Prospect of the Day: Wilin Rosario, C, Colorado Rockies
Although he's never played an inning of Triple-A baseball, Colorado Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario opened 2012 on the major league roster. Currently splitting time with veteran Ramon Hernandez, Rosario is the medium and long-term hope for the franchise behind the plate. Let's take a look.
Wilin Rosario was signed by the Colorado Rockies as a free agent from the Dominican Republic in 2006. After a summer in the Dominican Summer League, he moved up to the Pioneer League in '07 but didn't distinguish himself by hitting .209/.283/.296 in 34 games. Repeating the league in '08, he took a huge leap forward by hitting .316/.371/.532 with 12 homers in 66 games for Casper, also showing strong defensive tools.
The Rockies bumped him up to the High-A California League in 2009 at age 20. A wrist injury limited him to 58 games for Modesto, where he hit .266/.297/.404. His plate discipline was poor, but scouts remained intrigued with both his bat and glove. Promoted again for 2010, he hit .285/.342/.552 with 19 homers in just 73 games for Double-A Tulsa, missing the last part of the season with a torn right ACL. He recovered and hit .249/.284/.457 with 21 homers in 102 games for Tulsa in '11, followed by a .204/.228/.463 mark in a 16-game major league trial.
Rosario is a 5-11, 215 pound right-handed hitter and thrower, born February 23, 1989. Stocky and strong, he has a short swing and plenty of bat speed, enabling him to get around on plus fastballs. His power is substantial and he should be able to push 20 homers in a full season with maturity. His biggest problem is plate discipline: he's impatient and struggles against breaking balls. It seems unlikely that he'll hit for a high batting average, at least in the short term, but his power should be dangerous.
His defense is impressive and should keep him employed even if his bat has issues. He's thrown out 50% of runners trying to steal so far in his major league career; he threw out 41% in the minors. His error and passed ball rates have been a bit higher than ideal and he needs to improve his blocking, but scouts praise his superior arm strength and quick release.
Rosario has some flaws in his game, but he is young enough to add the necessary polish, and his combination of power and arm strength is very attractive.