Cubs Prospect Interview: Jovan Rosa

INF Jovan Rosa was one of the final draft-and-follow signees from the Cubs' 2006 draft class. After officially joining the club in May of last year, Rosa went on to hit .340 in 39 games with the Mesa Cubs of the Arizona Rookie League before heading to Class Low A Boise to close out the 2007 season.

Rosa, 20, was a 22nd round Cubs draft pick in 2006. But rather than sign right away, he returned to Lake City (Fla.) Community College, where he batted .359 with nine home runs, 16 doubles and 56 RBIs in 55 games. That earned Rosa the 2007 Mid-Florida Conference Player of the Year award and helped further solidify the Cubs' interest in signing him.

He went on to reward the organization with a .318 average overall – the third highest mark of any player assigned to short-season minor league rosters (minimum 2.7 plate appearances per team game).

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The first official workout date was on Tuesday. What was the first day of camp like for you and the rest of the position players in your group?

JOVAN ROSA: I actually came to the mini-camp, so I got a head start and I feel in good shape. The workout was pretty much the same thing we always do, (only) we had a lot more people. You have to pay attention to what you're doing because you never want to be lost. You have to be in a lot of different places in a lot of different times, so you have to be sure to stay on top of what all is going on.

You got off to a blazing start last year in the Arizona Rookie League after you came to terms with the club. Were you pleased with the numbers you put up?

ROSA: When it came to the numbers and stuff, I felt really good about it. I expected a lot, and I pride myself on being a competitor. So when it's all said and done, I think I did a pretty good job and I feel that I was able to show everybody and prove to everyone that I could compete at the professional level.

You spent some time in Puerto Rico this past off-season. Can you tell us what your first winter ball experience was like?

ROSA: Puerto Rico was great. We didn't actually play in a league, though. The league got cancelled so it was more of a workout and a winter training program. But it was great and we got to work with a lot of major league coaches like Ivan DeJesus and Jose Oquendo. I think I improved myself a lot during the off-season with the workouts we got, and I think I've come into (camp) in good shape and ready to make a team.

What type of hitter would you describe yourself as? Tim Wilken, the Cubs' Scouting Director, told us you have a good-sized body with some power.

ROSA: At this point, I'm improving on a lot of things as a hitter. I'm a corner (infield) guy, so I'm expected to be more of a power hitter. Right now, I'm just working really hard to be both a gap-to-gap and a power guy.

Along those lines, what have you done to speed up that process and to quicken your development?

ROSA: Just work hard and work every day on the little things like trying to make my swing a lot more consistent.

You talked about defense and being a corner guy. Do you consider third base to be your primary position now?

ROSA: My whole life, I'd been a shortstop until I got in college. My freshman year, I played third and then my sophomore year I went back to short. Last year (in Arizona) I saw some action at first, but I consider myself a third baseman now. That's the position I'd like to play, but it's not bad to think that I could play more than one position.

You were a 22nd round draft pick, but your college coach, Tom Clark, said he thought with the season you had a year ago at Lake City, you would have been a top-five pick.

ROSA: Yeah, and I expected the same thing. My freshman year, I had a really good season but I got picked kind of late so I went back. Then when it came to signing, I thought it was a pretty good deal. I consider whatever I got good enough.

How much did the extra year of college ball help you?

ROSA: It helped a lot. To be honest with you, if I had come here without that extra year of college ball, it would have been that much harder for me. Going to Lake City Community College was amazing. Coach Clark's program is so much like playing professional baseball that when I got here, nothing was really new. You feel like you've been doing it the past two years under Coach Clark. That helped me mature a lot, not just as a baseball player but as a man.

We know one of your goals is to make a full-season team out of spring camp. Along those lines, what are some of the things you feel you need to improve on to make sure you're at that level for the entire season?

ROSA: I have to improve on everything. Just making one of these clubs is not enough. In order to make it to the major leagues, which is my ultimate goal, I feel I have to improve on everything. That includes hitting, defense, and everything that has to do with the game.

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