Mets SS Amed Rosario hit two home runs Sunday and provided a glimmer in to the dynamic, smooth and powerful player he projected to be when making his debut last summer.
It would be a godsend if Rosario emerged this season as the player we all hope he can be and helped lead the Mets to a long winning streak. The thing is, he's still 22 years old. So, instead of an immediate All Star, he's been a typical young player, showing signs of amazing talent in a sea of pressure and learning curves.
I realize we live in a league where it seems every day a new phenom emerges to step in to the spotlight. But, there are far more young players who are making their debuts in line with Rosario, who has produced a career OPS well below average.
In the last two weeks, though, Rosario is batting .302 with five extra base hits, and just six strikeouts. He is also not chasing as many pitches out of the strike zone and he's making more contact. And, the balls he is hitting are being hit with more force and in the air.
"He's a maturing, young hitter that's starting to command the strike zone better and I think he's starting to come in and find out what his potential is," hitting coach Pat Roessler said last week in Cincinnati. "I think he's got a lot of room for growth. While some rookies might be close to finished products, he's got some room for growth and we know that."
My hunch is that Rosario is on his way and we're about to see a significant boost in power, especially during the second half of this season. When all is said and done this season, I still think he'll net out around 5-10 home runs, 20-30 doubles and a .250-or-so batting average, which would mean he had a more than acceptable second half. And it would be a great jumping off point for next season and what I believe will be a fun career...
This past weekend, the Braves released 3B Jose Bautista, who they had signed to a minor league deal in April. He was just 5-for-35 (.143) with two home runs after joining their big-league roster on May 5.
He is 37 years old, two seasons removed from any sort of production at the plate, he strikes out a ton and is probably standing with one foot on field and the other already in retirement. That said, for a team like the Mets, who are so short on outfielders that they're turning to Wilmer Flores, Jose Reyes and Dominic Smith for help, Bautista might be worth a temporary flyer.
I'd ordinarily not consider such an option, but with Juan Lagares out for the season, Jay Bruce nursing plantar fasciitis, Michael Conforto still not totally himself, and Yoenis Cespedes out with a hip injury, Bautista doesn't look that bad.
I'm all for Flores getting time at other positions, but he's all ankles at no matter what position he is playing, and I don't think roaming the outfield will be a great fit for him.
In other words, when considering all of the above, the paltry .330 OBP and 11 home runs Bautista was projected to hit this season actually seems like the best of all bad choices.
Speaking of the young Smith, the Mets have said he is only getting exposure in the outfield so he can gain experience and give them options on the big-league roster. He is still very much a first baseman, where he returned to playing Sunday in Triple-A.
"The way he's been moving around, the way he's been working, he's a really good athlete," manager Mickey Callaway said Sunday. With the injuries we've had, it makes some sense for him to go out in right field and get some reps. ... This only gives Dom another option to be able to make it back up here and contribute."
In 35 games for Las Vegas, Smith is batting .282 with a .392 OBP, but he has just two home runs. He hit just .198 with nine HR and 26 RBI in 49 games after making his debut with the Mets last season.
I like the idea of having Dom help where needed. But, long term, I'd hate to see the organization further complicate his development by moving him off a position where he has the potential to win a Gold Glove.
Meanwhile, Smith's minor-league rival, Double-A 1B Peter Alonso, who may be destined for such a switch. Alonso is a slow-footed big kid, right handed and with a powerful, quick arm. Most scouts that have watched him don't feel he has the chops to handle first base in the big leagues, but with his build and bat, which projects to be a middle-order run producer, left field might be a good fit.
The buzz in baseball indicates a decent trade market may be starting to take shape. For instance, in addition to Manny Machado being on the market, recent reports have the Red Sox talking to teams about C Blake Swihart, the Royals moving Mike Moustakas, and the White Sox listening to offers for 1B Jose Abreu.
My hunch is Sandy Alderson is more likely to -- at the very least -- make minor additions to the 25-man roster before considering trading his best big-league talent for prospects. Obviously, this could change if the Mets have another massive losing streak. But, so long as they keep treading water and remain at or above .500 and in contention during July for a Wild Card spot, I can't see any way he'll quit on his new manager and the balance of 2018.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!