Wilin Rosario, Gifted Underachiever

Or Why You Should Still Believe In His Ability

WARNING: This Fanpost weighs heavily on conjecture and academic research, less so on stats, and is solely an exercise for exploring a personal theory.

(I am writing this from the viewpoint of a gifted underachiever and as someone pursuing an advanced degree in Education.)

In a recent Pebble Report, I called Rosario a "gifted underachiever" and stated the drop in stats is not a sign of bad character, but of a frustrated young man that is not being challenged. This is my hare-brained attempt to combine educational psychology with minor league baseball scouting and defend a minor league player that I have never met nor even seen play professional ball. This is all conjecture.

Rockies top prospect Wilin Rosario is having a mediocre year by all accounts. The preseason Baseball America Top Prospect #49 enjoyed a prodigious 2010 in Tulsa before a severe knee injury ended his season and prevented his likely September debut with Colorado. Since then, he has regressed offensively and defensively, and will likely see his Top Prospect Status fall with some scouting organizations.

Underachievers are students who exhibit a severe discrepancy between expected achievement and actual achievement. (Reis & McCoach 157)

I think it's fair to say that 2011 Wilin Rosario (current #1 PuRP) classifies as an underachiever.

According to the study, "Factors That Differentiate Underachieving Gifted Students From High-Achieving Gifted Students", there are two factors that rank as "mathematically substantial" in determining the difference between those meeting their talent/ability level, and those that fall short of expectations.

The largest mean differences between gifted achievers and gifted underachievers occurred on the motivation/self-regulation factor and the goal valuation factors. (McCoach and Del Siegle 148)

NOTE: Other factors such as self-perception, attitudes towards school, and attitudes towards teachers --these are all signs of potential poor character-- were not statistically significant . (McCoach and Del Siegle 149)

Let's examine both of these relevant factors and try to determine if Rosario meets these requirements.


Underachievers may possess knowledge of self-regulatory strategies; however, they may not understand that the effortful use of self-regulatory strategies results in achievement. (McCoach and Del Siegle 146)

If a student is to reach their full potential, they have to continue performing at a high level. The issue with many gifted students is that they are simply more talented than their peers and do not have to exert nearly as much effort in order to meet expectations. These students have the natural ability to succeed without truly trying. Rosario has likely always been the most talented player on his team, no matter the level. The Colorado Rockies' consistent promotion of the young catcher through the minors despite his basic statistics suggests that the team's scouting has always been very fond of Rosario's skill set, and he has rewarded their aggressive approach by excelling at AA at the very young age of 21.

It's obvious that Rosario had a strong sense of self-regulation throughout the minors, with his quick advance and domination of the Texas League in 2010. Despite skipping straight from Rookie Ball to A+ Modesto as a 20 year old, Rosario continued to advance against better levels of competition. You can only successfully make those jumps through hard work and plenty of commitment to your craft. His first season at Tulsa was the latest test, and he performed with flying colors.

Then came the knee injury, and the first real sense of frustration for Rosario. He went from the brink of the major leagues as a 21 year old (!) to a long season of rehabilitation and a repeat visit to Tulsa.

Attitudes and emotional factors must also be in place to enable the student to use intellectual potential. Peterson & Colangelo describe the at-risk student as lacking the resiliency to deal with failure. (Carper 29)

The knee injury cannot be understated enough. Despite appearing completely recovered, the mental and emotional frustration from this injury -- combined with a slow start this season in AA -- may have put Rosario into a very fragile state as an emotional person.

It's very simple to think of minor league prospects as baseball players that we can evaluate purely by stats and scouting. But many prospects --especially international free agents-- are likely more prone to intangibles that don't show up in the spreadsheet. (Remember, Rosario went straight from the Dominican Republic to Casper, Wyoming at age 17.)

For a talent that has always succeeded professionally, Rosario just met his first taste of failure.

Goal Valuation

Along with the failure of suffering a potentially catastrophic knee injury, Rosario also had to repeat the year at Tulsa, an environment he had already completely dominated. Gifted students need constant challenges to test their abilities or else they stagnate and become bored, (Carper 38) and another year with the Drillers after an .894 OPS is the definition of stagnation.

It is the role of the organization to develop their players and prepare them for a major league career. The front office determines what level a player is ready for while simultaneously pushing them to advance as players. With the injury, there were plenty of reasons to keep Rosario in Tulsa. He has not responded well.

David OhNo has mentioned on Twitter that Rosario "acts bored" and "his defense has gone backwards." Within a vacuum, this could be taken as a sign of bad character; it also fits the profile of a gifted talent who is not being challenged to improve.

Rosario was chosen to represent the Rockies in the Futures Game, played before the 2011 All Star Game. This is a direct notice to Rosario that Colorado values him and sees him as an integral part of their organizational future and wanted to challenge him by placing him among the top minor league talent. OhNo mentioned this could be a way for the organization to jumpstart Rosario.


What did Rosario do in the week after this challenge?

He boasted a .417/.500/.958 line with Tulsa, crushing four homeruns in six games.

He hasn't hit a homerun since.

This week could be noise in the data, and the sample certainly is small and likely insignificant. Yet, it completely fits within the profile of a gifted player who responded to a challenge, then settled back into the tedium of everyday life as a AA ballplayer.

This isn't an isolated pattern. Try looking at Rosario's stat lines from this viewpoint instead of a player that has put up inconsistent seasons.

2007: Sent to Casper as an 18 year old after only a single season in the Dominican Summer League; adjusts to serious challenge (including playing in new country against players 2-3 years older).

2008: Returns to Casper; dominates.

2009: Rushed to Modesto, skipping Asheville entirely; adjusts to serious challenge.

2010: Absolutely crushes Tulsa, on the brink of MLB debut.

2011: Return trip to Tulsa; stagnates/regresses.

It's easy to view these seasons as inconsistent. Within context, however, you see a young player adjust to each new challenge before finally stagnating in 2011 due to injury/frustration/lack of challenge.

Despite his overall numbers this season, Dan O'Dowd has maintained that Rosario is going to be on the Rockies Opening Day roster in 2012. They know he needs a challenge in order to reach his potential, and have pushed him at an accelerated rate since signing him as a free agent in 2006.

I don't know Wilin Rosario. I've never talked to him, never seen him play live; however, he does fit the profile of the underachieving student this season. His 2011 numbers may suggest he's not ready for the major leagues, but a challenge may be exactly what this young talents needs right now in order to successfully reach his ceiling. I sincerely hope Dan O'Dowd and the rest of the front office gives him the opportunity.

Works Cited:

Carper, Ann. Bright Students in a Wasteland: The At-Risk Gifted; A Qualitative Study of Fourteen Gifted Dropouts. North Carolina State University, 2002

McCoach, D. Betsy and Del Siegle. Factors That Differentiate Underachieving Gifted Students From High-Achieving Gifted Students. Gifted Child Quarterly, 47:114, 2003

Eat. Drink. Be Merry. But the above FanPost does not necessarily reflect the attitudes, opinions, or views of Purple Row's staff (unless, of course, it's written by the staff [and even then, it still might not]).

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