photo: Samil De La Rosa (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
The Cardinal Nation’s Top 50 countdown for 2023 reaches no. 45 with an infielder who led his rookie level Florida Complex League team in most offensive categories with intriguing power. FREE report!
Position: Second/third baseman
Age: 19 years old
Height/Weight – 5’8/175
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent on January 15, 2021
Home: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Opened 2022: Extended spring training/Florida Complex League Cardinals (rookie)
Primary team in 2022: Florida Complex League Cardinals (rookie)
Finished 2022: Florida Complex League Cardinals (rookie)
Prior Top 50 ranking – unranked
Click on the above photo to be taken to De La Rosa’s player page at The Cardinal Nation, with additional biography and history information.
Blake Newberry’s scouting report
Blake’s ranking – no. 43
(current grade/future grade)
Samil De La Rosa has done nothing but hit since signing with the Cardinals for $300,000 in January of 2021. The infielder went on to finish his inaugural season with a 134 wRC+ in the Dominican Summer League before making the jump stateside in 2022 where he finished the year with a 121 wRC+.
Though his wRC+ dropped a bit, he actually showed much more power which is perhaps surprising for someone with a listed size of 5’8” and 175 pounds.
His six home runs tied him the Florida Complex League lead despite him being 1.7 years younger than the average league hitter. I’m immediately intrigued whenever I see this kind of power from such a young and diminutive hitter.
One thing that stood out to me while watching De La Rosa is that his bat is quick to the zone and long through the zone. He has quick hands that help him get on plane early and his bat stays in the hitting zone a long time, maximizing his hitting opportunity.
He also generates plenty of power for a player with his frame. That’s most obvious in the image below.
This is a powerful hitting position and it shows what I’ve discussed so far. You can see how his bat is already on plane and coming through the hitting zone despite still being behind the plate. Next, you can see how his back leg is making a right angle. That’s because his hips have generated a tremendous amount of force and are giving him plenty of power.
If there’s anything to nitpick here it’s that his front leg is bent a little bit instead of locking into place. That limits the amount of force he transfers from his lower half to his upper half. It’s only a slight bend in this image though, so it doesn’t limit him too much in this instance.
The 19-year-old has a nice uppercut in his swing built for elevating the ball with a nice, which might be a bit surprising considering his near 50% ground ball rate. That’s less of a swing problem and more of an issue with consistently finding the barrel of the bat.
The ball often comes off the bottom of the bat and he would be even better if he could elevate the ball more consistently by hitting off the middle of the bat.
De La Rosa’s timing mechanism is built around a leg kick and though his timing isn’t always perfect and he is often out in front of pitches, his bat stays in the hitting zone long enough to minimize the effect of timing issues. He is often early, though, and that is something to clean up.
With that said, he’s still a young player and he has time to make these improvements. I’m a big fan of his swing and I’m excited to see what it does once he makes it to full season ball. Currently, I rank his power tool ahead of his hit tool, which is rare for a player of his size, but I think his hit tool has the potential to more than make up the difference as he matures.
Defensively, De La Rosa plays third base and second base but I think second base is likely his future. He’s also been much more successful there so far in his career, making 19 errors in 40 games at the hot corner and ‘only’ five errors in 35 games at second base.
After third base was his primary position in 2021, De La Rosa played more second base in 2022. I expect that to continue in 2023. I haven’t seen enough of his glove or his arm to make a solid evaluation so I will leave them as potential 50s for now and re-evaluate as I learn more.
He does look to be athletic enough to be a solid fielder in the future but how much of a threat he will be on the basepaths remains to be seen after he stole only three bases in seven attempts this year.
Summary: Samil De La Rosa has a good-looking swing and surprising pop for his size but still has a long development path ahead of him. If he can maintain his success in full season ball, he could be a riser to watch.
Future Value: 35
Role: AAAA guy/reserve
Brian Walton’s environmental impact report
Brian’s ranking – no. 50
After being a January 15th signee in 2021, the right-handed hitter got off to a nice start to his professional career. With the Dominican Summer League Cardinals, De La Rosa slashed .288/.396/.424/.880, earning a promotion to the US for 2022.
After a stint in Extended Spring Training to acclimate to play in the US, De La Rosa made the Florida Complex League Cardinals roster to open the season. The Dominican Republic native got off to a great start with an OPS of .814 in June, followed by an .803 mark in July. Even his .747 August was better than the vast majority of his teammates.
For the season, De La Rosa led the rookie-level Cards in hits (34), doubles (nine) and home runs (six). The latter tied the league lead and he was seventh in the FCL in slugging at .447 and eighth in OPS at .792.
De La Rosa topped the 2022 FCL Cards in other offensive categories as well, including plate appearances (165) and runs scored (25) and tied for the most RBI (21).
Despite a modest .241 batting average, De La Rosa’s mark was best among teammates. De La Rosa was second in on-base percentage at .345, with an unusual breakdown.
With a stance crowding the plate, De La Rosa was hit by an incredible 10 pitches, 2 ½ times that of any other FCL Cardinal and tied for second most in the circuit. That had a major inflationary impact on De La Rosa’s on-base mark as he also drew 13 walks.
De La Rosa’s 20% strikeout rate was the best among his free-swinging teammates but his walk rate of 7.9% was middle of the pack.
His relatively low .272 BABIP suggests his results could have been even better. As it is, his weighted runs created plus (wRC+) was tops on his club at 121, 21 points above league average.
Defensively, after playing more second than third base in 2021, his time played between the two positions flipped this season. However, De La Rosa’s fielding has been considerably better at second compared to the hot corner (.949 vs. .750). This will need to be sorted out later, but he seems to have enough bat to play either.
De La Rosa was the third-youngest player on the FCL Cards roster, after Adari Grant and Luis Piño. Born on September 34, 2003, De La Rosa played the entire 2022 season at 18 years of age.
Considering all of his success, it should not be surprising that De La Rosa is The Cardinal Nation’s 2022 Florida Complex Cardinals Player of the Year.
It seems that De La Rosa has shown enough in rookie ball to move up to Low-A Palm Beach to open 2023. With the elimination of two levels in between (Rookie Advanced and Short-Season Class-A) across minor league baseball, this step up from the FCL is huge in terms of level of competition.
With no physical distance between the two (FCL and Palm Beach), however, players can be tested at the higher level and returned for more seasoning if they show they are not ready. (In April and May, that return would be to extended spring training, as the FCL season does not open until June.)
If De La Rosa can continue to hit in A-ball at the age of 19, it would be a huge plus for his career and advancement. Specifically, continuing to produce at least 20% above league average, or even improving on that, is a good measure to monitor.
As noted above, he is seemingly aimed toward second base defensively, which is not a bad move. There are no top prospects at the position above him who might artificially block him from future promotions when he shows he is ready.
At this point, it does not seem unreasonable to wonder if De La Rosa can continue along his early career growth trajectory – or even accelerate it a bit – while remaining young for his leagues. If so, he could have some Double-A experience under his belt by the time a Rule 5 decision will be necessary following the 2025 season.
A late 2026 St. Louis debut at the age of 22 may be on the aggressive side, but with a promising player this young and inexperienced, it is fun to wonder “what if?” while watching his results in the season ahead.
MLB debut: 2026
Rule 5 Eligible: 2025
Our 2023 Top 50 series continues
To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects, grading scales and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the Top 50 countdown and 12 in-depth, follow-up articles breaking down the list.
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