The Situation: The Mets are staggering towards the bottom of the NL like a 3 AM drunk, sitting at 48-55 and having just dealt two of their few players performing well, first baseman Lucas Duda and closer Addison Reed. Particularly troubling has been the play on the left side of the infield, where fading veterans Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Reyes have combined to provide horrific defense and meager offense. With Cabrera having moved off short permanently to rotate between second and third and Reyes battling an arm injury after once again proving incapable of handling the defensive rigors of short, the six spot is open in every conceivable sense. Oh yeah, and the Mets have the best prospect left in the minors, a potential stud defender at short who is currently hitting .328 in Triple-A. What the heck took so long again?
Background: The Mets signed Rosario—then going by his full name of German Amed Rosario—for $1.4 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2012. He was the recipient of unusually aggressive assignments for a now-conservative organization early in his career, completely skipping the complex leagues to make his stateside debut in the Appy League in 2013, jumping to Brooklyn in the New York-Penn League in 2014 (with a few weeks filling in at full-season ball mixed in), and then straight from there to High-A in 2015, virtually entirely skipping Low-A. He didn’t hit much for those first three pro seasons, but he wasn’t overwhelmed at the plate and the underlying scouting reports remained impressive. Rosario broke out in 2016, beating up the notoriously pitching-friendly Florida State League in a return engagement and mashing even more after a midseason promotion Double-A Binghamton. He hasn’t stopped yet through a turn at MLB spring training and 94 games at Triple-A Las Vegas this year.
Scouting: Rosario is a true five-tool prospect with the potential to be one of the best shortstops in the game. Early in his career, it looked like he might slide over to third, but he’s improved his athleticism greatly in the last two seasons, even making a rare full grade or more jump in speed and now projecting as a significant stolen base threat. In the field, Rosario possesses excellent feet, soft hands, and a plus arm. He’ll still make some typical young player mistakes, but with increased reliability, he could be a future Gold Glover, and at the least he should remain at shortstop for at least a decade.
As hinted at above, Rosario was overpowered as a hitter early on, but it all clicked in 2016 and his offensive upside is no longer really in question. Over 662 plate appearances in the high-minors, Rosario is a .333 hitter. There’s some Vegas air inflating that, but still, that’s a big batting average to be hitting for as a shortstop young for his leagues with impressive secondary skills. He’s always shown notable raw power, and it’s starting to peek out in game situations as he begins to drive the ball with authority consistently. Despite low MILB home run totals (career-high of 7 this year), he could easily be a double-digit homer guy in the majors, especially if he fills out a bit in the upper body or starts uppercutting the ball more. Rosario has really quick hands and wrists, which he’s now converted into excellent bat speed. He’s got good plate coverage and bat control, but if there’s a limiting factor to the offensive upside, it’s that he can get overaggressive on balls outside the zone. It’s all come together quickly enough that he could struggle in the majors early on, but there’s potential for a role 7 star here.
Immediate Future: With almost every other manager in baseball, Rosario would be the unquestioned Mets shortstop for years to come. But don’t be surprised if Terry Collins spots him with Reyes more than he should over the next two months in deference to Reyes’s name value and veteran-ness, much as he has sometimes benched his other prized young bat Michael Conforto a little too much. Ultimately, it won’t matter because Collins and Reyes are probably both gone by the end of the season, and Rosario is very likely going to be too good to sit pretty soon. He’s certainly ready. —Jarrett Seidler
Fantasy Take: What's that? Lost amid the din and whirl of a thousand deals, your cries for middle-infield help have been heard by the fantasy gods. Now, first things first: Rosario is 21 years old, and will be vulnerable to any and potentially all of the pitfalls and trappings that often befall 21-year-olds in their first sustained looks at big-league pitching. He also owes his elite prospectitude largely to the combination of his wheels and glovework as a true shortstop. The offensive game is still developing, though it should be noted that the development has remained roundly positive and consistent this year, albeit within extremely friendly confines. He's shown enough raw hitting ability to project on-base utility, and with it ample opportunity to swipe bags with his plus-or-better speed. That's the good stuff, right there. Long noted for his raw power to boot, it hasn't been a particularly prevalent feature of his game to date, at least as concerns the over-the-fence variant we care about. So there's very definitely a chance, and perhaps a good one, that we're looking in debut form at, like, Alcides Escobar a few years ago. But know that the pop is in there, and forget not that Alcides Escobar a few years ago was a really nice fantasy asset. That there is allure for another gear beyond that makes investment all the more tantalizing.
In NL-only and deeper mixed formats, particularly those in which your squad could use the gentle touch of AVG, SB, and/or R support, Rosario warrants a moderately aggressive bid into double digit dollars. Where a difference-maker in those categories could put you over the top, it'd be fine to open the purse strings that much wider, as we're unlikely to see many (if any) other players emerge this season with his combination of skill set and everyday opportunity—even if the Terry Collins Factor threatens the latter out of the gate. —Wilson Karaman
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