 OPS in the Texas League, while hitting 21 HR over 102 games.
There was talk that Rosario was done for, that his work ethic would never allow him to be a successful major leaguer, things of that nature. His MLB promotion showed Rosario's raw talent, but also his lack of polish. With the exception of 3 HR, nobody was really impressed by Rosario.
This season, Rosario is once again showing his resolve to improve his game. He has hit 14 HR, leading NL Rookies. He has also allowed 10 balls past him, leading NL Catchers. He is throwing out runners at a 30% (12-for-28) clip, a mark slightly above league average. He needs to work on his receiving skills. But anybody who watched Rosario in September of 2011 and who has been watching Rosario in 2012 will tell you that he has seriously stepped up his game.
At 23, Rosario is going to be one of those guys we need to be patient with. As we watch the guy grow and mature, we can see the areas of improvement, where he's learning, and yes, his mistakes are often and glaring.
But as far as a MLB catcher's career is going to go, he can't have picked a better time to be learning in the Majors than 2012.
Christian Friedrich has learned this year from both Cliff Lee and Jeff Francis, and we're seeing some of the improvement in Friedrich's last few starts. Ramon Hernandez knows he might be traded, but he's ready to rejoin the Rockies anyhow. Chris Nelson is doing just fine.
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Notebook-style article from Trey Scott of MLB.com, but this little clip stood out:
Baseball statistician Bill Chuck notes that Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario has hit more home runs out of the No. 7 hole than anybody in baseball. Rosario has hit nine of his 14 out of that spot.