E-Twins' Rosario had breakout season

Slugger led Appy League in homers, runs en route to MiLBY

Elizabethton's Eddie Rosario led the Appy League with 21 homers. (Tony Farlow/MiLB.com)

By John Parker / Special to MLB.com | October 27, 2011 2:28 PM

When the Minnesota Twins selected Eddie Rosario with their fourth-round pick (135th overall) in the 2010 Draft, he was considered the top hitting prospect from the island of Puerto Rico. As it turned out, that designation sold the young outfielder short.

After a solid debut performance in the Gulf Coast League in 2010, Rosario was a dominant force in the Appalachian League this season. Playing for perennial power Elizabethton, the left-handed hitter led the Appy League with 21 homers, nine triples, 71 runs, 181 total bases and a .670 slugging percentage, finished second with 91 hits, 60 RBIs and a 1.068 OPS, and added 17 stolen bases while reaching base at a .397 clip. For his efforts, he was named the circuit's co-MVP along with Danville's Brandon Drury.

Taylor Lindsey

The Angels' first-round pick in 2010, Taylor Lindsey had an incredible season for the Orem Owlz. Lindsey led the Pioneer League with 64 runs scored, 105 hits and 172 total bases. The Most Valuable Player on the circuit was second with a .362 average, and on June 22, set a league record by scoring six times in a game.
"He compares favorably with some of the better offensive players we've had play for us over the years," said Elizabethton manager Ray Smith, who has been with the E-Twins as a manager or coach since 1987. "He's really blessed with snap in his hands and he's got all the tools: power to all fields, quick hands, good hand-eye coordination."

Though Rosario's power came in surges, his hitting was remarkably consistent throughout the Appy League campaign. He collected at least one hit in 54 of his 67 games and only twice went as many as two contests without a base knock. After the fourth game of the season, his batting average never dipped below .295.

After accumulating seven hits in his first five games -- one a triple, the others singles -- Rosario erupted for five home runs and 11 RBIs in his next four. In a three-game series against eventual league champions Johnson City during the last week of June, he went 5-for-11 with four long balls and garnered the first of his three Appy League Player of the Week awards.

Rosario, who turned 20 in September, was a run-scoring machine all season long. He scored in each of his first nine games, went scoreless against Kingsport on June 30, then reeled off seven more contests with at least one run. Only once did he go more than two games without scoring, and in his final eight games of the season he scored 16 times.

Rosario's next power surge came in mid-July, when he homered in three straight games against Bristol and Princeton from July 19-21.

Over the final two weeks of the regular season, from Aug. 17-30, Rosario put on an offensive display that catapulted the E-Twins to the playoffs and himself to the top of the league's leaderboards. He went 26-for-54 (.481) with 10 homers, 22 RBIs and 25 runs scored in the 14 games and collected two more Player of the Week nods.

One of the storylines involving Rosario throughout the season was his friendly competition with teammate Miguel Sano for the Appy League home run crown. Sano, who spent most of his time at third base with a smattering of work at shortstop, is eight months younger than Rosario. He put on his own surge at the end of the season, clubbing four long balls in his last five games, but finished one home run and one RBI shy of Rosario.

The two players were roommates with the E-Twins, said Smith.

"I sensed a semi-friendly competition for the home run/RBI championship between the two. I think, near the end of the season, the competitive juices really got to flow between them and they both ratcheted up their focus to outdo the other and to help our club in our quest for the title."

The two youngsters will likely team again at Class A Beloit next season. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, they may also become a potent double play combination.

Feeling that their system was deep in the outfield (with players like Ben Revere, Joe Benson, Aaron Hicks and Angel Morales) and had a greater need in the infield, the Twins approached Rosario about working out at second base during fall Instructional League sessions in Fort Myers, Fla. Rosario was all for it and did well enough that the experiment is likely to continue in Spring Training next year.

"We worked him out in the infield during the last month of the season," said Smith. "He took a lot of ground balls. If he can develop at second base, you might have something special: an offense-oriented, run-producing second baseman. There aren't many of those guys around."

If he's able to make the switch, Rosario gives the Twins a bright young prospect at a position of great need. And if not, he has already shown in his short career that he has the tools to play center and the bat to man the outfield corners. Either way, the Twins hope a MiLBY is the first of many accolades to come for Eddie Rosario.

John Parker is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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