By The Baseball Beginnings Guy
June 6, 2010
You have to have something to walk into Cal State Fullerton and shut down a lineup with an automatic first-round pick, shut up a traditionally loud and feisty crowd, and shut out a strike zone that usually finds a way to shrink.
Minnesota’s Seth Rosin is the classic and traditional Midwestern power arm right-hander. In this look, Rosin lacked the same power duration he had against Ohio State a few weeks ago, when he was 95 several times in the first three innings.
This look, however, was clearly more about pitch-ability, consistency, repitition and stamina than it was about only power. He also had very good fastball life throughout this outing. Rosin hit 94-95 in the first inning, and these have the hints of appeasing the radar guns as well as to keep the weapon in the back of an opposing lineup’s mind.
In this first inning against Fullerton, Rosin was 92-94 on guns inside the park and 93-95 (93) on the TV broadcast. Take your pick because there’s not much of a difference. Either way, he repeatedly overmatched Fullerton in the first inning, adjusted after the second, and spent the next five innings confusing them.
This was my first in-person look at Rosin since the Cape, when I saw him in Summer 2009 as a big-bodied right-hander working hard at 92-93. Over the summer, I saw projection. As Rosin shrinks, the velocity expands. He’s a big guy and you can’t miss it. At 6-foot-7 and 230, the first thing I noticed in the bullpen was that Rosin was trimmer. He’s still going to benefit from pro-level conditioning. He’ll never be a rail, but you don’t want that. Rosin’s strength is to be a big, innings-eating Midwestern ox. He’s an old-fashioned plow horse, physically built with wide hips, strong thighs and broad shoulders.
He shouldered the load in this eight-inning look, which showed a smooth, repetitive and closed delivery. Rosin is incredibly smooth for a tall and burly right-hander with above-average velocity. I felt his arm action was cleaner and less forced than when I saw him on my first look on the Cape.
The trick with Rosin is that he’s talented enough to be a major league starter, but he’s closer to the big leagues as a reliever because he lacks a breaking ball. The imaginative scout might dream about this guy with a breaking ball, with his plus command, winning big as a starter.
The impatient organizational man might say, give me the arm, give me the change-up, give me the control, and let me pay him cheap in the bullpen instead of overpaying some 30-year free agent. Both arguments have their merit, and Rosin complicates the issue, simply because he was so good with other weapons without his top velocity in a big game.
The first thing Rosin showed against Fullerton was improved conditioning and durability. He maintained his fastball velocity at 93-94 through four innings, 90-92 in the fifth and sixth, and 90-91 in the seventh and eighth. That’s not first round velocity, but that’s not the point in this evaluation. Rosin’s fastball command, especially of his two-seam fastball, was an 80 for much of this outing. His control allowed him to pummel the strike zone, move the box around, and attack with his fastball. Even without his true gas, Rosin still showed the ability to challenge hitters to beat him. Walk up to a big league hitter and ask him what the best pitch in baseball is. See if he doesn’t tell you that it’s a fastball on the black.
Rosin’s fastball control is so developed at this stage that it negates the need for a breaking ball in college baseball, which if he’s going to be a pro starter, he’s got to have. If you’re going to pitch out of the bullpen at the big league level, you need two pitches, but as former Arizona closer Jason Stoffel told Baseball Beginnings in 2009, “If you’re going to have two pitches, they better be pretty damn good.”
Rosin falls into the same category, with the caveat that his fastball command is the best right-handed power command I think I have seen in this draft cycle. It is by far the most consistent. That basically allows him to use his two-seam as one pitch, climb the ladder with the four-seam, and then reach back to his Midwestern roots, stamp his heel and snort, and throw high gas at the letters with a message that belies a baby face and says words I can’t print on this web site.
I have often said that velocity alone does nothing for me. I could absolutely care less if a guy throws 94 and throws below-average major league strikes. That is where million-dollar mistakes are made every year, and pitchers are oversold, underdeveloped, and fall off the vine long before they should have. Pitchers who throw hard and have no clue who are rushed to the big leagues are chum to those hitters. They make more money for hitters than they do for themselves.
Rosin’s change-up is a little bit more than bait. It was consistently 77-79 with sink in the middle of the plate. It’s more of a straight change with dive as it decelerates, but Rosin is developing a very good feel for arm slot and arm speed deception. He had the confidence to throw it in fastball counts. I didn’t see him hang any change-ups in this look. If you gave his fastball velocity a 60 grade in this look, you’d have to at least go 50 on the change.
The breaking ball here is a slurve that I thought Rosin didn’t have any interest in throwing, other than as a token look to back end hitters and a reminder that he has it. It was consistently 80-81, comes out of his hand like his change-up but is more of a fade-away to right-handers. The pitch lacked shape or power here, was thrown sparingly, and would be graded at a 40.
His at-bats against the automatic first-rounder, Christian Colon, were most telling about both Rosin and Colon. Rosin liberally used his change-up in order to set up the high fastballs. The selling point is Rosin consistently beat Colon with high gas. This is the hole in Colon’s swing. Long Beach’s Jake Thompson attacked him there and so did Rosin. Each guy got lazy fly balls to right field. And this is with metal. So Colon, as he continues, needs to shorten up and learn to line that pitch to right field and not try to pull and lift it.
As for Rosin, the question is what will lift him to the major leagues the fastest. He has told Beginnings that he likes closing, mainly because he knows that in short stints he’s got two extra miles on his fastball. So you could be talking about a 95-97 four-seam guy, a 93-94 two-seam guy with a put-away change-up at 77-79, above average command of the two-seam, and better command of the four-seam than most guys. That arsenal would remind me of Trevor Hoffman.
More importantly, closing might show you Rosin for what he really might want to be. He can give you seven precise innings. Or he can stamp his heel, snort, throw hard, and plow the ninth.