At this time last year, Rosa was on track to turning in a fine year in the Midwest League. He had already been named a Mid-Season All-Star and would finish the season leading the league in doubles (43); fourth in RBI (81); fifth in hits (141) and seventh in average (.293).
Rosa ended the season with a nine-game hitting streak and in that span was 15-for-39. His performance was good enough for the bump up to Daytona to start 2009.
But for some reason, Rosa never really found his groove in the Florida State League. In 69 games with Daytona, he batted .220. His doubles were down to 19. Rosa’s smooth stroke with the bat had eluded him and he was sent back to Peoria to find his swing.
Chiefs manager Marty Pevey noticed one of the problems with Rosa’s swing right away.
“He’s got the same problem (Ryan) Flaherty has got,” Pevey said. “Instead of going down and through the zone when they swing, their front side (leg) opens up and their hands are dragging.”
A Pevey illustration showed a good swing plane to look like a flattened check mark, where the batter should swing on a straight downward angle through the zone, elevating the bat at the point of contact with the ball.
When Flaherty and Rosa open up and drag their hands through the zone, this creates a dipping, upper-cutting arc where a hole in the swing can be found.
This hole occurs where contact with the ball should be made, resulting in swinging and missing the pitch, getting under the ball and popping it up, or hitting weak groundballs. In essence, the ball is not being struck with the meat of the barrel of the bat.
Part of the problem, Rosa says, is him trying to add more power to his swing this season. Last year, he hit only seven home runs in 481 at-bats.
“I think trying to put more power on my swing hurt me a little bit,” Rosa said. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve been trying to go back to the basics and let the power come. I’m 21 years old and hopefully I will add it as time goes on. I’m not too worried about the power. I know with time it will get there.”
So far, Rosa has started to find his swing again in Peoria. Even though he has only two doubles, he has collected 17 hits in 55 at-bats, giving him a .309 average.
Rosa’s hard work on game days and off days alike is the reason for his newfound success.
“He’s working down in the cage every single day,” Pevey said.
“I’m working with (hitting coach) Barbaro (Garbey) on some stuff. We’re finding some things out about my swing,” Rosa said. “I feel like I’m getting better.”
Rosa is also continuing to work on his fielding. A season ago, he split time at third and first, and is keeping the same schedule this season.
“Last year, I played the first half mostly at first and then the second half they switched me back to third,” Rosa said. “This year I’ve been playing third and first. As long as I’m the lineup, I’ll play both. I know I’m capable of helping the team at either one. I feel comfortable at both of them.”