In the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, San Juan, is the birthplace of many prominent ball players; Mike Lowell, Jorge Posada, and 66ers very own Angel Rosa. Rosa is a 22-year-old infielder who has shifted to an outstanding utility player for the 66ers.
Rosa didn’t spend much time in the capital after he was born. He went east to Los Luquillos until his parents divorced at the age of two. After the separation he went West of San Juan to Guaynabo with his mother and later attended the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and High School in Gurabo, Puerto Rico. Rosa planned on getting drafted out of high school but suffered a knee injury during his senior year that lead to not being scouted.
Rosa got the opportunity to come to the states for college where he attended Alcorn State University. Alcorn State is a small Division-I University in Mississippi. Rosa decided to pursue a pre-medical degree while attending Alcorn State, but due to a busy baseball schedule and an interest in physical therapy, he decided to pursue PT, which he could see himself doing as a career. After three seasons at Alcorn State, Rosa batted a combined .293/.362/.415.
In 2013, after three successful years at Alcorn State, Rosa was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the 29th round of the MLB Amateur Draft. Rosa spent his debut professional year in the Pioneer League with the Orem Owlz and later, moved up to the Burlington Bees of the Midway League. He finished off the 2014 season with the Inland Empire 66ers batting .348/ .390/ .464, and has returned for the 2015 season. He's already making an impact for the 66ers, ending last month with a .327/.351/.423 slash, and it has not gone unnoticed by the coaching staff.
Rosa has stepped into a large role for Inland Empire. After a couple starts at first base and left field, Rosa is seeing the field differently contrary to playing shortstop, his natural position, but describes the experience as “fun and a good challenge.”
Sixers manager, Denny Hocking, is quick to compliment Rosa’s performance since he came off the bench.
“I think that anything that Angel Rosa has done this year has been looked upon really well," said Hocking. "In his mind he is an everyday player. He feels that he has that kind of skill level.
Rosa has fallen victim to a depth chart role, and a potential star taking his starting spot in Cuban prospect, Roberto Baldoquin.
"Unfortunately, right now for this organization, he has value as a role player. That being said I think he was shocked initially when he was told in spring training, but he’s made his role important to his career."
Rosa, the Angels, and Hocking have had to find creative ways to give Rosa playing time, moving him around the field from the entire infield to left field at times.
"I think we all know he has the ability to play shortstop. It’s having the ability to play left field, first base, third base, and adding value, and he’s done a really nice job. He's probably been the most productive player on the offensive side of the ball. Defensively we kind of challenged him to take care of the baseball in games, but more importantly during practice and he’s done a really good job of taking care of the baseball."
Hocking continued to describe Rosa as a player who demonstrates maturity by being able to understand that he is a piece of a puzzle for what the team needs.
Rosa describes himself as an aggressive gap-to-gap hitter. He adds that his approach in dealing with the mental aspect of the game. He mentioned that one day he struggled in batting practice but later went on to do really well during the game because it’s the, “mental game of tricking yourself that you’re going to do good.”
Hocking agrees and believes a lot of Rosa’s success is due to his mental approach, belief, and how he can draw off the success he’s had the in the previous season with the 66ers.
Hocking gives Rosa credit with the ability to swing at a ball on the first pitch of an at bat, wipe it out of his memory, and get back to what his pitch is. Again, Hocking emphasis Rosa has done a great job doing that with the 66ers.
This year Rosa hopes to help the team win in every way he can and has accepted his role with the 66ers. Rosa did admit that he is a “stats guy” and likes looking at his numbers. Individually, he hopes to go out on the field and have fun, adding, “The numbers will take care of themselves.”
Rosa shows a lot of athleticism that is seen on the field, but it’s not just on the baseball field that he’s been successful at. His athleticism began at a young age and so did his desire to travel and explore other countries.
“When I was a kid I used to play a lot of sports," said Rosa. "Basketball, volleyball, baseball, and I went to Cancun, Costa Rica, and Cuba.”
When in Cuba, Rosa won a basketball championship, but overall Rosa has been successful on the ball field. He won two Little League World Series and placed second twice.
In hopes of having a successful career and a ring after making it to the show, Rosa hopes to finish traveling the world after. After various journeys due to playing sports, he has grown to love exploring. He describes himself as someone who doesn’t like to stay at home too long and enjoys being out. Rosa hopes to visit Europe and Japan since he hasn’t been on that side of the world and would love to make a trip out there as soon as his career ends.
Rosa’s family is back in Puerto Rico so he, like other ball players, doesn’t have the ability to feel at home. Thanks to Booster Club members players like Rosa get to have a family-like ambience. Rosa pays a lot of contribution to his booster family. He has had a booster family since he came to the Mainland for college. His current family is Chris and Melissa, season ticket holders for the Inland Empire 66ers, which allows them to come to every game and be a support system on and off the field for Rosa. He describes living his booster family as very comfortable, always providing a friendly and welcoming environment for him and Victor Alcantara. Rosa repeats that they are a “unbelievable family.”
This allows Rosa to be able to focus on baseball especially in the transition from Puerto Rico to the mainland and different levels of the Minor League Baseball.
“It’s a sense of peace when you know you’re at a good place. You just come out here and play baseball.”
Vanessa Armas is a League Correspondent and Spanish Translator for Scout.com, and can be found on Twitter, @NessaArmas.