On the heels of the trade deadline, which did not feature many bats, fantasy owners seeking upside at shortstop could find it with the Mets. Using Keith Law’s prospect rankings, No. 1 Amed Rosario will join the Mets for the rest of the season, causing a ripple effect in many leagues. Since his team sold at the deadline, but not any of their outfield, the Mets will stick to its plan to bring Rosario up on August 1.
With Yoan Moncada already in the majors, this makes for the latest prospect to hit the waiver wire in many leagues, but not in keeper for league only formats. What type of impact should fantasy owners expect?
1. Gold Glove upside
Perhaps the most joyous fantasy owners will be those who own Mets pitchers. While some may question Rosario’s upside in fantasy due to the unknown, his glove work will be on immediate display. Scouts rave about his defense and with the Mets infield a bit slow up the middle, Rosario’s presence through the end of the year will be welcomed. Even if he slumps, Rosario’s glove should keep him in the lineup five-to-six times a week.
2. Speed upside
Noting the Mets do not steal bases seems appropriate since only the Orioles have fewer stolen bases all season. New York has only swiped 25 bases all year but Rosario’s already stolen 19 at Triple-A. Over his minor league career, Rosario’s not been terribly efficient stealing bases with 60 in 87 attempts (69 percent success rate). But, he’s improved moving up the ranks converting 26 of 34 stolen base tries (76.5 percent success rate) in Double-A and Triple-A.
Stolen bases in the majors seems to be one category which can be affected with player’s promotions. Rosario’s upside in this category will be affected by his team, where he hits in the lineup and opportunity. However, owners searching for upside in the category at middle infield would be remiss not to take a chance on the rookie.
3. Plate discipline settling in
Perusing Rosario’s walk and strikeout rates, it seems he’s a contact hitter. There’s some swing and miss to his game with a 21.5 strikeout rate at Double-A last year, but Rosario has reduced it to 15.8 percent at Triple-A through 94 games. More encouraging, he’s made great strides in regards to his on-base abilities. Prior to 2015, Rosario only recorded an on-base percentage above .330 at low-A but it’s spiked since last year.
In Double-A, Rosario’s slash line grew to .330/.381/.464 during 56 games and in a hitter’s paradise at Triple-A, he hit .328/.367/.466 in the aforementioned 94 games above. Bear in mind his average this year is fueled by a .377 batting average on balls-in-play (BABIP) in the Pacific Coast League, which leans heavily towards hitting statistics. Moving to the majors will require some adjustments, but the 21-year old’s shown strides over the last two seasons and he’s still growing into his frame.
4. Power under development
Many minor league hitters hit their power peak in the majors and Rosario may keep this trend going. He hit five home runs across two levels last year and seven at Triple-A in 2017. His growth in isolated power has held over the last two years as well with a .132 mark at High-A, then .146 at Double-A and a .137 prior to his promotion in Las Vegas. Not only can Rosario hit some home runs, but he’s tripled 20 times along with hitting 43 doubles over his 864 at-bats the last two years in the minor leagues.
Due to his spacious new home, triples could be in the offing which will show off his speed but Rosario’s power could surprise. How he handles major league pitching will be a key, but there’s some upside in his bat moving forward and potentially some this year as well.
5. Projecting Rosario
Here’s the tricky part. Reading the quotes from the Mets, they’re going to play Rosario, but not everyday in order to protect him. But, he should be in the lineup at least five times a week the rest of the way. With 59 games remaining on the schedule, Rosario could play as many as 52-to-54 prior to the end of the season. Depending on where he hits, using three and a half at bats as a guide, this translates to roughly 185 at-bats for Rosario.
Since the projection modules do not have much on Rosario to work with, starting with his minor league career slash of .291/.336/.405 as a starter, things may not stray much from here with his average more in the .275-to-.280 range to be realistic. Could he hit higher, perhaps, but there’s a risk he could hit lower as well.
Hoping the Mets move Michael Conforto to third in the lineup, Rosario could ascend to first or second in the order, or they could pigeon hole him in the eighth slot. Seeing the team needs an enema in the speed department, here’s to him higher in the lineup to see more fastballs. If so, Rosario could score 20 or more runs, with three home runs, 15-to-20 RBI, and seven or more steals the rest of the way. Could he swipe double-digits? Possibly, but trying to keep this realistic with the lack of prior running game along with the talk of keeping Rosario fresh upon his arrival.
Those in 10-team leagues or smaller will not get full value out of Rosario unless he exceeds the projections above. It’s entirely possible, but there’s risk adding any prospect in shallower formats. Rosario’s probably a must in 12-team or more leagues if team’s did not stash him prior to the news.
A potential gold glove shortstop with speed and burgeoning power heading to the Big Apple will not be difficult to sell to fantasy owners. Here’s hoping he’s worth the wait for Mets fans and fantasy owners alike.
Statistical Credits: MiLB.com, Fangraphs.com, Baseball-Reference.com