Last offseason, the Rockies signed catcher Ramon Hernandez to be the starting catcher until catching prospect Wilin Rosario was ready. Well, Hernandez injured his hand and has been out since May 24th. As a result, Rosario has assumed the full time catching duties for manager Jim Tracy, and has flourished.
Since taking over the starting catcher's role on May 24th, Rosario is 23-79 at the plate with 5 HRs, 4 doubles and 17 RBIs. For the season, he is hitting .252-.286-.530 with 11 HRs, 23 runs and 32 RBI in 151 at bats. That puts him on pace for 26 HRs and 75 RBI this season. But, if you prorate his 2012 production over 450-500 at bats, you get something like 33 HRs and 96 RBI. Quite impressive for a young catcher who does not walk. Actually, looking at his walk totals, he has walked 7 times this season, it is quite apparent he hates to walk.
In just 151 at bats of production, here is how Rosario ranks amongst all fantasy catchers thus far:
4th in home runs
10th in RBI
15th in BA
4th in SLG
2nd in ISO
22nd in plate appearances
It is fun to extrapolate his current production over a full season, but Rosario has some flaws at the plate as well. The previously mentioned walk issue. He is walking in just 4.3% of his at bats, and looking at his minor league walk rates in the upper minors, he never walked more than 7.1% of his at bats (AA). He walked in just 4.5% of his at bats in AAA IN 2011, so it is fair to say he won't be walking much in the big leagues unless he changes his approach at the plate.
Most power hitter strike out a lot as well, and Rosario is fitting the description well this season, as he is whiffing in 26.1% of his at bats, which is a bit higher than his K rates in the upper levels of the minors: 19.2% in AA and 21.4% in AAA. He will have to learn to shorten the swing with 2 strikes if he wants to cut down on the strikeout rate, and at 23 years of age, he has time to work on that.
With the Rockies struggling to win games of late, and taking an non-traditional path with their starting pitchers, it stands to reason that the team will be in sell mode within the next month. What that should tell fantasy owners is that the team will be willing to watch Rosario learn to take a walk and work on cutting down his strikeouts, while allowing him to swing for the fences, as the Rockies starting catcher, even when Hernandez returns from the DL.
Rosario could finish the season with somewhere around 500 at bats, and with that should be solid power numbers, with lots of strikeouts. He won't go 33-96 this season, but if he comes close to the 26 HR-75 RBI projection, he will be in high demand heading into 2013 drafts.