Quad Cities River Bandits outfielder Rainel Rosario is our choice as the top player in the St. Louis…
Selected 2010 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Dustin Mattison (32): The product of the Cardinals' academy in Venezuela came on strong in his abbreviated 2010 season. After staying in Florida for extended spring training, Rosario pounded the ball at Batavia and was awarded with a promotion to the Quad Cities.
The outfielder didn't seem to miss a beat and was named the Cardinals August Player of the Month after hitting .300 with seven home runs. In 137 at bats, Rosario posted an OPS of .927 along with an impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio of 37-to-26.
He needs to cut down on his long swing and improve on his strikeout rate of 27%. Rosario has a natural uppercut to his swing that enables him to get good loft on the ball. The 21-year-old is a potential five tool talent that has been described to me by someone in the organization as a tool shed. With another strong performance next summer, Rosario could rank among the top prospects in the system.
Message board community (30): Rainel Rosario was the community's 30th prospect as well. This was his first time on our list. He posted decent OBP's in the GCL at age 19 (.358) and in the Appy League at age 20 (.350). But this year, his OBP jumped to .386 in the New York-Penn League at age 21 and then he simply crushed the ball at Quad Cities, with an OBP of .387 and SLG of .540 in 168 plate appearances.
My fellow summarizer Carioca really should be writing this one because he did the research I'm about to cite. Carioca looked at the last 12 years of Quad Cities data (including when they were a Twins affiliate). Only 11 players had 100 or more at-bats and an OPS over .900, and nine of those 11 have made the majors, with most being starters. Brandon Buckman and Xavier Scruggs are the two exceptions, and Scruggs still stands a chance.
Whereas Rosario had played a lot of center field earlier in his career, all but one of his 2010 appearances was in one of the corners, mostly left field. He did register four assists to a single error at Quad Cities. He'll be one to watch out of the gates to see if the momentum from last year carries forward. - Gagliano
Brian Walton (28): We kick off our second ten with only the second new name so far on the list. Rosario stayed behind following spring training due to an ankle injury, but upon joining Batavia, took off. While capable of playing all outfield positions, Rosario seems profiled for the corner. While still improving as a fielder, he has proven he has enough arm for right and also played in left in 2010.
I asked his manager from the first half of 2010, Batavia's Dann Bilardello, his view of the youngster. The skipper very much likes what he sees and isn't terribly concerned about the strikeouts.
"The ball jumps off Rosario's bat different from a lot of people's," Bilardello explained. "He hit .300 for us this year. He is a free swinger and any time you have a power hitter, he is going to strike out a little bit. You can take that if the average and power numbers are there."
"It is pretty incredible," the manager continued. "He is not a small guy and he is not a big guy. The ball just explodes off his bat. For a kid, he hits the ball as hard as I have seen it when he hits the ball on the nose. That is a scary proposition. It is now a matter of being consistent. I think he can get to that point. Then you'll really have something there."
For 2011, Rosario will come to camp and likely compete for a job with A-Advanced Palm Beach, but it would not hamper his growth to return to Quad Cities to start the season, either.
Our 2011 top 40 countdown continues: To see our entire list of 40 Cardinals prospects, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.
© 2010 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.