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Colorado Rockies win on Wilin Rosario walk-off home run

David Martin Avatar
September 19, 2014
Wilin Rosario has the power to be a big impact bat.

What might have been.

That is the phrase that fans of the Colorado Rockies have been saying all season long when it comes to Wilin Rosario. Throughout the course of the season, the catcher has proven to be yet another disappointment in a long line of disappointing catching prospects for the Rockies.

Heading into the 2014 season, many fans were excited to see what kind of progress the catcher would make, both at the plate and behind it. After two full seasons in the big leagues, history suggests that a catcher finally takes the next step forward.

The problem, however, is that Rosario not only didn’t take the next step forward, he took one back. Starting on Opening Day when he couldn’t get on the same page with Jorge De La Rosa, and continuing all season long, Rosario has been not just an average catcher, or a bad catcher, he has been brutal.

The issue with Rosario is that his fundamentals are simply garbage behind the plate. He often finds himself watching a pitch go to the backstop because he attempts to backhand the ball instead of rolling over and blocking it. Catchers aren’t supposed to field the ball like a shortstop, they are supposed to block balls in the dirt.

His mechanics are bad, but what might be worse is his game-calling. For a long stretch, when a young pitcher came up from the minor leagues, it wouldn’t be Rosario behind the plate, it would be Michael McKenry. Rosario just couldn’t be trusted to understand what needed to happen in order to get the young starters through the games.

While Rosario has never been a good defensive catcher, he made up for it with his bat. A catcher who can display power like Rosario is hard to find. If he was hitting 27 home runs per year, like he did in his rookie season, there is no reason not to simply live with the defensive deficiencies. However, the 2014 season has been anything but that.

The problem for Rosario is that other teams have scouts. In the big leagues, when a hitter has a hole, pitchers will exploit that over and over again. For Rosario, that hole is clearly off-speed pitches on the outer half of the plate. Instead of adjusting and either laying off of the pitch or learning to hit it the other way, Rosario tries to turn on it and hit it to left field. What that usually results in is a weak ground ball to shortstop.

Instead of adjusting, Rosario has spent the enter season flailing at the pitch and looking silly doing it. When he has been disciplined and stayed back on it, willing to drive it to the opposite field, the talent is evident.

The Rockies lean heavily on a guy like Rosario. They need his bat to produce, both at home and on the road. Much of the team’s lack of success can be pinned on Rosario’s shoulders. Of course, in a season in which a team loses close to 100 games, it is not one players fault. However, Rosario’s lack of improvement has been a huge weight on the Rockies.

On Thursday night, when Rosario launched possibly the longest home run in Coors Field history, one that was high above the lights and still traveled as far as it did, he shows his talent. It is almost frustrating for Rockies fans to take a look at games like Rosario had on Thursday night and realize what they could be having on a regular basis. The talent is immense. There is no denying that Rosario has the talent to be an impact player. However, he just hasn’t figured out what it takes to be both a good hitter and a good defensive catcher.

The reality is, the season that Rosario has had is forcing the Rockies to look at their options. Much of the struggles that the pitching staff have collectively had might have something to do with Rosario’s terrible defensive skills. It might be time for the Rockies to decide that Rosario either needs to move positions, or be traded to an American League team where he can be a full time designated hitter. The idea that he can still develop into a good defensive catcher is fading away quickly.

Watching Rosario crush the ball like he did on Thursday night is bittersweet. It shows the talent that he has, it shows what he can do. However, it also shows how much the Rockies have missed out on because he hasn’t improved as a hitter. He hasn’t grown up and adjusted to what scouts have had their pitching staffs attack. The mark of a good hitter is one who can figure out what pitchers are trying to do to get him out and make adjustments.

The Rockies got a moon-shot walk-off home run from Wilin Rosario on Thursday night, but all it did was show how much the club has missed from him offensively in 2014.

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