While it may very well end up being nothing, the Cubs claimed lefty reliever Randy Rosario off waivers from the Twins Friday afternoon. A 23-year-old from the Dominican, Rosario made his professional debut six years ago and spent his first five seasons with the Minnesota organization at the rookie and A-ball levels. Tommy John surgery cost him most of 2014, but he bounced back strong the following campaign.
Rosario was at high-A for most of 2016 and got a little run at AA near the end of the season. He began 2017 at high-A once more, but was quickly promoted and logged 57.1 innings at the AA level. He even got a shot of espresso with the Twins in June, making his MLB debut on the greatest day of the year (June 2, my birthday) and logging 2.1 innings in two appearances.
This past season was his first as a full-time reliever, which allowed the 6-1, 200-pound southpaw to really cut loose with the fastball. While he worked in the low 90’s as a starter, shorter stints saw him sitting 94-95 mph and touching a few ticks higher on occasion.
Combined with a sharp slider, Rosario was really effective against left-handed hitters. The sample isn’t huge, but he posted 10.6 K/9 and limited 59 opposing lefties to a .169 average at AA Chattanooga this past season. As promising as that is, it’s tempered somewhat by his struggles against right-handed hitters (5.6 K/9, .296 avg). An utter collapse in August and September isn’t a great look, either.
The Cubs’ 40-man roster sits at 33 after the pickup, so no corresponding move was required. If nothing else, this is a low-risk pickup that could net a hard-throwing LOOGY.
Ed. note: The above was initially published without knowledge that we had a second piece working. For a little more scouting info on Rosario, check out Brendan Miller’s commentary below.
On the surface, Rosario’s numbers suggest he is nothing but a filler and will have a low likelihood of success. On the other hand, he’s a 23-year-old lefty who can reach upwards to 97 mph with a four-seamer and 90 MPH with a slider/cutter, which he throws almost exclusively while flashing a changeup.
Although the data comes from just two innings of work with the MLB team, Rosario’s velocity was greater than about 80 percent of MLB lefty relievers. So too was his vertical release point. You can clearly see just how over-the-top Rosario is in the video below.
Rosario should receive a strong look from the Cubs staff during Spring Training, and, if he performs well, could be a bullpen candidate in 2018.
Teams have to build bullpens by more than just signing free agents. Sometimes, the most dominant relievers were never heard of until the moment they became dominant, such as Felipe Rivero with the Pirates. Rosario certainly has the raw talent to make you blissfully dream that that could be the case.