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2015 Stock Market Report: Eddie Rosario

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We pick up this set of off-season features by talking about a prospect whose star appears to be on the rise.

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From the end of the 2014 season through the end of November, we featured nine players in our 2015 stock market report series. For the most part they were players whose future with the club was hazy in some respect. The goal was to define the options open for those players, and to see what the organization's decisions on those players would imply for the rest of the roster.

2015 stock market reports
Lester Oliveros |  Mike Pelfrey |  Jordan Schafer |  Aaron Hicks |  Tommy Milone
Josmil Pinto |  Ricky Nolasco |  Anthony Swarzak |  Danny Santana

There are a few other players I'd like to get to as we roll through February. This set of players will be featured because either something has changed, or because the 2015 season has begun to take shape and we have a better idea of what that means.

The first guy on our list is Eddie Rosario. Drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 draft as an athletic outfielder, the Twins moved him to second base in 2012 as the organization had a perceived weakness up the middle. Coming into last season he'd been ranked #60 on Baseball Prospectus' top 100 list for 2014. Coming off of a season that saw him hit .329/.377/.527 in Fort Myers and then .283/.330/.412 in his first taste of Double-A at age 21, Rosario's star was on the rise as a potential second baseman with a nice bat.

2014

In November of 2013, almost immediately after we voted Rosario as the organization's number four prospect heading into 2014, it was announced that the 22-year old would be facing a suspension for an illegal substance which was eventually revealed to be a "drug of abuse," That likely meant marijuana. As a result, Rosario missed the first 50 games of New Britain's 2014 season.

When he returned, Rosario struggled out of the gate. Perhaps it was pressure, perhaps it was too much of an adjustment to make in the middle of a season, but he had more valleys than hills when it came to performance and he ended the season with a miserable .237/.277/.396 line for New Britain in 336 at-bats.

After such a disappointing campaign, when the Twins chose to send Rosario to the Arizona Fall League it was seen as something of a challenge. His previous talent insisted he was much better than his 2014 season implied, and for a player who coming into the year wasn't considered to be that far away it was important to see as much of him as possible to get the most accurate read on where he was in terms of development.

Rosario put some questions to bed with a strong six weeks in the AFL. He hit .330/.345/.410 with ten stolen bases and just missed capturing the league's batting title. Rosario's manager in the AFL, Andy Raines, said this about his star hitter:

"He's some kind of hitter. He's special to watch," Salt River manager Andy Haines said. "I saw him on the other side of the field in the Florida State League two years ago -- he just tore us up. I was anxious to see him as a manager, and he might be better than I already thought he was. And my opinion was pretty high.

"Great players seem to rise to the occasion. I know a lot people in the sabermetrics world like to say there's no such thing as a clutch hitter, but you just see him kind of rise to the occasion."

If there were any doubts about Rosario's upside, the AFL seems to have put most of them to bed.

Competition

Outfield: Aaron Hicks, Jordan Schafer, Shane Robinson, Danny Santana

Infield: Eduardo Escobar, Eduardo Nunez, Danny Santana

After speaking with Rob Antony, who brought up Rosario on a couple of occasions unprompted, it became clear that the Twins' Assistant General Manager (if not the front office as a whole) believes that Rosario is closer to being ready than his poor 2014 regular season's numbers stated. Rosario will play mostly outfield in the minor leagues but also some second base to keep him relatively comfortable and to grant him a modicum of versatility.

Contract status

Eddie Rosario's service time in 2015 would tick away at his rookie eligibility, and if he surpasses that this season would be under team control through 2020. Rosario would then be a free agent for 2021, his age-29 season.

What's his role for the 2015 team?

Antony's willingness to talk so openly about Rosario and the competition for center field in spring training made one thing clear, which was that Rosario has a better chance to play center field for Minnesota than we may have assumed just a few weeks ago.

Does that mean he'll have a chance to play from opening day? It seems doubtful, but Antony made clear that Hicks is not a lock for the center field job. Shane Robinson will be in the mix. Schafer, of all those players, seems the most likely to be guaranteed a roster spot. But it did all seem to point towards Rosario getting a legitimate opportunity, and if he comes in and impresses some people in spring training then I don't think it's outside the realm of reality to entertain the notion of Rosario making the club.

It's not very likely still, of course, but not impossible. Even in the most likely scenario where Rosario doesn't break camp with the Twins and go north, if he continues to play well and stays healthy, if the team needs an early change in the outfield they won't hesitate to call up a guy who has earned a reputation as one of the most athletic and pure hitters in the system.