A scout who recently finished a trip through the upper levels of the New York Mets system came back with a laptop full of negative reports.
Dominic Smith? "Overweight, out of shape, moves like he's 50 [years old]."
Hansel Robles? "Spiraling downward."
David Thompson? "Not as good as I expected."
Oh, but he loved Amed Rosario. Everyone loves Amed Rosario.
Presumably Sandy Alderson loves the 21-year-old shortstop, too, given that Alderson is the Mets general manager and Rosario is the team's prized prospect, perhaps even the best prospect in all the minor leagues.
So what's he still doing in Las Vegas, playing for the Mets' Triple-A team while the major league makes a last best effort to save its season?
"I don't understand why he's not there," said the scout, who works for a National League team. "He's the best shortstop they have, by far. It's perplexing to me."
It's perplexing to many of us. Various baseball columnists in the New York newspapers have called for Rosario's promotion for weeks, and Alderson has offered mostly quips or difficult-to-understand explanations in return.
For a while, you could understand the Mets sticking with Asdrubal Cabrera, given how well Cabrera played for them last year. But Cabrera went on the disabled list, and when he returned the Mets moved him to second base.
They've stuck with Jose Reyes, which would have been fine if this were 2011 and Reyes was on his way to a batting title. He's not, not even with a three-hit night Wednesday that raised his batting average to .202. He's 34 years old, and as much as everyone likes his energy and enthusiasm, he's not a quality major league shortstop.
Rosario would be.
"I'm not saying he's a better player than [Carlos] Correa or [Corey] Seager," the scout said. "But he's better defensively than either of them."
It's harder to know if Rosario will hit in the major leagues. His walk/strikeout numbers aren't great (18 walks, 55 strikeouts in 336 plate appearances), especially for a Mets team that emphasizes strike-zone discipline.
His overall numbers have fallen off recently in Triple-A, with just a .230 batting average this month, going into Las Vegas' game Wednesday night. The scout discounted those numbers, though, saying he thinks Rosario has been dragged down by being stuck playing with a last-place Las Vegas team.
"He looked like he had lost a little of his passion and energy, because of how bad that team is," said the scout, who has seen Rosario play many times in the past.
Rosario was still named to the Pacific Coast League All-Star team, which was announced Wednesday. He retweeted the announcement himself, and also retweeted this video of his game-winning triple for Las Vegas Tuesday night:
The Mets have been a sub-.500 team, too, but Wednesday's 8-0 win over the Miami Marlins was their fourth in the last five games. Meanwhile, the Colorado Rockies, current holders of the National League's final wild-card spot, have lost eight in a row.
The Mets remain 10 games behind the Rockies (and 11.5 games behind the first-place Washington Nationals in the NL East), but they're just approaching the halfway point of the schedule. Making up all that ground will be a challenge, particularly with four starting pitchers and a closer on the disabled list and with the front office already considering a midseason sell-off of veterans.
Perhaps Alderson's plan is to wait to see if he can trade Cabrera before calling Rosario up. Perhaps he and his staff really believe Rosario will benefit from more Triple-A time.
"We want to make sure when Rosario or any of our other top prospects come up, we don't want them to go back," Alderson said in a press conference during the Mets' last homestand.
Oh, you mean like Mike Trout, who went back to the minor leagues after his first major league call-up? He was Rookie of the Year the next year and could have been the Most Valuable Player.
Rosario isn't Trout, we don't think. But on MLB.com's current list of baseball's top prospects, he ranks third, behind Yoan Moncada of the Chicago White Sox and the injured Gleyber Torres of the New York Yankees. ESPN.com's Keith Law ranked Rosario even higher, putting him atop his list of prospects in April.
Law ranked Torres right behind Rosario. Third on the list was Cody Bellinger, who also began the season in the minor leagues.
The Los Angeles Dodgers called up Bellinger April 25. As you may have heard, he's had a little success since then, and the Dodgers have gone 43-16, going into Wednesday, since they added him to their lineup.
There's no guarantee Rosario would have the same impact. There's every reason in the world for the Mets to find out.
Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.
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