Baseball – SSN Hitter of the Year: Joey Rose, Toms River North
Baseball is said to be a game of failure, but during his three-year varsity career, Toms River North third baseman Joey Rose has known a different definition of failure than his peers.
Hitters are not supposed to reach base more than they make outs, but that has been Rose’s way of life from the moment he set foot on a varsity diamond as a sophomore in 2014. This season, though, Rose took his game to a different level and earned himself – among other things – the 2016 Shore Sports Network Player of the Year Award.
In each of his three varsity seasons, Rose ran an on-base percentage of better than .500 and it reached a peak for Mariners slugger this past season. In addition to hitting .437, he posted an on-base percentage of .615, which inflated his career on-base to .561.
Rose’s ability to reach base proved a skill in and of itself, but it also had to do with the fact that opposing pitchers tried to avoid his prodigious power. Prior to this season, Rose combined to hit seven home runs and record a slugging percentage of nearly .700 over his first two varsity campaigns, which contributed to opponents walking Rose 24 times and hitting him nine times. Only 16 Shore Conference players had more hits than Rose had combined walks and hit-by-pitches (33) and Rose himself reached base more on free passes than on hits (31).
When Rose did get a chance to swing the bat, he did so with authority. While his on-base percentage trailed Ranney’s Cory Natofsky and Ocean’s Brian Kochenash for the top mark in the Shore this season, his 1.014 slugging percentage dwarfed the next-highest mark – held by Middletown South senior Johnny Zega (.887). He hit a state-best 11 home runs – edging Zega by one – and also added six doubles and a triple. Despite so many teams passing on pitching to him, Rose still knocked in 33 runs during his senior year to go along with 38 runs scored. Rose’s display of power and patience came with just eight strikeouts all season long.
During the 11-homer campaign, Rose hit two home runs in three different games this past season. His best statistical performance of the season came in a 23-6 mauling of Lacey, in which the senior third baseman went 4-for-4 with two home runs – one a grand slam – a double and a career-high eight RBI.
That outburst against Lacey kicked off a four-game stretch in which Rose went 10-for-17 with five home runs, three doubles and 16 RBI. He went 3-for-4 with two doubles in a 13-12 loss to Brick Memorial – during which Brick Memorial intentionally walked him as the winning run with the tying run on second and one out in the bottom of the seventh.
Rose then posted his second two-homer game of the year by going deep twice and driving in four in a win at Central Regional and capped his four-game tear by hitting a walk-off, three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to beat Jackson Memorial. The Mariners trailed 10-9 when Rose came up against Monmouth University recruit Chris Hawryluk and launched the game-winning drive over the left-field fence.
Rose later put up his third two-homer game of the season in an 8-7 loss at Brick Memorial, another four-RBI effort. His other home runs this past season came in a win over Southern Regional – a game in which he reached base in all five plate appearances, including two walks and two hit-by pitches – an Ocean County Tournament win over Jackson Liberty, a regular-season rout of Red Bank Catholic and a season-closing loss to Columbia.
As striking as Rose’s home-run totals and on-base numbers are, the best part of his season was probably his performance against top-level pitching. Toms River North faced two high-Division I recruits in Monroe’s Robbie Peto and Barnegat’s Jason Groome – the latter of whom was drafted by the Boston Red Sox with the No. 12 overall pick of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Rose went 1-for-2 against Peto and went 2-for-3 with a two-run double off Groome in a game that Toms River North won 7-1 by knocking the left-hander out of the game in the fifth inning.
Rose entered the season as an Oklahoma State University recruit, but interest among Major League clubs increased significantly during the course of the season. On the second day of the MLB Draft, the Arizona Diamondbacks took Rose with their fifth-round selection paid him a $400,000 signing bonus to sign with the organization. He is currently playing for the Diamondbacks Rookie Ball team in the Arizona League.
Rose finished his Toms River North career as one of the program’s top hitters. He capped his career with a .417 average, .561 on-base percentage, .798 slugging percentage, 18 home runs, 23 doubles, three triples, 78 runs scored and 73 RBI.
Joey Rose Career Stats