Scouting Jays Prospect #20: Francisco Rosario

Rosario is a big arm guy, and a big prospect

The Blue Jays signed Francisco Rosario as a non-drafted free agent on January 11, 1999. Rosario has progressed up to Triple-A in the Jays system even though he missed the entire 2003 season due to Tommy John Surgery. One big question that remains is whether he is a starter or a reliever. Find out the answers to that question, as well as what talent evalutors, and Dick Scott had to say about Rosario, by reading our scouting report on Rosario.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Francisco Rosario
Position: Pitcher
DOB: June 18, 1980
Height: 6'0
Weight: 160
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Rosario began pitching in 1999 with the Dominican Blue Jays at age nineteen. He appeared in eighteen relief appearances and went 1-0 with a 3.06 ERA. In thirty-two innings, he allowed twenty-six hits, eleven walks and struck out thirty-eight batters. In 2000 he once again pitched in the Dominican Summer League and this time appeared in twenty-six relief appearances. He went 2-0 with a 1.22 ERA. In thirty-seven innings he allowed twenty-one hits, seven walks and struck out fifty-one batters.

After a rather lackluster start to his American debut in 2001, Rosario broke through in a big way a year later. In 2002, he excelled to the point where he was showing the potential to become the top-pitching prospect in Toronto's system. Following an excellent stint with the Charleston Alley Cats (A, SAL), Rosario was moved up to Dunedin (High-A, FSL) and proceeded to dominate, posting an ERA of 1.29 while giving up a stingy 33 hits and striking out 65 batters in 63 innings. In 129.2 total innings that year, between Charleston and Dunedin, Rosario posted a 1.95 ERA, while only allowing 83 hits and striking out 143. At age 22, he was on a fast track to the big leagues.

Unfortunately, for Rosario and the Blue Jays, that track was temporarily derailed in the fall of 2002, thanks to the ever-growing phenomenon known as Tommy John Surgery. Rosario missed the entire 2003 minor league season, and his rising star was forced to take a momentary backseat.

Tommy John Surgery is becoming more common year to year, but modern medicine has made the procedure safer and easier to recover from. In fact, according to world-renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews, Tommy John Surgery has roughly an 85% success rate. Power pitchers like Kerry Wood, Billy Koch and John Smoltz did not lose their overpowering stuff after surgery, and Blue Jays starter Pat Hentgen claims that his arm now feels "like [the surgery] never happened." It does normally take about a year of real game pitching for pitchers to start showing signs of their former selves.

Rosario is just beginning his comeback trail. He spent the end of 2003 in Dunedin's Instructional League, where Blue Jays representatives kept him under their strict supervision, and in 2004 spent time with Dunedin, New Hampshire and worked in the Arizona Fall League.

Rosario began the 2005 season on a hot streak, but as the year went on he lost his effectiveness and by August the Blue Jays converted him to the bullpen. Rosario appeared to settle down a little when he pitched out of the pen, but talent evaluators believe the arm stress, as a starter, was too much for Rosario to handle.

"By the summer months you could tell something was wrong," one scout said. "His endurance was not there."

Rosario logged a career high 116 innings in 2005. His previous high was 75, which he recorded in 2001 and since 2002 his highest total innings were 48.

The organization currently has Rosario pitching in winter ball and pitching out of the rotation. Rosario appears to be pitching much better this winter than he did over the summer months, but his future with the organization is in jeopardy, as we will talk about below.

"He is another big arm guy, a big time prospect, and you really can't have enough of those type of arms" Dick Scott, the Jays Director of Player Development, said before the 2005 season.

Year

Team

W-L

IP

H

BB

K

ERA

2001

Medicine Hat

3-7

75.2

79

38

55

5.59

2002

Charleston

6-1

66.2

50

14

78

2.56

2002

Dunedin

3-3

63

33

25

65

1.29

2004

Dunedin

1-1

17.1

16

11

16

4.67

2004

New Hampshire

2-4

48

48

16

45

4.31

2005

Syracuse

2-7

116.1

111

42

80

3.95



Repertoire: Fastball, changeup, slider

Fastball: Rosario has a very good fastball that he currently throws in the 90-92 MPH range, and some feel it will go back to the 94-96 MPH range it was before his Tommy John Surgery.

Other Pitches: The one drawback in Rosario's pitching repertoire is that he does not have an effective third pitch to go along with his fastball/change-up combo. He currently throws a "slurve", which is a sloppy version of a slider/curveball mix. Rosario needs to tighten up his slider to make him a more effective pitcher. Rosario has an extremely effective change-up that he throws in the 84-88 MPH range, but his slider is the pitch that needs works. He can get by as a reliever with his fastball and changeup, but will not be as effective.

Projection: If Rosario does not end up with a third quality pitch, his future will be as a reliever. We would like to see him develop a true slider, and then see how much his performance improves. Although Rosario pitched as a starter in Winter Ball, his future is in the bullpen.

2006 Outlook: The Office of Major League Baseball granted Rosario a fourth option year, and it's almost certain he will begin the 2006 season with Syracuse.

ETA: Rosario will likely need another 50-100 innings in Triple-A before he can be considered a major league ready player.

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