Rosario, Whalen, Flexen Crack Appy League Top-20; Rosario Ranked #1!

By Satish Ram

September 26, 2013 No comments

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So three Mets cracked the Appalachian League’s Top-20 Prospect list, and Amed Rosario came in as the #1 prospect! How about that for good news? Clint Longenecker was the man who put this together for Baseball America, and I was very pleased to see some of my favorite guys end up on this list. Here’s some of what they had to say on Rosario:

“He could be a star,” a scout said. “He is 17 and can drive the ball to right-center field like a man. He has very good feel to hit and his swing generates a lot of leverage. I think he can have 20-25 home run power. I think he can be a shortstop because he has all the tools and he can run.” Rosario makes things look easy defensively, showing good feet around the bag and the range and body control to make any play at shortstop. He has good hands and a plus arm with the ability to throw from all angles. Managers expect him to reduce his error total with experience and they say he could remain at shortstop, but he could also profile at third base as he fills out. Rosario also drew rave reviews for his hitting ability. He has above-average bat speed with natural whip and a rare ability to drive the ball and create loud contact for his age, and he excels at hitting to the opposite field. He will need to shorten his stroke, improve on handling pitches on the inner half and polish his strike-zone discipline.

“He can…drive the ball to right-center field like a man.” That is one of the single best phrases I’ve heard to describe Rosario so far, and it basically states that he is pretty good at getting the ball to the opposite field with power. That scout sees the same things that Teddy K. and I do in Rosario — shortstop of the future with 20+ home runs. I’m really glad to hear compliments about his defense, because that was a source of worry, and I think he’s got about a 65/35 shot to stick it at shortstop, where his bat is more valuable. I know he’s got some work to do on his swing, but he’s 17, and easily brings the hype that Wilmer Flores once did as he was moving through the system. And here’s Whalen and Flexen, respectively…

Mets fine-tuned his mechanics, and those tweaks, combined with a professional throwing program, helped him rediscover his stuff and finish second in the league ERA. Whalen showed a low-90s fastball that touched 94 mph with above-average movement, and the incorporation of a sinker in addition to his four-seam fastball gave him a 2.4-to-1 groundout-to-flyout ratio. He has an advanced ability to throw strikes, and his offspeed stuff played up because of it, allowing him to use it in fastball counts. He throws a changeup, curveball and slider, and the best of the three is a high-70s curveball with three-quarters tilt that is consistently above-average. He has an average fastball that sits in the low 90s, and his velocity could improve as he matures. He gets good downhill plane, though the pitch can lack life. Flexen has a solid-average curveball that has improved dramatically, with good depth and late tilt. He also throws an average changeup and a slider. With command of three average or better offerings, polish and a delivery that offers deception, he should advance as a starter.

You all know that I’m a fan of Robert Whalen, both as a pitcher and as a person, and I’m glad to see him end up on this list. Any young pitcher with a solid GB% is on the right track, and Whalen’s got good command of his fastball and off-speed stuff. As they mentioned, he can throw his off-speed pitches in breaking ball counts, which is one of my favorite things to say about young pitchers. BA might be a little higher on his curveball than I am, but it’s not like there isn’t room to polish his pitches, as he is just 19 years old.

As for Chris Flexen, I think he’s one hell of a fastball, and the curveball flashed some serious dominance over the course of his best starts this season. I like his delivery and overall mechanics, and I think that fastball/curveball combination will get him through the minors with relative ease. Refining the change-up and slider, which are fringe pitches with the potential to improve — especially the change — could define his level of success in the future. I think his future is bright, and he — like Whalen — has room to improve because he is just 19 as well.