Teams usually want their top prospects to stand out on the baseball field. However, first-year bench coach Dick Scott and other New York Mets coaches are quite pleased that 20-year-old shortstop Amed Rosario just blended in after getting borrowed from minor league camp to appear in three Grapefruit League games.
“For such a young guy, playing at a very competitive level, he just holds his own,” said Scott, who previously served as the organization’s director of player development. “He’s never been overwhelmed by the situation that he’s been in. In fact, some of the major league coaches were commenting when we brought him over a couple of times this year that if you just look out there, you couldn’t pick out which guy was the minor-league guy when he’s standing there.
“He’s just got all of the tools. His physicality is more pronounced this year than it’s been in the past. What he needs is just to have a really good season, because he’s been playing so much younger than the league that he’s been in. I don’t mean just a year -- like three and four years younger. So it’s kind of hard to catch up. But I think this is the year he’ll catch up.”
The Mets handed Rosario a $1.75 million signing bonus back in 2012 -- the largest figure ever handed out by the organization for an international teenager. Rosario indicated that the Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals were the other teams to most seriously pursue him.
The youngest player in the Florida State League last season, Rosario nonetheless hit .257 with 25 RBIs and 12 steals in 385 at-bats.
“At first it was a little difficult trying to figure out the strike zone, but over the course of time I was able to make adjustments,” Rosario said through an interpreter. “My biggest improvement was with the strike zone. I shrunk it over the course of time, which allowed me to have a good season last year.”
With St. Lucie failing to qualify for the postseason last year, Rosario moved to Double-A Binghamton to continue action in the playoffs. Rosario, though, will return to St. Lucie to open 2016.
Scott is now on the major league staff and not intimately involved in the decision, but he believes it may be logical to leave Rosario in the Florida State League for the first half of the season, which begins Thursday.
“I haven’t sat in those meetings,” Scott said. “But I’ve got to think, in a perfect world, that he plays half a season in the Florida State League and the rest of the year in Double-A.”
Rosario’s presence will shift slick-fielding shortstop prospect Luis Guillorme, who also is assigned to St. Lucie, primarily over to second base for the time being. Guillorme represented Spain at shortstop in World Baseball Classic qualifying last month.
Rosario spent the first part of the offseason in his native Dominican Republic. He reported to Port St. Lucie in early January and began working out at the Barwis Methods facility at the Mets’ complex. Rosario said he gained 10 pounds of muscle as a result of his offseason workouts. He now checks in at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds.
There once had been questions about Rosario outgrowing shortstop because of his size. That no longer appears an issue.
“Long term I see myself playing shortstop,” he said. “I’m working out to make sure I maintain my agility at shortstop to stay long term.”
2015 ORGANIZATION LEADERS
Average: Kevin Kaczmarski, Kingsport, .355; Patrick Mazeika, Kingsport, .354; T.J. Rivera, Binghamton, .331; Gavin Cecchini, Binghamton, .317; Luis Guillorme, Savannah, .314; Jeff McNeil, St. Lucie, .312; Matt Oberste, St. Lucie, .306; Dominic Smith, St. Lucie, .305; Luis Carpio, Kingsport, .304.
Homers: Travis Taijeron, Vegas, 24; Josh Rodriguez, Binghamton, 19; Alex Castellanos, Vegas, 16; Brandon Allen, Vegas, 16.
RBIs: Dominic Smith, St. Lucie, 79; Josh Rodriguez, Binghamton, 74; Travis Taijeron, Vegas, 69; Brandon Allen, Vegas, 66; Matt Reynolds, Vegas, 64.
Steals: Patrick Biondi, Savannah, 36; Wilfredo Tovar, Vegas, 30; Jonathan Johnson, Savannah, 23; Champ Stuart, St. Lucie, 21; Kevin Kaczmarski, Kingsport, 20.
ERA: Thomas McIlraith, Kingsport, 1.71; Martires Arias, Savannah, 2.29; Casey Meisner, St. Lucie, 2.35; Merandy Gonzalez, Kingsport, 2.57; Robert Gsellman, Binghamton, 2.58; Nabil Crismatt, Kingsport, 2.90; Ricky Knapp, Savannah, 2.97; Adonis Uceta, Kingsport, 3.07; Tyler Badamo, Brooklyn, 3.21; Corey Oswalt, Savannah, 3.52.
Wins: Robert Gsellman, Binghamton, 13; Scarlyn Reyes, St. Lucie, 12; Darin Gorski, Vegas, 10; Casey Meisner, St. Lucie, 10; Corey Oswalt, Savannah, 10.
Saves: Paul Sewald, Binghamton, 23; Jon Velasquez, Binghamton, 22; Akeel Morris, Binghamton, 13; Jimmy Duff, St. Lucie, 13; Alex Palsha, Savannah, 13.
The Columbia (S.C.) Fireflies play their first-ever game on Thursday, when the South Atlantic League affiliate opens its inaugural season at Charleston. Columbia is home to a new 9,000-seat ballpark. The Mets had an SAL affiliate in Columbia from 1983 through 2004. That ’04 Capital City Bombers squad included future major leaguers Yusmeiro Petit, Lastings Milledge and Matt Lindstrom. The Mets affiliate played the past nine seasons at Historic Grayson Stadium as the now-defunct Savannah Sand Gnats.
Rafael Montero starts Thursday’s opener for Las Vegas, while Robert Gsellman starts for Binghamton, Josh Prevost for St. Lucie and Chase Ingram for Columbia. Vegas’ rotation also includes Seth Lugo, Gabriel Ynoa, Sean Gilmartin and, for the time being, Stolmy Pimentel.
Las Vegas will have a crowded infield, with Gavin Cecchini, Dilson Herrera, Matt Reynolds, T.J. Rivera and Danny Muno all assigned there. Cecchini and Herrera will be the priorities in the middle infield. Rivera should see some time in left field.
Despite being unable to participate in big league camp because of rehab from a partial tear to a tendon in his left foot, 2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo healed in time to break camp with Las Vegas. Nimmo participated in the final week and a half of minor league games during spring training.
Right-hander Matt Blackham, a 29th-round pick in 2014 out of Middle Tennessee State, suffered a fracture in his right arm and was due to undergo surgery in New York on Tuesday.
Jeff McNeil, whose .312 average last season with St. Lucie ranked second in the Florida State League, arrived in camp this year considerably stronger. McNeil indicated that he gained 35 pounds during the offseason. When minor league coordinator Rafael Landestoy spotted McNeil in the major league clubhouse during spring training, he made a flexing motion at the former 12th-round pick out of Long Beach State.
Vegas-ticketed outfielder Travis Taijeron received the organization’s John J. Murphy Award as the top performer in his first big-league camp. Taijeron hit .366 (15-for-41) with two homers and a team-high 11 RBIs during exhibition play. Past winners include Travis d’Arnaud (2013), Lucas Duda (2011), Ike Davis (2010), Jonathon Niese (2008), Joe Smith (2007), Jose Reyes (2002) and, yes, Garth Brooks (2000).
Jayce Boyd, who has transitioned from first base to outfield, remained behind in Florida when Vegas broke camp. Boyd continues to be slowed by an issue with his right, throwing shoulder. Back in 2013, Boyd was limited to DH duty the final three months of the season because of thoracic outlet syndrome.
Venezuelan infielder Luis Carpio, 18, underwent surgery to repair a right labrum tear and will miss the 2016 season.
Vegas has a pair of local products in its bullpen: Paul Sewald and Chasen Bradford. Sewald, who will live with his family while playing for the Triple-A club, already got a chance to pitch at Cashman Field. He tossed three scoreless innings in a start against the Chicago Cubs last Thursday.
The Mets sold right-hander Ricky Jacquez to Tijuana in the Mexican League. Jacquez was drafted in the 25th round in 2013 out of Central Arizona College.
Team officials are not ruling out right-hander Marcos Molina -- Baseball America’s No. 6-rated Mets prospect -- appearing by the end of the year, although that may only be in the instructional league. Molina underwent Tommy John surgery in September.
2015 second-round pick Desmond Lindsay twice was struck in the head with pitches in minor-league camp. Team officials suggest Lindsay is OK. He already was ticketed for extended spring training before those head blows.
“Farm Report” appears on Wednesdays during the regular season.