Thursday, March 22, 2012

Rosario's infield transformation continues

In recent years the Twins have struggled to produce quality middle infielders who could succeed at the big league level. There has been a steady stream of infielders to man second base and shortstop for the Twins during the last two seasons but no one has stood out above the crowd. During this offseason, the organization decided to try to create their own middle infielder by moving Eddie Rosario, one of the team's top hitting prospects, from the outfield to the middle infield.

Last season with Elizabethton was outstanding for Rosario as he showed some great promise with a breakout campaign. He would be named the player of the year in the Appalachian League by hitting .337/.397/.670 in 67 games for the E-Twins. This offensive explosion was unexpected from the 19-year old after he only hit five home runs and batted .294/.343/.438 in 2010 with the GCL Twins. The Twins saw an asset that was still relatively young and thought they still had time to transform him into a middle infielder before he moved through the rest of the minor leagues.

During his couple of seasons in the minor leagues, Rosario showed that he was an athletic player who was able to do a lot in the outfield. The Twins have an extra supply of athletic outfielders that are working their way through the Twins system. Ben Revere broke out for the Twins last season but waiting in the wings are Joe Benson, Aaron Hicks, and Oswaldo Arcia.

As Twins Fan From Afar wrote about in a post earlier this week, this surplus of outfielders could mean the Twins would be willing to deal an outfield prospect. It also means that the decision to give Rosario a chance to use his athletic ability at another position was something the Twins needed to explore.

The word out of the Twins complex in Fort Myers is that Rosario is working with Hall of Famer Paul Molitor and former Twins manager Tom Kelly on his infield footwork. Since he had a good arm in the outfield, it shouldn't be hard for him to make the throws at second base. As the Twins witnessed with Tsuyoshi Nishioka last year, the footwork while turning a double play can be a challenge. Rosario will has yet to play in a full season league for the Twins so this will give him four levels of the minor leagues to try and master his new position. 

With Rosario transitioning to second base, the Twins are in position to develop quite the infield over the next couple of seasons. Miguel Sano, the team's number one prospect, plays third base at the same level as Rosario. The Twins number one draft pick from last June, Levi Michael, could be the shortstop between these two players in Beliot at the start of this season. Fans who follow the farm system of the Twins are salivating at the thought of these players all reaching their full potential at the same time. This could be the core of a devastating Twins line-up of the future.

There are so many more levels of the minor leagues for these prospects to get through in the coming years so it is a little early to be planning on a trip to the 2016 World Series. The Twins allow their players to spend time developing in the minor leagues and these players won't be rushed to Target Field. Rosario was facing a logjam in the outfield so a shift to second base could make his path to the Twins a little easier. He will need to continue to hit like he did last year but the quick hands of Mr. Rosario should fit nicely into the Twins middle infield of the future.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Thanks for the mention! Let's hope that Rosario pans out at 2B.