Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF): Elite arm, defensive potential and plus power give Rosario a chance to be an above-average everyday catcher.
The Player: Wilin Rosario (C, Colorado Rockies) – Signed by the Rockies in 2006 he came stateside immediately and put a solid showing as a 17-year old in the Arizona League. He spent two additional years in rookie ball before moving on to High-A in 2009 and then breaking out with a .285/.342/.552 line at Double-A in 2010. He suffered a knee injury at the end of 2010 and returned to hit .249/.284/.457 in Double-A in 2011 before getting 54 at-bats in the big leagues last year.
Body: Strong, well-built body with thick lower half. Should have good durability behind the plate. Shows some limited athleticism but that will likely deteriorate as he continues to mature.
Makeup: Worked very hard to return quickly from knee surgery and showed minimal effects in 2011. Works well with his coaches and pitchers and earns high marks from the organization for his on-field demeanor and off-field behavior.
Hit: Short, compact swing with plus bat speed. Hits from slightly open stance with just a small stride and good balance throughout his swing. Minimal movement through his load and his hands get the bat to the zone quickly and consistently. Very good on the inner half but struggles to stay on balls away from him. Will sit dead red occasionally and needs to read breaking balls better. Lacks any kind of true approach at the plate and will swing early and often in most at-bats, often times to his detriment. Grade – 30/40
Power: Plus present strength in frame with plus bat speed and a sturdy lower half in his swing. Has some elevation in the finish of his swing but keeps the bat in the zone well. Much better present power to the pull side but has strength to drive ball out the other way. Will improve overall power production with improved willingness to drive the ball back where it’s pitched. Grade (raw power) – 50/60
Arm: His best tool. Has truly elite arm strength with the ability to fire throws anywhere on the diamond with outstanding velocity and accuracy. Grade – 70/70
Fielding: Receives well and has above-average catch and throw skills right now. Shows good footwork on throws and a quick transfer and release. Works well with his pitchers but is still developing his ability to call a game on his own. Has trouble with balls in the dirt. Has improved overall the last two years and has overall plus potential as a defender. Grade – 40/60
Speed: A well-below average runner now that has already slowed down some due to knee injuries. Could slow down more as he takes a beating behind the plate. Will run the risk of being a hindrance on the bases. Grade – 30/20
Summation: The overall package screams potential above-average everyday catcher and occasional All-Star. His hitting approach may hold him back some but as he adjusts to big league pitching he could be .250-.260 hitter with 25 home runs annually. His defense only requires minor refinements to reach his ceiling and it should keep him in the lineup everyday regardless of his offense.
Relative Risk: Moderate. His hit tool will have to prove it can play at the big league level and his knees will have to prove they can hold up over the long term. His standout tools – arm and power – will earn him multiple chances to stick in the big leagues.
Future: Rosario has yet to spend a day in Triple-A and it appears that is where he will go to start the 2012 season. The acquisition of veteran Ramon Hernandez gives the Rockies a viable starter for this season and Rosario will be better served playing every day rather than just 2-3 times per week in the big leagues. Hernandez is under contract through 2013 but is signed at such a reasonable rate (2 years, $6.4 million) that the Rockies could move Rosario into the everyday lineup if he shows he is ready later this year or to start the 2013 season.