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Confident Rosario off to fast start in spring

Shortstop hit .294 over final 50 games in 2018
@NathalieMLB
February 27, 2019

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- After a disappointing start to his first full Major League campaign in 2018, Amed Rosario hit his stride during the last two months of the season, showing the offensive prowess that made him a top prospect not too long ago. And while the sample size

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- After a disappointing start to his first full Major League campaign in 2018, Amed Rosario hit his stride during the last two months of the season, showing the offensive prowess that made him a top prospect not too long ago. And while the sample size may be small, so far this spring the Mets' young shortstop seems to have picked up where he left off.

Rosario's overall numbers in 2018 were underwhelming -- a .256 average, 76 runs scored, nine home runs, 51 RBIs and 24 stolen bases in 154 games. However he turned a corner over his last 50 contests, hitting .294 with five home runs, 23 RBIs and 14 swipes in that span.

The momentum has carried over. In his first nine Grapefruit League at-bats, Rosario has four hits, including two doubles in the Mets’ 14-6 win over the Marlins on Wednesday at First Data Field. Known for his game-changing speed, Rosario has also showed potential to hit for more power this spring. His second double on Wednesday, hit to straightaway center field, almost went out for a home run.

“I think the key factor has been the confidence I finished with last year,” Rosario said of his hot start.

While Rosario says he is using Spring Training to tinker with a leg kick, manager Mickey Callaway is putting more stock in a change in Rosario’s posture at the plate that Callaway believes will help with discipline and pitch recognition. Rosario struggled in those aspects of his game last season to the tune of a 4.1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and was benched in June as a result.

“I like, more than anything, how he’s a little more spread out than he was last year,” said Callaway. “[He was] more upright last year and that down-and-away pitch looks really far away when you’re so upright. I like how he’s kind of spread out now and I feel like he’s going to be able to recognize that down-and-away pitch. It’ll probably give him a little more confidence to cover everything else, so he’s not worried about that pitch out there that looks so far away.”

While Callaway points out that it’s too early to determine if Rosario has turned a corner when it comes to his plate discipline, he did note that the Dominican native is “hitting pitches that he should hit.”

“That’s probably even better than trying not to chase, not missing the ones that you should be hitting,” Callaway said. “Because then you don’t really get to a count where you have to battle and make sure that you don’t chase a pitcher’s pitch. They have to throw a strike over the plate at some point. And if you don’t miss them, you don’t have to worry about that stuff as much.”

For Rosario, part of preparing for his second full season in the Majors has been getting acquainted with his new double-play partner, fellow countryman Robinson Cano, whom the Mets acquired along with closer Edwin Diaz in a trade with the Mariners in December.

Callaway hopes the veteran Cano will become “like a big brother” to Rosario -- much like the departed Jose Reyes was last year -- and the two middle infielders have quickly embraced the roles of mentor and mentee.

Rosario, 23, says the main lessons he’s learned from Cano so far are “his patience and the consistency in his game.”

Cano, who talked about mentoring Rosario back in December when he was introduced at Citi Field, says he can already see the talent that so excited the Mets when they first called him up to the big leagues in August of 2017.

“I see him as a special player,” said Cano. “He has great talent, great ability. The best thing about him is his youth. He listens. He wants to learn. What I see in him is great potential to become a superstar.”

Nathalie Alonso is part of the editorial team of LasMayores.com, the official MLB page in Spanish. Follow her on Twitter @NathalieMLB.