TCN 2012 Cards Prospect #30: Rainel Rosario

The promising outfielder's momentum slowed in the pitching-friendly Florida State League. Will he rebound in Double-A in 2012?

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2011 and career stats)

2011 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
30 OF 3/29/1989 6-1 185 R R 2006 FA

Selected 2011 stats

PB 0.270 455 52 123 19 6 9 70 40 112 15 0.333 0.398 0.730

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

CariocaCardinal (29): Rainel Rosario is player who I have rooted for and supported strongly for the last couple of years. In 2009 and 2010, this was an easy thing to do as he was one of the most exciting young players in the Cardinals system.

In 2011, I continue to be on his bandwagon - though it has been much harder than the previous years as his production has fallen off dramatically. To be honest, at this point it is simply a position of faith.

Rosario's 2011 season was as disappointing as his 2010 season was exciting. While it is not uncommon for players to have reduced offensive years while playing at Palm Beach, Rosario's performance was excessive in its regression. He declined in batting average, in his walk rate and in his power production (ISO SLG%). The few bright spots on his 2011 resume were getting his line drive rate up to 17% (not great but it had been at 13% and 6% the last two years), keeping his rate reasonable (22%) and setting a career high in stolen bases with 15.

Despite his weak season, Rosario was still slightly above average offensively for the Florida State League, and after a full season there, I expect the Cardinals to move him up in 2012 to Double-A Springfield. There, I expect Rosario to put up strong offensive numbers in the hitter-friendly environment of the Texas league.

Message board community (38): Rosario slipped to #38 in the community rankings, after placing 30th last year. Primarily a right fielder for Palm Beach this year, the 22-year-old Dominican saw his OPS drop nearly 200 points from his outstanding Quad Cities performance of a year earlier.

Though he has sometimes flashed very good power - in 2008 and 2010 in particular - Rainel's bugaboo has always been the strikeout. He continued the trend in 2011 with 112 whiffs in 122 games.

There were, however, two bright spots to Rosario's disappointing high-A season: (1) he gunned down nine baserunners while committing just three errors; and (2) he hit much, much better with men on base than with the sacks emptied. Specifically, with no one on, he batted a punchless .224, but with anyone on, his line was a superb .318/.362/.498. So the optimist in me hopes those numbers indicate some underlying-but-fixable concentration issue. - BobReed

Brian Walton (30): As Rosario learned in 2011, Palm Beach – and the Florida State League in general – is a tough place to play. Still, he remained one of, if not the top hitter on his club. Though helped by the loss of competition when Zack Cox was dispatched to Springfield, Rosario led the A-Advanced club in a several diverse offensive categories. They included batting average, multi-hit games, RBI, triples and stolen bases.

The right-handed hitter suffered through major cold and hot spells. His three four-RBI games (while his teammates collectively had none) and team-best 15-game hitting streak are reminders of the latter as was his .409 average for the final week of the season. He also disappeared for entire months at a time, as his .210 August indicates.

"Rosario has a major league tools, and was one of the better, more complete athletes in the Florida State League," Palm Beach hitting coach Jeff Albert told me. "Given his age (slightly under league average) and lack of at-bats at a full season affiliate coming into 2011, he made some positive strides offensively…"

As noted above, Rosario is on track to move up to Double-A in 2012. Here is a promising comparison. His stats this year were similar those of our top Palm Beach player in 2010, Alex Castellanos, who had a very strong 2011 with Springfield before being traded to the Dodgers for Rafael Furcal. Of note is the fact Rosario was 2 1/2 years younger during their respective FSL stints. Castellanos hit for more power with Palm Beach, but Rosario has the same kind of bat speed and raw power.

When all is said and done, the fact that Rosario was prospect number 30 both last year and this indicates that substantial progress was not made in 2011. We shall see what 2012 brings, but it seems unlikely it will be more of the same.

Our 2012 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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