Before this season Gabriel Rosa was on nearly every analyst list as one of the top prospects in the Cincinnati organization. Many on those lists have made strong cases for advancement; however Rosa is not among them. He started the season out in extended spring training and began his season at Billings where he struggled with a .179 average in twenty-one games. After that he was moved to Arizona and put on the DL with hip problems. This comes after his professional debut in the AZL last year where he hit .245/.314 OB% as a seventeen year-old.
Rosa was the highest rated Puerto Rican hitter prior to last year’s draft when the Reds picked him in the second round out of Colegio Hector Urdaneda in Rio Grande, PR. They went over slot value to sign him with a $500k deal that denied Bethune-Cookman of his services on the diamond. First of all, let it be noted that he just turned nineteen this past July and he’s only played in 49 rookie league games, so the expectations Cincinnati had when they made him an early pick have not changed. It’s likely his hip hindered his progress this season and he’ll still be a teenager on opening day 2013.
Rosa is listed at 6’4”/185# and bats/throws right-handed. Even though he was drafted as an outfielder nearly all his action since has been at third base. In his still-brief minor league career his glove at that position has given evidence of other concerns as he’s been charged with seventeen errors in 46 games he’s played in the field. Five of those occurred in the nine appearances he made at shortstop, but his fielding percentage is still below .900 at the hot corner. He has the arm strength to play the position but it compromised by a slow release that may eventually move him to right field.
Rosa is another example of a Caribbean prospect that comes into an organization at a young age with high potential and raw skills. Probably the reason that reputation is frequently associated with foreign players is because many American prospects spend their teen years developing collegiately. He projects as having good power which should improve as his body matures. He needs to refine his stroke and make it quicker as he advances. Also, he has a reputation of being “pull happy” by opening up his body too much when he swings, making him unable to go the other way when opposing pitchers work the outer portion of the plate.
Still, as noted above, he has plenty of time to right the ship. Technically a Puerto Rican is not considered “foreign” in the US, so Rosa is one of a trio of high profile “non-mainland” hitting prospects in the Cincinnati system. The Reds did not invest a draft selection on Venezuelan Yorman Rodriguez or Dominican Juan Duran, but they did pony up a combined $4.5M in signing bonuses. As could be expected in the high ceiling/high risk nature of the game both have had flashes and struggles in the lower levels of their system. Rodriguez tore up Pioneer League pitching at Billings in 2010 and has done okay at in his second tour at Dayton this year after struggling before a midseason demotion from Bakersfield. After signing Duran as a sixteen year old his body shot up another 6” in height giving him a more generous strike zone to protect. He flashed some power at Dayton last year with sixteen home runs in 104 games and this season he’s hitting .238 with twelve HR in high-A.
Duran is oldest of the three and he turns twenty-one today. One would figure that if the Reds keep taking shots one of them will eventually hit the target. They’ve had good results with foreign pitchers. Johnny Cueto is vying to become the franchise’s first ever Cy Young award winner and may run into competition from Cuban teammate Aroldis Chapman. Meanwhile many consider Daniel Corcino the top pitching prospect in their system. Now they are out to prove they can tap into foreign talent to develop someone who can protect the plate instead of attack it. These countries historically have produced top-notch baseball talent and it’s no secret that high on the Cincinnati agenda is seeing their share of it in a Reds uniform.
Other News from the Farm:
Louisville lost 5-1 at Columbus. They lost a lead when they allowed two in the fourth inning and the Clippers broke the game open when they added three more in the eighth. The Bats’ offense was limited to five hits on the evening and their only run came on a homer by Joey Votto. Travis Webb took the loss in his first start this season. He was lifted in the fourth and charged with two runs on two hits/three walks while striking out three.
A walk-off single by Bryson Smith gave Pensacola a 3-2 home win over Tennessee in ten innings. Smith led the Wahoos with three hits and raised his AA average over .300. Donald Lutz and Tucker Barnhart added two hits each. Drew Hayes got his first start and tossed two scoreless innings, allowing two hits/one walk with a couple of strikeouts. Tony Cingrani made his first relief appearance and allowed two runs on two hits/five walks in three plus innings while striking out six. Justin Freeman entered in the ninth and finished the game without allowing a run to pick up the win.
Billy Hamilton Theft Watch:
Two games without a stolen base is hardly a drought, but when it comes to swiping bags Hamilton sets a new standard for himself. He ended that “mini-drought” last night when he stole second after walking in the ninth. Later that inning he crossed the plate with the winning run. He walked earlier in the sixth, but never had an open base in front of him. His record total is up to 155 SB after 130 games.
In a wild Cal League game Bakersfield lost 8-7 at home to Rancho Cucamonga. The Blaze lost a lead when they allowed three in the eighth and then tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the inning. The Quakes got the lead again with three more up in the ninth. The Blaze made a good effort for another comeback, but the inning ended after they scored twice. Leadoff batter Theo Bowe had three hits and scored twice. He is now hitting .319 for Bakersfield. Kurtis Muller, Dominic D’Anna, and Danny Vicioso added two hits apiece with Muller driving in two. Josh Smith got the start and no decision when he allowed two runs on four hits/two walks in five innings. Chris Joyce relieved him with two scoreless innings. Andrew Brackman was roughed up for six runs (four earned) in the final two innings to blow the save and take the loss.
Dayton allowed six in the second at West Michigan and lost 7-1. Joe Terry did his part with three hits while Yovan Gonzalez added two and scored their only run. Radhames Quezada got the start and the loss when he was victimized by five unearned runs. He allowed six runs (one earned) on six hits in two innings.
Billings broke open their home game against Missoula with four runs in the sixth and another three the next inning en route to cruising to a 12-5 victory. Leadoff hitter Beau Amaral had three hits and crossed the plate three times. Carlos Sanchez added two hits including a two-run homer. Starter Jonathan Moscot allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits/one walk while striking out five in four innings. Michael Salter relieved him by allowing two runs in three plus innings for the win.