Padres Prospect Interview: Leo Rosales

Fort Wayne Wizards closer Leo Rosales has a niche he is comfortable with. He loves coming out of the pen when the pressure is on. The former Cal State starter has been the nail for the coffin, closing any door that has been open all year long.

The right-hander is 3-1 with a 1.60 ERA for the Wizards, adding 18 saves, all since June 2. Prior to that, Leo Rosales was relegated to a middle relief role and before that he had no team that he called home.

Rosales had just three saves with Eugene in '03, coupled with a slim 2.09 ERA. Despite the numbers, the 23 year old prospect, floundered in extended spring while others played ahead of him.

Before long, it became obvious that he needed to be in a full season league and Rosales is thankful after getting the call on May 5.

"First of all, just getting the opportunity to play out here," Rosales said in relief. "I was in extended for a bit and just getting the call up here and taking full advantage of it, first starting out as a middle reliever than a setup and now a closer."

Rosales has come a long way since his time with Cal State-Northridge. The former Matador hurler was a starter throughout most of his career before being relegated to the pen as a Padres prospect. He got his first taste just before the Friars selected him in the 20th round of 2003.

Since then it is the only life the 6-foot-1 right-hander has known.

He pitched in 36 games for the Eugene Emeralds in 2003 and found immense success. In 43 innings he struck out 58 and kept the opposition to a .201 batting average.

The Californian had found a home.

"I kind of like being in the pen," Rosales admitted. "The whole mentality thing is just easier for me. Not that I am saying I can't start. I feel comfortable with where I am at now."

He has been a key component of the Fort Wayne Wizards recent surge. The Wizards coaching staff have given him one responsibility – pitching the ninth inning. So focused have they been that he has not gone more than one inning in any of his last 18 appearances and the results have been visual.

He has gone 2-0 with 18 saves in his last 25 appearances and his success in keeping in tact one, two and even three run leads has been vital. The Wizards are 23-15 in the second half of play and have a commanding lead as they look for a playoff spot. Their record is second best to that of Kane County in the Western Division of the Midwest League in second half play.

"Everybody is feeling pretty pumped up but we have to keep grinding," Rosales said of the playoff push. "There is a long way to go and we can't lose focus."

With a franchise record 49 players being sent through Fort Wayne, could it mean the end of Rosales as a Wizard? His numbers certainly warrant a promotion but the push for the playoffs is also something the Padres have their eye on.

A promotion for Rosales would bring him to his Los Angeles roots. Is it something he is thinking about?

"Ooh," Rosales said to the loaded question. "I really don't know. I am just going to go out there and play and let my abilities and the way I am throwing talk for itself. If they want to move me up, they will move me up."

Despite the team answer that Rosales gives, he can't help thinking about the amenities of playing in the California League, close to home.

"My house is about an hour and a half away! Days off go see the family, friends, cousins and all that. It would be nice."

For now Rosales does his job and does it well – the end all on the Fort Wayne Wizards. When the Wizards have the lead it is money in the bank.

Denis Savage can be reached at

MadFriars Top Stories