Viosergy Rosa Interview

This is part 1 of a 2 part interview with Miami Marlins 1B prospect, Viosergy Rosa.

Ian Millman: We are here with New York Nine alum and Miami Marlins prospect, Viosergy Rosa, the day before he shows up to spring training. Being just hours away from your first big league spring training, what does that feel like?

Viosergy Rosa: I’m not really thinking of anything, just going out there and doing my thing…[pause] That’s all I got for you coach. [both laugh] No, no, I’m just messing with you. I’m excited, it’s something I’ve been waiting for my whole life and it’s great to get an opportunity like this. It is also a bit surreal, but I feel I’ve worked very hard for this and it’s a huge step to where I want to go for my career.

Ian: Could you tell us about your high school and college experience and how that motivated and shaped the ballplayer you’ve become?

Vio: I ended up going to George Washington High School, the same High School Manny Ramirez went to, and to play for the legendary Coach Mandl and his program. over there in Washington Heights. During junior year, I went to the Dominican Republic and I was training twice a day. In the morning from 6-12 and then around 4 or 5 o’clock we went back to practice. I got a lot better doing those months and I had a couple Dominican pro teams interested in me when I finished High School. When I went back to George Washington, I was going to graduate early to see if I could go back to the Dominican and sign a pro contract. Mike Antonio’s father talked to me and wanted me to try out for the baseball team, I had been cut three times which you already know coach, because there was nothing to lose. I was invited to play for a team called College Select. I wound up doing very well on the College Select team and I made the High School team my Senior year. I say we had a pretty good year, we won the championship. That’s how I got hooked up with the New York Nine, you saw me play and thought I was pretty good.

Then the collegiate process was extremely stressful for me and my family. I only played one year in High School and for a school to pick me up after only one year was pretty hard. Not only that but I didn’t have any offers and it wasn’t until August that George Wallace Community College called. I wanted to go to a warmer climate school. It helped that Mackey Sasser was a big league guy, and I wound up signing to go to George Wallace. It was definitely a culture shock and the first time I met Mackey, conversation went something like this: ‘What positions do you play?’ ‘outfield and first base’ ‘can you hit?’ ‘you’re going to have be the judge of that.’ ‘You can’t hit because you don’t have any confidence.’

So he put me on the B team, which was the practice squad. I was nowhere near the starter because he didn’t think I was good enough. I just quietly continued working on my game. We were starting our first game, an exhibition against a team and I wasn’t supposed to play, I wasn’t on the lineup card. The first baseman had to go do something in class for his eligibility and a minute before the game starts he had to leave and I was the only guy at that position left so he put me in the lineup. He didn’t even bother to switch the names, so I was hitting 4th. First AB I hit a home run. 2nd AB I hit another home run. 3rd AB I hit another home run. 4th AB I hit a double off the wall and after that he never took me out of the 4th spot and off the A team.

Unfortunately at George Wallace, I wouldn’t say I had lost all the love for the game, but i didn’t have the same passion for the game. I was only going to play baseball at the collegiate level so it could pave my way for a scholarship. Luckily I got good advice from Youman Wilder when he told me I should go back and play for the New York Nine that summer since I had a year of eligibility left. While I was playing there, even though I was one of the older guys, I wasn’t one of the better guys. My bat was inconsistent. Then Jean Carlos Rodriguez, who was drafted in the 10th by the Phillies, was working with me on how to hit a changeup and getting through the baseball instead of cutting off. That helped me out a lot, especially with off-speed pitches, and then I took off from there and had a really good year.

Ian: The summer season was winding down and I recall you felt there were a lot of positive experiences at George Wallace but that wasn’t where you wanted to be for your 2nd year. There were some decisions that you and your family had to make in a short period of time. Where did you wind up going and how do you feel about that decision, baseball wise?

Vio: Wallace wasn’t the best all around experience for me personally, it helped do a lot of things but I knew it wasn’t what was best for me. Fernando Frias was one of my teammates with the New York Nine and George Washington and he wanted me to go to school in Iowa where the coach could get almost a full scholarship. So I verbally committed to go and I continued to play with the Nine. I consider myself a quiet guy, until I get to know you, but I would show up late to games and was always quiet. The coaches didn’t like that but it wasn’t until when we were driving back from Albany in the white Expedition when you and I were able to have a long one on one conversation that helped me out a lot. You started asking me what I wanted to do for my future and I said I was going to Iowa. Now Coach was the one who helped out getting me to George Wallace and obviously felt bad about how it wasn’t ideal for me because I know how you take care of each and every one of us, and felt you could help make my situation better by me going to Odessa College. But I had already verbally committed, and my father raised me to be a man of my word and you even told me that you never suggest a man backs out of his promise to someone. However on that car ride, you laid out the pros and cons and I knew I had to go to Odessa. One of the things you said was, ‘if you go hit .500 in Iowa, you had a great year and you can go to another school. If you go to Texas in that conference and hit .350 with what else you do, you’ll get drafted. I understand you gave him your word, but his life still goes on whether you go there or not, and so does yours and your family’s, and mine, but you still have to live with you.’ I needed to go with what was best for me but it wasn’t the easiest thing for me to do. But in the end I decided to go to Odessa College. I’m glad I did and I had a great experience at Odessa College. I actually never thanked you, coach, for sending me there, I guess now would be a good time to do it and for the great advice. [Both Laugh]

Part 2