Saturday night I had the pleasure of catching a game between two of the New York Penn League’s best teams, the Tri City Valley Cats and the Mets’ own Brooklyn Cyclones. Let me tell you MMO, we can begin to get excited about a couple farmhands on that roster, specifically Marcos Molina and Amed Rosario.
I expected to be impressed by Molina, based on the glowing scouting reports and his numbers this season. After his 10-strikeout performance, I certainly was. However, it wasn’t his 90-92 mph fastball that wowed me. I found his slider and changeup to be particularly special considering his age and level. The slider moved down and away from righthanded hitters and made several Tri City players look completely overmatched. The pitch was thrown around 82-84 mph. Molina’s change was thrown in the mid-70s and had excellent sink down the strike zone. He appeared to throw it equally to batters on both sides of the plate.
In the midst of this breakout season, Molina has upped his strikeout to walk ratio from 3.07 in 2013 to 5.06 this year. His walk rate, a particular concern with any young pitcher, has also improved from 2.36 last year to 2.12 walks per nine this season. We will certainly hear more from Marcos “La Maquina” Molina.
I was looking forward to watching shortstop Amed Rosario as well. I’d read many a glowing report on the young man’s talent, character and work ethic. After watching him this weekend, I have to say I am very impressed.
Rosario is listed at 6’2″ and 170 pounds, a sturdy athlete by any standard. But his movement around the infield is fluid and effortless. At 18 years of age, much can change physically. That said, I would be surprised if Rosario had to move from shortstop.
What most impressed me was a play in the early innings. A Tri City batter hit a hard ground ball past Molina toward the second base bag. I was sure the ball was destined for center field. Like a cat, Rosario glided effortlessly to the ball, scooped it up and made a running throw to first base for the out.
At the dish, Rosario was even more impressive. He had two hard-hit doubles on the evening, though his first hit should have been a triple. The runner ahead of him on base fell rounding third and had to retreat to the bag, forcing Amed to stay at second base. Both hits rocketed off his bat. Michael Conforto‘s ninth inning homerun notwithstanding, I’d say that Rosario hit the ball with more authority than any Cyclones hitter.
All this aside, Rosario is several years from Citi Field. But there is reason to be very excited about the young man’s future. He’s improved from last year and he’s playing in a league where he is about two years younger than the average NYP league player. His strikeout rate per plate appearance has gone from an unhealthy 19% in 2013 down to 15.7% this year. In addition, Rosario has upped his walk rate from 4.9% to 5.9% in a year. His 2013 on-base plus slugging average of 637 has climbed to 715 this year. All proof positive that Amed Rosario is developing nicely.
I won’t go as far as to say the future is bright. But it’s a sunnier forecast than 2014, that’s for sure.
(Photos by Jim Mancari, MMO)