Jeremy De La Rosa: Nationals 2022 Minor League Player Of The Year
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Jeremy De La Rosa already had plus speed and fielding ability. This year, the 20-year-old center fielder also made impressive strides in his approach at the plate.
The lefthanded hitter sparkled in his second try at Low-A Fredericksburg this season. He hit .315/.394/.505 with 10 home runs, 26 stolen bases, 36 walks and 78 strikeouts in 69 games before a July 12 promotion to High-A Wilmington.
“He went back to the drawing board in the offseason and managed the strike zone a lot better,” Nationals farm director De Jon Watson said. “He stayed in the middle of the diamond and showed the ability to drive the baseball to all parts of the ballpark.”
In High-A, De La Rosa stole 13 bases in 15 tries, but he was sapped of his power after injuring his hand. He hit .195 with one home run in 32 games before needing hamate surgery.
De La Rosa played five games in right field for Wilmington, offering a potential glimpse of the Nationals' future outfield alignment after Washington added center fielder Robert Hassell III in the Juan Soto blockbuster.
The Nationals signed De La Rosa for $300,000 in 2018, and they quickly challenged him by assigning him to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League for his pro debut in 2019. Most top international free agents spend their age-17 seasons in the Dominican Summer League.
The Nationals also had De La Rosa play at their alternate training site during the height of the pandemic in 2020. He showed power that summer against older competition.
This year, the 5-foot-11 De La Rosa was able to translate his strength into more consistent results.
“It was truly a mindset he had,” Watson said. “He improved his pitch recognition and had a solid offensive approach.”
De La Rosa also spoke during the season about making other mental adjustments. He worked on becoming less anxious during at-bats and at staying positive through the usual ups and downs of baseball.
— Catcher Israel Pineda made the jump all the way from High-A Wilmington to Washington this year. The 22-year-old hit a combined .258/.325/.458 with 16 home runs in 99 minor league games before his MLB debut. “When he's getting balls he should hammer, he's not missing them,” Nationals farm director De Jon Watson said. “But the biggest thing for him has been his work behind the plate.”
— After 3,234 career minor league at-bats, 30-year-old first baseman/outfielder Joey Meneses made the most of his first MLB callup. He hit .326/.349/.556 with eight home runs in his first 35 games with Washington. Meneses had belted 20 homers at Triple-A Rochester.