After Eddie Rosario, playing left field and hitting third for the Salt River Rafters, opened the game with a strong throw and a home run, I issued a tweet that almost certainly set a personal record for responses:
Would SO much rather see Rosario in LF in 2015 than Torii Hunter.
— Edward Thoma (@bboutsider) November 15, 2014
Call it the Rosario Scenario.
That tweet drew both agreement and disapproval. Brandon Warne gives a rational reason to oppose the Rosario Scenario:
Not me. Rosario had a rough transition season. Needs time. RT @bboutsider: Would SO much rather see Rosario in LF in 2015 than Torii Hunter.
— Brandon Warne (@Brandon_Warne) November 15, 2014
In truth, Rosario vs. Hunter is a false choice. Hunter isn't likely to return to the Twins; he wants a team closer to contention. The Twins are typically conservative with prospects, and they will probably agree with Warne that Rosario's big AFL season doesn't outweigh his lousy regular season.
Which doesn't make that caution the right choice.
The AFL is a pretty good league, made up largely of Triple A- and Double-A players. Rosario, whose "hit tool" -- the ability to get the barrel of the bat on the ball -- has never been in question, hit consistently there.
He's got a quality arm. He runs well enough to have been a center fielder before the attempt to convert him to the infield. I'm willing to chalk up his Double A struggles to the drug suspension that wiped out his spring training and first two months of the year.
I'm certain of this: Eddie Rosario right now is a better defensive outfielder than Torii Hunter. Yes, Hunter is the most decorated outfielder of the past 15 years. He's 39 now. He ain't the Gold Glove wizard he once was. I'd rather go with the guy with a future than the guy with the past.
Set the Hunter fantasy aside. Rosario may not be better in the field than Aaron Hicks or Jordan Schafer, but he's not likely to be much worse, either. And I'm certain he'll outhit either.