At first, the request from her younger brother was simple: Come visit.
And Yanitza Rosario thought something along the lines of “That sounds fun,” so she headed to Las Vegas to see her little brother.
When she arrived, however, Amed had a much bigger request for her.
“He didn’t tell me that he wanted me to stay,” Yanitza Rosario said. “He was like ‘Oh, come for one week,’ and then when I get here, he asked me ‘Oh (can you) stay here?’”
When she arrived in Las Vegas and “saw the reality” — Amed living on his own in his Henderson apartment — she said she felt a little sad. She knew what she she had to do.
“He’s my little brother so it’s my job,” Yanitza Rosario, who had been working at the Dominican consulate in New York, said.
Amed’s job, of course, is to play baseball, now for the 51s, but soon — though not soon enough for most Mets fans — in New York.
There is no given timetable for his stay in Las Vegas, but the Mets have made it clear that they will not rush the uber-talented prospect, who, for all his hype, is still very young at just 21. So for now, he’ll stay at Triple-A, where he will continue to develop both on and off the field.
‘Good things … about to happen’
Amed Rosario is the crown jewel of the Mets farm system — and it’s not hard to see why.
He is a smooth defensive shortstop, often making difficult plays look routine.
He enters Friday hitting .356, fourth in the Pacific Coast League and his 67 hits are second in the league. He leads the 51s with 32 RBIs and 10 stolen bases.
“The way he plays the game — that’s the one thing that impresses me the most,” manager Pedro Lopez said. “It’s not so much about the arm. It’s not so much about his speed. It’s just watching him go out there, smile every time and just have fun.
”That’s what you want any player to play like. He plays the game right, he plays the game hard and when you see the game played that way, you know that there’s only good things that are about to happen.”
ESPN’s Keith Law rates him as the top overall prospect. MLB.com has him third. Baseball America, fifth.
Though he was signed for $1.75 million in 2012 — the largest international signing bonus the Mets have given — and the talent was always there, he really started to cement himself as a top prospect at the beginning of last season.
In 2015, Rosario hit .257 in 103 games at Class-A Advanced St. Lucie. He came up to Double-A Binghamton at the end of the season two games.
Instead of starting the 2016 season in Double-A, the Mets sent him back to St. Lucie.
“The player that I saw last year in spring training was completely different,” Lopez said, compared to his brief stint at Double-A in 2015 where Lopez also coached him. “The at-bats were a lot better. He wasn’t swinging — he wasn’t chasing as much.”
Minor league field coordinator Kevin Morgan said before that point, Rosario was “playing with physical ability,” because he had the tools to do that. The mental approach, from a hitting standpoint, started coming around at the beginning of last season.
“I think you could start to see it click where he was understanding what he was trying to accomplish and then he was able to stick to it and ultimately start to execute it,” Morgan said. “I think that may have been the time when it started to really show that he could take it to the next level.”
This season has been a continued progression.
Mechanically, hitting coach Jack Voigt said there is very little work he needs, though they are trying to keep him solid in his lower half and keep his legs underneath him. With 46 games played above Double-A, the big focus is in seeing how Rosario adjusts to more advanced pitching.
“For him now, it’s just seeing and experiencing different types of pitchers, how they’re going to pitch him, how teams will pitch him,” Voigt said. “These four-game series are big for his development because the first game, they’re going to pitch a certain way and then they’re going to make adjustments and then can he make the adjustments as he goes?”
Don’t be surprised, be ready
Rosario’s day will come. Maybe it’s after the “Super 2” deadline, the date that will shorten his number of arbritration years. Maybe it’s after the All-Star break. Maybe it’s beyond that.
He doesn’t know when it will be, so he’s trying his best not to focus on it.
“(I’m) just worried about doing (my) best and it’s God’s will whatever happens,” Rosario said through a translator.
When a fan recently asked on Twitter when he thought he would be called up, he responded by saying he wasn’t sure and that if he thought about it, it would distract him.
“He knows he’s good enough that he’s going to play in the big leagues but he’s not so wrapped up in it that he’s worried about ‘What’s the score tonight? Did somebody get hurt? Did this happen, did that happen?’” Voigt said. “He just goes out and plays. When he gets the call, he’ll be ready to go.”
So for now, he’s focused on other things, like trying to get used to living in Las Vegas and continuing to acclimate to the culture.
He doesn’t drink, his sister said, so if he does go out, he goes for the the music and dancing.
Teammate Dominic Smith said Rosario was more of a homebody, though at the park he’s always talkative with a smile plastered to his face. Interests include music and fashion.
Growing up, he admired Mets third baseman (then shortstop) Jose Reyes and Smith said he often listens to Reyes’ music.
As far as fashion goes, “He tries to be like me sometimes but I still got to teach him. He tries,” Smith joked.
Learning the language
Often, Amed and Yanitza will go to the movies or stay home and watch movies on Netflix in English. Yanitza will check in to make sure he’s understanding the dialogue.
Though Rosario prefers to do interviews in Spanish, he can more than hold his own in English.
He still takes English classes three days a week and he said it was helpful to have someone around who understands Dominican culture, right down to the food that she makes for him.
“It’s really great having someone here because I’m not alone and I have someone that can help me with English,” Rosario said. “She helps me by cooking. … It’s really great for me to have family here.”
He’s also an active social media user, where he interacts with fans often.
His two signature hashtags #BigAppletite and #DontBeSurprisedBeReady have caught on with Mets fans. They are relatively self-explanatory: He’s hungry for New York and has prepared himself for New York, whenever that call comes.
So, does he feel like he’s ready?
This question he answers in English.
“Yeah. I feel — yeah,” he said, with a smile.
Contact Betsy Helfand at email@example.com. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.
What they’re saying about Rosario
Teammate Dominic Smith: He was a little bit shy but once he really went to High-A his second year, started really playing well, that’s when he really started to develop that confidence, that swagger, just that persona. He just felt like he was the man. Nobody’s better than him and he’s playing like it.
Manager Pedro Lopez: He’s going to be an All-Star. There’s no other way to put it.
Sister Yanitza Rosario: He talks with my mom, my other (sisters), with my dad and he talks to me and we support him and we tell him ‘Enjoy the game, just relax and enjoy the game,’ so that’s what he does.
Hitting coach Jack Voigt: I don’t think he feels any pressure. That’s the refreshing thing about him. He just goes out and plays. He’s very mature and very intelligent. He comes from a good family. Very intelligent to know that if he does what he needs to do, things are going to happen for him.
Minor league field coordinator Kevin Morgan: He loves playing the game. He has fun playing the game, he enjoys it. It’s energetic, it’s lively. I’ve never seen him without a smile.