By Zach Gewelb
Amed Rosario got his first taste of life in the big leagues last season. Now, he’s looking to take the next step in his career and become a consistent contributor for the Mets in 2018.
But what is a realistic expectation for Rosario this season? Can he become the star many expect he is capable of being? Or will he need more time to realize his potential? Spring Training may not tell us the answer, but it can help give us some insight on what we can expect to see from Rosario this season.
In 2017, Rosario’s biggest weakness at the Major League level was his patience at the plate. He only walked three times in 170 plate appearances, which translated to a .271 on-base percentage. He also struck out 49 times, or roughly 30 percent of his at-bats. Those numbers need to improve if Rosario, 22, is to become a star.
“Last year my strike zone was way too big,” Rosario said. “So I tried to put in a small one. Last year I was swinging at too many pitches out through the zone. This year I want to stay with my plan, only swing at good pitches.”
In the minors, Rosario showed a better eye at the plate, posting a .336 on-base percentage across five seasons. In 2016, he recorded a .374 OBP and followed that performance with a .367 mark in the minors last season before earning his promotion to The Show. So it’s not like he’s incapable of being more patient at the plate. He just needs to prove he can do it at the big league level.
Rosario has shown a small improvement in his plate discipline early in Spring Training. His on-base percentage is up to .306 after his first 34 Spring Training at-bats. That number is still not great, but it’s better than his .271 mark last season. He’s only walked one time, though, so there’s plenty of room to improve.
Aside from his plate discipline, Rosario has had a solid Spring Training. He’s shown a knack for driving the ball, slugging four extra-base hits — three doubles and one home run — and driving in five runs thus far.
He showed some power in his big league cameo in 2017, slugging four home runs in 46 games, but he’s at his best when he’s driving the ball into the gaps. His best season came in 2016, when he recorded 42 extra-base hits — 24 doubles, 13 triples and five dingers — across two levels in the minors. When Rosario is right, the Mets can expect to see him find the gaps and use his speed to leg out extra-base hits.
Rosario also needs to improve his play in the field. He was charged with six errors with the Mets last season and 25 total if you include his minor league numbers. But he hasn’t made an error yet in Spring Training and has looked smooth at short.
If Rosario can provide consistently good defense, find the gaps and be more patient at the plate, he has a chance to become the Mets’ next great homegrown star. I wouldn’t count on Rosario putting it all together to start the season, but there’s no reason to believe he can’t become a valuable contributor for the Mets before the end of the season.
Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewe