As the Nationals have pulled farther and farther away in the National League East, the main chatter coming out of Queens lately centered around when -- not if -- Mets top prospectAmed Rosario would be called up from Triple-A Las Vegas.
Rosario finally got that call this week, and he's already given the Mets a shot in the arm over his first three games in orange and blue -- just maybe not in the way the team's fans might have expected.
Rosario's first Major League hit came Tuesday in Colorado, when he hit a grounder deep in the hole to shortstop Trevor Story and legged out an infield single. He added a triple Wednesday, then did this Thursday in the Mets' 5-4 loss to the Rockies:
One couldn't help but notice the .328/.367/.466 slash line for Rosario, MLB Pipeline's No. 2 overall prospect, over 94 games in the Pacific Coast League this year. There were also plenty of raves about his range at shortstop. Rosario's speed was seen as more of a bonus behind his bat and his glove; a tertiary skill that MLBPipeline.com rated at 60 on the 20-80 scale.
But based on Rosario's first big league impression, that rating may have been conservative. Not only does Rosario have speed -- he appears to have elite-level speed that could signal a breath of fresh air for the Mets.
"It brings a new dynamic for sure," Mets right fielder Jay Bruce said of Rosario's triple on Thursday. "That's a double for almost everyone else on the team and to have him in scoring position right there, it's very valuable."
Statcast™'s Sprint Speed metric measures a player's speed on the basepaths based on his fastest one-second window, and it's quickly helping us determine the fastest players in the Major Leagues. While Rosario does not have the requisite 10 minimum max effort runs to qualify for the Sprint Speed Leaderboard just yet, his first three hits as a big leaguer provide a tantalizing glimpse into his athleticism. The 21-year-old reached 30.6 feet per second on his infield single, 28.9 feet per second on his triple Wednesday and 29 feet per second on his follow-up Thursday.
Consider that the MLB Sprint Speed average is 27 feet per second -- with Billy Hamilton and Byron Buxton currently leading the Majors at 30 feet per second -- and one realizes the Mets might have something special on their hands.
"He can change the game with his speed," said Bruce, "and it looks like he's going to be able to change the game in a lot of ways. I'm excited about it."
Rosario's speed would be a valuable addition to any club, but it's an extreme change of pace for the Mets as they look toward 2018 and beyond. It's no secret that New York is a club that relies on the home run, and their 25 stolen bases is the lowest total in the National League.
The Mets currently don't have a single player within the Top 50 on the Sprint Speed Leaderboard, and team leader Juan Lagares (28.2 feet per second average) hasn't played since June 15. Yoenis Cespedes, undoubtedly the Mets' most dynamic player of late, has battled leg ailments dating back to last summer. Jose Reyes, the team's former spark plug, is in his age-34 season. As New York moves forward, a young talent like Rosario could add another dimension with his athleticism.
"It's good to see," Reyes said of Rosario's fast start. "He was kidding about it earlier, he said, 'I got two [triples] and I've got 100 more to go to catch you.' So I told him, 'Stay healthy. The position's going to be there for you for a long time.'"
Mets fans certainly hope Reyes' prophecy comes true; that Rosario takes the baton from Reyes as the club's shortstop of the future. It's not hard to remember when New York enjoyed sustained success last decade with Reyes wreaking havoc in front of sluggers like Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and David Wright.
"I told [Rosario] he needs to steal more bases because he has to take advantage of that speed," Reyes said. "Because when you have speed, you have to put it out there."