Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Top Prospect List: #15 Adam Rosales, 1b
An interesting thing happened to Adam Rosales in 2007. He went to bed one night as a shortstop and woke up the next morning as a first baseman. I'm not sure exactly when it happened or why, but it is a curious move and has a huge impact on his status as a prospect. A move from shortstop to first base is a huge slide down the defensive spectrum.
The positions at the left end of the spectrum are more difficult than those at the right end. Accordingly, offensive production is more valuable from positions on the left end of the spectrum, as there are fewer players who can produce at the more difficult positions. Throughout the course of a player's career, he can typically slide to the right on the defensive spectrum, but rarely do players successfully move to the left on the spectrum.
Put into perspective, moving Rosales from shortstop to first base is about as far as you can fall on the defensive spectrum.
Rosales played for four years at Western Michigan University, following in the footsteps of such luminaries as Ribs Raney, John Vander Wal, and many others. While there, he compiled an impressive list of statistics for a shortstop, which did not go unnoticed by Reds area scout Rick Sellers, who felt that Rosales was undervalued. The Reds subsequently selected Rosales in the 12th round of the 2005 draft with the 362nd overall pick.
Rosales is 6'1, 193 lbs, throws right, and bats right. He has room to improve his strength, which would improve his projection and ceiling. Here's what he did during his four years at Western Michigan University:
Rosales debuted in 2005, making a very quick impression in stops at Billings and Dayton. Between the two stops, Rosales hit a combined .325/.388/.558/.946, which quickly put him on the radar as a prospect to watch.
For his career, Rosales is hitting .285/.368/.492/.860. In 2007, he successfully made what's considered the most difficult jump in professional baseball when he hit a rock solid .278/.377/.549/.926 at Double-A Chattanooga. In 2007, Rosales saw his Isolated Power jump from .197 at High-A to .271 at Double-A. In addition, his Line Drive % jumped from 13% at High-A to 17% at Double-A. That level of performance certainly helped to solidified his prospect status after the position switch.
Rosales has demonstrated strong on base skills throughout the course of his baseball career, but the question is now whether he'll have the power necessary to be an MLB first baseman. His production would have been great at shortstop, but the baseline production at first base is much higher and there's no guarantee that Rosales will be able to reach it.
Clearly, Rosales lacked the skills necessary to stick at shortstop at the professional level. However, it's difficult to understand why the Reds didn't give him an extended look at second or third. All the scouting reports indicate that he has a strong arm, good hands, and decent range. It's difficult to imagine a shortstop at the college level and early in his professional career being unable to play a more challenging position than first base.
Given those defensive skills, he seems able to handle a more challenging defensive position. The more challenging the defensive position, the more valuable the offensive production.
Offensive production that is All Star caliber at shortstop may be below average at first. The move to first base just made Rosales' job on offense that much tougher, as he'll have to improve his power output in order to make it to the majors.
Rosales is currently playing for the Surprise Rafters in the Arizona Fall League where he's been playing first base and batting .289/.360/.467/.827. While those would be solid numbers for a middle infielder, they aren't likely to cut it at first base.
Rosales responded well on offensive to the move to first, posting a solid line of .286/.385/.519/.904 in 2007 at high-A Sarasota and Double A Chattanooga. While that level of production is encouraging, he'll have to continue to develop his power if he's going to remain a top prospect.
Ultimately, the switch to first base may end up robbing Rosales of a substantial portion of his value as a prospect, but he still may be able to take his offense up a notch, so for now he checks in at #15.