In the summer of 2005, Adam Rosales was a 12th-round draft choice of the Cincinnati Reds, which may sound like a highly coveted player to you and me, but in the world of baseball’s draft, Rosales was just another guy.
While plenty of players not drafted in the first 10 rounds make the major leagues, the success stories are fewer than those guys who were drafted closer to the top.
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Rosales, who played shortstop for the Dragons in 2005 and ’06, is a success story.
Teams fill their minor league rosters with draft picks and free agents, most of the latter coming from Venezuela or the Dominican Republic
Look down the current roster of the Dayton Dragons. It’s loaded with players drafted inside the first eight rounds, plus a number of free agents.
There are also a few later-round prospects, including four pitchers (Austin Orewiler, round 14; Ryan Nutof, 16; John Ghyzel, 18 and Adrian Chacon, 23) and first baseman Montrell Marshall (12).
Why does it matter, especially since management contends once the draft is over, everyone has the same chance? When the Reds made the playoffs three of four years (2010-’13), they often fielded a lineup of all first- and second-round draft picks, including catcher Devon Mesoraco (1), first baseman Joey Votto (2), second baseman Brandon Phillips (2), third baseman Todd Frazier (1)/Scott Rolen (2), shortstop Zack Cozart (2) and outfielders Ryan Ludwick (2), Drew Stubbs (1) and Jay Bruce (1).
That group was successful, except it never won a playoff round. The Reds have not had a winning season since and only Votto and center fielder Billy Hamilton (2) remain as top-of-the-draft picks. Current Reds outfielders Adam Duvall (11) and Scott Schebler (26) and second baseman Scooter Gennett (16) were drafted by other teams.
That brings us back to Rosales, who has played in the major leagues during each of the past 10 seasons and is currently on hold by the Cleveland Indians at their Class AAA Columbus team.
It would be presumptuous to call Rosales the most enthusiastic guy who ever played, but not many rival his infectious smile and his Pete Rose-hustle instinct.
Rosales, who turns 35 on Sunday, has played for the Reds, Rangers, Athletics, Padres and Diamondbacks. He went to spring training this year with the Phillies, but was released a week before camp closed, signing a minor league deal with the Indians.
Although his lifetime .227 batting average would seem to be a drawback, his ability to play all the infield positions as well as the outfield along with his exuberance for the game have landed him jobs time and again.
“I’ve been blessed,” Rosales said the other day after working out at first base at Huntington Park in Columbus. “I’ve always been okay being the underdog. I’ve been told I don’t have this or that tool, but I don’t listen to it. If I’m not there (in the big leagues), I’m not doing something right, and I’ve got to figure it out.
“If you go back to the day I was drafted, if you told me then I’d be here today and have played in a perfect game, gone to the playoffs twice and the service time that I’ve accumulated, I would have thought you’d be silly that those were the accomplishments. It’s been better than I thought.”
Rosales played for the Dragons in 2005 and 2006. Since reaching the majors in 2008, he has played every infield position and in the outfield, settling in recent years at second base.
Growing up outside Chicago, he hoped to play at Wrigley Field, which he has done with several visiting teams. After he signed a pro contract out of Western Michigan, he wouldn’t let anyone tell him he couldn’t make it.
“If it was going to take 10 years, I was going to do it,” Rosales said.
He carries that positive attitude today, refusing to glance at a non-playing future.
“Over? No, I’ll say when it’s over.” Rosales said. “I take it day by day. I think when we get ahead of ourselves and put that finish line in front of us, you’re going to play horribly. I’ve done that before, too. I’ve said, ‘You know, I think I can play five more years.’ Why put a finish line in when you have today? Do something special to appreciate today.”