SAN DIEGO — Amed Rosario is only 20 years old and has a total of 16 games at Double-A Binghamton on his resume. But standing in the visitors’ clubhouse at Petco Park, speaking to reporters before Sunday night’s Futures Game, Rosario looked and acted the part of a fast-track prospect.
He was composed and confident, yet had a humility that is useful in a sport so predicated on failure. He also had a lean, 6-2 frame with room to add muscle.
Teams usually are hesitant to describe any minor-league player as “untouchable” during trade season, but for the Mets, Rosario might as well be wearing the label across his chest.
The only place Rosario is headed is Citi Field, most likely for the 2018 season, to again give the Mets a homegrown star at shortstop. Then again, for someone as talented as Rosario, maybe he’ll force a promotion even earlier.
At this time last year, Michael Conforto was in a somewhat similar position, waiting to take batting practice for the Futures Game at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. Conforto was 45 games into his stay at Binghamton, but with speculation that the Mets might summon him, he proclaimed himself ready to help out in Flushing.
Conforto went 2-for-2 in that Futures Game. Twelve days later, he started in leftfield for the Mets.
While there’s no need to rush Rosario anytime soon, with Asdrubal Cabrera signed through 2017, you get the sense he’ll be prepared for the call when it does come. “I feel on one side, yes, it’s close,” Rosario said through an interpreter. “But on the other side, I know I still have a lot of work to put in to really get there.”
Rosario is off to a fast start at Double-A with a slash line of .424/.462/.610 through his first 16 games and three triples (no home runs) in 59 at-bats. Another bonus of being at Binghamton recently: playing alongside Jose Reyes, a fellow Dominican whom Rosario always has admired.
“I think it was a huge help getting to spend time with him,” Rosario said. “I think he’s a tremendous person, a tremendous human being. Just getting the advice from him to just really stay happy, stay positive, was great.”
Dominic Smith, his first baseman at Binghamton and Sunday night’s starter for the U.S. Team, gushed about Rosario, describing him as a “dynamic player” with “stellar defense” who’s “grown tremendously” in a short period. As for Rosario, he believes his defense needs work but otherwise has taken the recent promotion in stride.
For the Mets, the Futures Game served as a crystal ball of sorts in featuring Rosario and Dilson Herrera, a duo that should be the team’s double-play combination before too long. That didn’t happen Sunday night. Rosario got in at short but Herrera entered late at DH, and the two hit back-to-back singles in the ninth inning in the World Team’s 11-3 win.
Herrera, 22, was making his second appearance at this prospect showcase, the first coming in 2013 as a member of the Pirates. At this point, however, Herrera is anxious to graduate. He’s already played 49 games with the Mets, split between the previous two seasons, and seemed to be in the mix for another promotion in June when David Wright was lost with a herniated disc in his neck. But instead of re-arranging the infield, the Mets chose to sign Reyes. Herrera would have to wait.
“No, I wasn’t thinking about that,” said Herrera, who is batting .274 with a .319 on-base percentage and 12 home runs in 73 games for Triple-A Las Vegas. “I can’t control that. I just can control my work.”
With Reyes’ resurgence, and Neil Walker signed through the end of this season, Herrera likely won’t get his shot at the second-base job until 2017. By then, it will seem overdue.
“I feel ready,” Herrera said. “I’m ready to go.”