PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (CBSNewYork/AP) — In a Mets’ clubhouse where Spanish words flow freely, a two-word description of Amed Rosario might be the best in any language.
You don’t have to be a slick-fielding, multi-skilled, young talent from the Dominican Republic to understand the meaning of that — The Future. Prior to being sent down to the Mets’ minor league camp on Tuesday, Rosario hit .296 and showed the flashy defensive skills and fleet feet that have the shortstop ranked as the organization’s top prospect.
Rosario left quite an impression during his short stay in the Grapefruit League.
“He’s got to go play. He’s shown me everything that needs to be shown,” Mets manager Terry Collins said Monday.
The 21-year-old Rosario played a career-high 120 games in 2016, starting his second season at Class A St. Lucie and being promoted to Double-A Binghamton on June 23. He finished with a combined batting average of .324 — a sizzling .341 at the higher level — and was selected to play in the MLB All-Star Futures Game.
“He hasn’t hit for power in camp, but you know he’s got it,” Collins said. “He’s got great hands, he’s got great poise on the field and he loves to play, got great energy. He’s going to be a good player.
“He’s just got to go out and do what all good players do and that’s get out there and play 140 games in the (Triple-A Pacific) Coast League and put up huge numbers. You’ve got a pretty good-looking prospect in the wings,” he said.
With David Wright sidelined by health problems and Jose Reyes moved over to third base, Rosario and Asdrubal Cabrera were left at shortstop in exhibition games. Rosario’s playing time increased when Reyes left camp to join Team Dominican Republic at the World Baseball Classic.
“There is no doubt in my mind he would like to walk into my office, which he won’t do, and ask for a day off because he’s out of gas,” Collins said at the time.
Rosario, a free spirit who kids around with his teammates, interacts with fans on social media, works hard to improve his game and has fun on the diamond. He’s also added 10 pounds of muscle to his frame by arriving early and working out.
When asked who his favorite shortstop was growing, his quick answer was a countryman – “Reyes,” he said.
Reyes began his career with Mets in 1999, and his legacy might not be his play on the left side of the infield but rather in Rosario’s overall development.
“I’m so thankful that I have people like Jose,” Rosario said through a translator early in camp. “Jose doesn’t just give me advice on the field. He really tells me how to carry myself off the field.”
No one had a better view of Rosario than Mets catching prospect Tomas Nido, who is also still in his first big league camp. From his vantage point behind home plate, Nido has watched Rosario turn apparent base hits into groundouts with spectacular glove work.
“He’s a monster,” Nido affectionately said of his friend and teammate of seasons in Brooklyn and St. Lucie and multiple minor league camps. “He’s lived up to the expectations and proved everyone right.”
Nido, the organization’s top-ranked catcher whose .320 average won the Florida State League’s batting crown last year, added: “It’s like Reyes is his older brother. He looks up to him and they’re on the same team as well. It’s really cool to see that grow in front of your own eyes.”
Rosario and Luis Guillorme, an outstanding defensive shortstop in his own right, formed a daunting double-play combo in the FSL. With Rosario expected to be at St. Lucie for the first half of 2016 and Guillorme on the way up, the latter moved to second base, and the pair provided superb strength up the middle.
Guillorme said the two of them immediately clicked.
“It was easy to get along with him. It was a good half of a season we had together,” said Guillorme, who was also in the Mets’ clubhouse but was sent over to the minors in Sunday’s first cuts.
NOTES: Minor league OF Tim Tebow got his first hit for the Mets, an opposite-field single to left in the fifth inning against Miami LHP Kyle Lobstein. Tebow, 29, was hitless in his first eight at-bats. … Neil Walker hit a two-run homer for the Mets in their 6-4 win over the Marlins. Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson and Cabrera hit solo shots.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)