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TwinsCentric: Rosario and redemption

Posted by: Nick Nelson Updated: June 18, 2014 - 9:31 AM

Despite being perpetually trapped in the shadows of Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano within the Twins' system, Eddie Rosario had firmly established himself as a true upper-tier prospect by the end of the 2013 season.

At the age of 21, he had cruised through Single-A and Double-A, batting .302/.350/.460 between the two levels all while working on the defensive transition from outfield to infield. His bat was so good, and his athleticism so outstanding, that it appeared he may have a chance to make an early impact for the Twins here in 2014.

My, how things change.

As we all know, Rosario was tagged with a 50-game drug suspension during the offseason, costing him a crucial chunk of development time just as he was preparing to graduate to the highest level of the minors.

He was a no-show at spring camp while dealing with "personal issues." And as the season got underway, with Rosario completely out of the picture, Brian Dozier turned his hold on second base into a tight grip, emerging as one of the better players in the majors at the position.

So when Rosario finally returned from his ban late in May, he returned to a dramatically different set of circumstances from the ones that prompted the Twins to experimentally try to switch him from center field to second base a couple seasons ago in an effort to more quickly move his bat up to the majors.

Back then, center field was overloaded and second base was a position with no clear future.

My, how things change.

The embattled Rosario started playing games again at the end of May, opening in Ft. Myers where he got back up to speed with a quick eight-game stint before heading back to New Britain. He's played a bit of second base, but is back to playing mostly in center, where there is now a huge hole in Minnesota.

And while the Twins have plenty of quality arms available in the high minors to supplement their pitching staff, they are lacking reinforcements for their scuffling offense at Triple-A. Josmil Pinto and Deibinson Romero are really the only intriguing bats at Rochester, and Pinto will likely remain there indefinitely to work on his defensive game.

With the Kendrys Morales signing, the Twins made a loud statement that they are in "win-now" mode, with more of their decisions being driven by a desire to improve the current club. If offense continues to be an issue and they find themselves needing a boost later in the summer -- particularly in center field -- they may find that Rosario is in fact their best option.

My, how things change.

He needs to demonstrate complete mastery of the Double-A level -- and perhaps even the Triple-A level -- before the Twins would consider bringing him up, but Rosario is one of the most dynamic hitters in the organization and could provide a critical infusion into the lineup in the second half. As far as his stock has fallen in the past eight months or so, he'd be able to revive it substantially by coming up and making a positive impact for a Twins team that is trying to compete in a weak division.

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