After years of swinging at everything and frustrating everyone, Rosario may have had an epiphany.
Paul Molitor has always been a believer in Eddie Rosario’s swing. As a roving hitting instructor, Molitor worked with Rosario in the minors as far back as 2010, saying later that the left-handed hitter’s “ability to square up the ball” immediately caught his eye. Molitor replaced Ron Gardenhire as Twins manager in 2015, and during his first spring training at the helm he praised Rosario’s hitting ability on a daily basis. At the time Rosario was 23 years old and coming off a disappointing Double-A season in which he hit just .243/.286/.387 and was suspended 50 games for marijuana use, but Molitor believed.
Early that May the Twins needed outfield reinforcements and at Molitor’s urging they bypassed Aaron Hicks to call up Rosario, who was hitting just .242/.280/.379 with a 17/5 K/BB ratio in 23 games at Triple-A. For all the talk about his upside, Rosario had a sub-.700 OPS above Single-A for his career and it had been around 18 months since he was a productive hitter at any level, but as Molitor explained: “I wanted to give Eddie an opportunity to get up here. I’ve been around him enough to know that for that kid, it’s just been a matter of him learning to apply himself a little bit more consistently, and I think he’s been doing that.”
Griffin Conine, RF, Duke University (Cotuit Kettleers)
Following a strong sophomore season at Duke, Griffin Conine, the son of 17-year major league veteran Jeff Conine, entered the summer with high expectations on the Cape. On the back of a league-leading 11 home runs, Conine outperformed even the wildest of expectations and fully established himself as one of the top college prospects in the 2018 draft. Equipped with plus-plus raw power, he has incredibly quick wrists and the most impressive bat speed on the entire Cape. Despite a rather violent swing, Conine showcases remarkable balance and plus barrel control to go along with a smooth and natural hand path. The swing allows him to successfully access his power in-game and consistently produce exceptionally hard contact off the bat despite an unimposing 6-foot-1 frame. Conine has shown a propensity to work the count and a willingness to draw walks and wait for his pitch. While his strikeout rate is a bit higher than you’d expect at this level, the strikeouts are a byproduct of a hitter with plus game power that tends to work deep counts. Otherwise, Conine is a fringy runner with solid reads and an average arm in right field. While he won’t cost you games defensively in left or right field, the bat is the what you’re buying. And as a polished college bat with a future above-average hit tool, plus-plus bat speed, and plus game power, there is more than enough bat to buy to make him a legitimate top half of the first-round talent in 2018.
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Scooter puts skin in the game, acquiring three of the players he discusses here. So if he's wrong, it hurts.
I acquired two of the six AL-only players and one of the six NL-only players featured in this week’s Deep League Report in my home leagues. I don’t just talk the deep-league game, I live it. If you want to know which players I picked up and what I paid for them, ask me in the comments. On with the show.
Milwaukee and St. Louis had two very different outcomes Tuesday night, but it wasn't all just luck.
Cardinals right-hander Mike Leake had only given up one run through four innings against the Red Sox on Tuesday night, but he ran into trouble in the fifth inning, in a big way. The Red Sox didn’t start launching balls over the fence, but their swings came early (even, somewhat uncharacteristically, on the first pitch) and looked confident.
Leake’s sheer stuff was fine, but his command frayed (he hit Andrew Benintendi with an 0-2 pitch), and the mounting confidence of the Boston batsmen seemed to come directly from his personal stores. It was one hard-hit single, then another, then the unlucky hit batter, then a double off the wall by Hanley Ramirez, then a dumb intentional walk, then another pair of singles, and before manager Mike Matheny could make it out there to remove his April ace, the game was gone.
Notes on Stephen Gonsalves, Dakota Hudson, Brock Stewart, Eric Skoglund, Brian Miller, Brock Burke, and more.
Hitter of the Day:
Brian Miller, OF, Miami Marlins (Low-A, Greensboro): 4-4, 3 R, 4 2B, 4 RBI, BB
Chosen 36th overall in the 2017 draft, Miller looks like an everyday player in center field, which would be big for the team. While the only tool that stands out is plus speed, he has a knack for making contact, getting balls in the outfield, and getting on base.
Why don't more managers stash a reliever in left fielder for one batter in order to preserve the platoon advantage?
Let us take some time to appreciate the Waxahachie Swap. The term was coined by Rob Neyer and describes a maneuver occasionally pulled by a manager, usually in the National League. Suppose you have a pitcher on the mound—a right-handed gent—and the other team has a left-handed hitter on the way up. You’d really rather have that lefty face your LOOGY, but bringing in your LOOGY means that the current pitcher had to go take a shower and can’t come back until tomorrow. And that makes you sad.
Thad Levine talked deadline deals, Tinder, analytics, and lots more at Baseball Prospectus Night in Minnesota.
As part of Baseball Prospectus Night at Target Field on August 5, Minnesota Twins general manager Thad Levine joined us for an interview and audience Q&A. The following is a transcript of his interview with me, which has been edited for clarity and brevity, as the entire session lasted more than an hour and was over 10,000 words when transcribed. You can listen to the unedited, hour-plus Levine audio, including the audience Q&A, on the "Gleeman and The Geek" podcast.
Notes on Yankees, Cubs, Blue Jays, Tigers, Rays, Mariners and Dodgers prospects.
Greg Goldstein Donny Sands, C, New York Yankees (Low-A Charleston)
Rounder build, below-average athlete, lacks projection; fringe-average bat speed, off balance during swing, long swing path, flashed some looseness vs. lesser stuff, pull-side hitter, lunged at better offspeed, lacks projection to change profile much; projects fringe-average hit utility; above-average raw, showed some pull-side power on pitch in the middle of the zone, swings with mild leverage, high leg kick for power, needs effort to produce pop, limits ability to square with consistency; projects to below-average game; timed 4.47, 4.50; average arm strength, stiff in the upper body, sails ball on throws to 2B, lack of accuracy limits natural arm ability; 2.05 pop up, fringe mover behind the plate, failed to keep balls in front, blocking doesn’t look easy for him, has enough size to make up some for lack of side-to-side skills, still projects below-average behind the plate right now, projected improvement to fringe with maturity; potential backup catcher, likely up and down Triple-A backstop.
Zack Short, SS, Chicago Cubs (High-A Myrtle Beach)
Small build, solid athlete; mild load, little noise; below-average bat speed, contact ability negatively affected by high effort, lots of grounders, lunged at offspeed, below-average bat control; below-average raw, struggles getting loft, doesn’t lift balls in the middle of the zone, flashed leverage and power on pull-side HR, not confident that he does much vs. higher-level stuff; 30 game power; timed 4.18; average arm strength, loose arm, normal mechanics, quick release, plays at SS; smooth fielder, makes plays to both sides and on the move, quick transfer, clean defensive actions, flashed glove skills on short hops, controls the infield; potential reserve SS; likely org infielder.