Turks’ Slugger Michael Rosario Paves His Own Path

Friday, July 22, 2022

Shelton Moss

HARRISONBURG, Va. — Michael Rosario plays with a quiet confidence. He has never been the most highly-touted prospect or the most sought-after player, nor was he always the best player on his own team.

But anyone familiar with Rosario’s work ethic would tell you that his success isn’t surprising.

“He’s one of the best outfielders in the league, and he’s proven it this year,” said Harrisonburg Turks head coach Bob Wease. “He’s an asset for the Valley League. Everything about him is right.”

Rosario has been a revelation for the Turks in 2022. The Newberry, Fla. native is batting .347 with 13 RBI, ranking second in the Valley Baseball League with a .579 slugging percentage. Despite joining the team two weeks into the season, he’s tallied 33 hits and stolen a team-high 14 bases.

In his second season in Harrisonburg, Rosario doesn’t pay much mind to his statistical accolades.

“I try not to focus on the stats. I might look at it at the end, but I’m just playing the game right now.”

Rosario comes from a family of high baseball pedigree. His cousin, Amed, currently plays for the MLB’s Cleveland Guardians, having accrued over 600 games of Major League service. The two first met when Michael was 10 years old on a visit to Amed’s native country of the Dominican Republic.

“From the first day I met him, we built a great connection,” Rosario said of his cousin. “He’s chasing his dreams and I’m chasing my dreams at the same time, and seeing him go out there every day and play his game and enjoy each moment he’s out there, has taught me to go out there and play the same way. I always looked up to him for that.”

Rosario added that Amed is the first person he texts if he is in a slump or just needs some advice.

“We have a great relationship. He’s always wishing me the best of luck, so it’s good to have that connection.”

Like his cousin, Rosario has had to work tirelessly for everything he’s earned. A prototypical late bloomer, he was undeveloped in high school, not making the varsity team at Buchholz High until his junior year. He had just two collegiate offers: one from Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, and another from St. Johns River State College.

Rosario ultimately chose St. Johns River, a public college in Palatka, Fla. that has produced several current and former Major League players including Howie Kendrick, Nate Lowe, and Myles Straw.

“From the pitching standpoint, head coach Ross Jones helped develop my mechanics,” Rosario said. “From the offensive side, coaches Cory Elasik and Joe Pound really helped me develop as a hitter and taught me things that I didn’t think I would learn unless I had somebody else. I was able to build a good connection with them and work with it.”

After two seasons at St. Johns River, Rosario transferred to the University of Miami. As a sophomore, he appeared in just two games while recovering from an offseason surgery. But he came back healthy this past spring, playing 37 games while making 22 starts as a reserve outfielder.

He entered the transfer portal following the season. On Wednesday, Rosario announced his commitment to Florida International University, where he will play out his last year of eligibility.

Rosario was connected to the Turks though his pitching coach J.D. Arteaga, who has been on the Miami staff for two decades. Arteaga was a standout pitcher for the Staunton Braves in the mid-1990s, and has long been friends with Wease.

Last summer, Rosario was one of the Turks’ most productive bats, hitting .315 with four home runs and 17 RBI over 29 games. But this year, the numbers are even more eye-popping. He has a .427 on-base percentage, with hits in eight of his last 11 games. He’s also tallied 10 multi-hit performances.

“This year, I have a little chip on my shoulder,” Rosario admitted. “And now I’m just applying that into the game and not letting back. I have no pressure on myself. I believe in myself more than anything, and that’s led me to where I’m at.”

The two biggest influences in Rosario’s life have been his father, Julio, and his uncle, German Abad Rosario. Michael gives them credit for helping him maintain a positive attitude as a player.

“They’ve always told me to go be myself and play my game, and that I’m good enough to play anywhere and against anybody,” Rosario noted. “If I have a bad game, they’re always positive, they always have good things to say about me. And I think that’s allowed me to go out and play comfortably my whole career.”

Following his exit meeting with the Hurricanes’ coaching staff, Rosario knew he needed to play summer league ball somewhere. He also knew that Wease had promised him a roster spot if ever needed one, so he called his former manager in mid-June and asked if he could come back and play.

“[Bob] was super excited to have me back,” Rosario said. “I love playing for Bob. He’s a great guy, he’s full of energy, he brings it with all the players, and we get along very well.”

It did not take long for Rosario to get his legs under him. The wily veteran hit a home run in his second game of the season against Front Royal on Jun. 19, and blasted another long-ball in a 3-for-5 performance against Covington two days later.

Rosario continues to improve with every at-bat, an observation not lost on Turks’ assistant coach Jowell Bernacet.

“His work ethic is through the roof,” said Bernacet of his hard-hitting outfielder. “He understands who he is and what adjustments he has to make when he’s at the plate. He never lets the situation get too big for him and constantly has a smile on his face.”

Both Bernacet and Wease believe that Rosario has pro potential written all over him. As for Rosario, he’s taking everything day-by-day.

“Whenever my time comes, it will come. I’m just going to keep working on myself until it does.”