Monday, August 19, 2013

Watching the RockCats tonight

Eddie Rosario played
for Puerto Rico in
the World Baseball
Classic, but mostly
as an outfielder.
As noted in the Monday print column, tonight Fox Sports North will air an Eastern League game featuring the Twins' Double A affiliate, the New Britain RockCats.

While the main attraction on the RockCats — who have the worst record of the Twins farm teams at 59-68 — is obviously Miguel Sano, there are some other players worth studying for their potential future impact on the major league roster.

Second baseman Eddie Rosario, 21, is very likely to be listed this winter among the organization's top five prospects and quite possibly in the top 100 overall prospect lists. He has essentially moved in lockstep with Sano through the farm system — they dominated the Appy League together, spent last year in Beloit together (interrupted by a rookie league rehab stint for Rosario as he recovered from a fractured facial bone), and were moved up from Fort Myers on the same day.

Rosario, drafted as an outfielder, is in his second season in the infield. The scouts have always liked his ability to hit, but there have been doubts that his power would maintain as he moved up the ladder, which is one reason the Twins sought to make him a second baseman. While his Double-A numbers have been compiled in fewer than 250 plate appearances, his slugging percentage in New Britain has indeed been markedly lower than in Fort Myers.

Danny Santana
generally hits
leadoff for the
A month ago I thought it likely that Rosario would be playing second base in Minnesota by midseason next year. The emergence of Brian Dozier, coupled with the dropoff in Rosario's performance at Double A, makes that kind of fast-track rise a bit less likely. There are a lot of ways this can go — trade one of the second basemen, return Rosario to the outfield, try Dozier at short again — but there's no real urgency to make a decision.

Shortstop Danny Santana, 22, is going to be prominent on the offseason prospect lists as well. While I haven't seen him at all (I did see Rosario a little in the Midwest League last year) and am thus at risk of "scouting the stat sheet," I'm skeptical on Santana.

The batting average is fine (hitting over .290), but the walk/strikeout ratios continue to be unimpressive and the defense remains sloppy (31 errors and counting). The Twins have historically not done well at developing shortstops, and while Santana has the physical tools to play there in the majors, the qualities he should be developing have yet to show up in the numbers.

New Britain's pitching staff has been in flux much of the summer, and bears a good bit of the blame for the poor record. It's not obvious who's getting the start today for the RockCats. My guess is B.J. Hermsen, who made the 40-man roster last winter after a good 2012 with the RockCats but has not had a good year by any means (1-9, 5.53). He may well lose his 40-man roster spot this winter.

Excluding the injured Alex Meyer, the top pitching prospect on the RockCats is probably Trevor May, acquired from the Phillies in the Ben Revere trade last winter. May has been the one mainstay in the rotation; he's repeating the Eastern League and is basically putting up the same numbers. Command and control are his issues. He pitched Thursday, so he's not going tonight.

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