The next Bull

Jairo Rosario hopes to follow brother Wilin's path to MLB

Jairo Rosario goes through a throwing and catching drill Saturday during a Grand Junction Rockies practice at Suplizio Field. Rosario is the younger brother of current Colorado Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario. Jairo, also a catcher, hopes he can move up the organizational ladder and one day become a major league catcher like Wilin.

Jairo Rosario calls himself Little Bull, but he hopes to follow in the footsteps of his brother, Wilin Rosario, known as Baby Bull.

Jairo Rosario is starting off on the same path. He is one of the new Grand Junction Rockies players this year. Both brothers are catchers.

“Everybody’s been good, everybody’s excited my brother is a big-leaguer and that he’s going to be a superstar sometime,” Rosario said through translator Josh Rosenthal, the Rockies’ cultural education coordinator. “(Wilin’s) in kind of a slump right now, but they know he’ll come out of it and end up with a great season.

“He’s been a great brother and a great friend. He’s been wonderful with the family. He takes care of the family. He hasn’t gotten a big head. He stayed the same and is working just as hard as he always has.”

Wilin, 24, is four years older than Jairo.

The middle two of four boys in the Rosario family grew up playing baseball in Bonao, Dominican Republic, with their uncles.

“When I was little and got better, I got to play with them,” Jairo said, adding their uncles helped him and Wilin.

Since Wilin Rosario has made it to the Major Leagues with the Colorado Rockies, he’s returned the favor.

“He helps out his mom a lot,” Jairo said. “He gives kids backpacks. We work hard for ourselves, but also for our community.”

Grand Junction Rockies manager Anthony Sanders saw both Rosario boys grow in their pro careers.

“I had an opportunity to work with his brother when he first signed,” Sanders said. “I saw him as a baby coming into the organization. He’s a great kid.

“It wasn’t until last year, when I went down to the Dominican for the first time and saw his brother (Jairo) that’s here now. They come from a good family, you can tell. He’s got a lot of expectations to try to fill, but he doesn’t seem like he’s that type of kid to put pressure on himself to perform like his brother. He’s a great kid and is working hard.”

The Colorado Rockies signed Jairo in February 2011. He played in the Dominican Summer League that year, hitting .236 with five doubles, four stolen bases and 16 RBI in 127 at-bats in 37 games.

He hit .241 with five doubles, one triple, one home run, six stolen bases and 11 RBI in 158 at-bats (47 games) last year.

Jairo now plays the same position as Wilin, but Jairo said he was an infielder until an ankle injury limited his mobility.

“It’s great we’re in the same organization, same team, same position,” Rosario said. “We can work out together and train together, and he translates for me.”

Wilin didn’t know English when he played in the United States for the first time back when he was on the Rockies’ Advanced Rookie team in Casper, Wyo., in 2007. Jairo has the benefit of the Rockies’ new cultural education program.

“Wilin was really coming out of his shell trying to speak English, but you could tell he was going to pick it up because he was not shy,” Sanders said. “His brother to me right now is a bit more shy than Wilin when he came, but I think our Latin program now is above and beyond what it used to be. I don’t see any delays with any of these guys picking it up.”

Fellow Grand Junction Rockies catcher Jose Briceno has helped Jairo Rosario and the nine other Latino players with their transition to Grand Junction.

“They are really excited to come to a new place, new people, new culture,” Briceno said. “I think the first thing is to speak English. It’s really difficult. Whatever you want, you need to speak English.”

Briceno didn’t know English when he came to Grand Junction last year. Briceno played two years for the Dominican Summer League Rockies. He started this season in Class A Asheville (N.C.), before returning to Grand Junction last week.

“Jose has been a leader from Day 1,” Sanders said. “He’s a guy that’s taken that role.

“(Friday), I called on him to translate for me. I can speak a little bit (of Spanish), but not nearly enough for what the kids need. He does a very good job.”

Jairo is learning to adjust to the high altitude as well.

“The breeze and the thin air helps a lot with batting,” he said with a smile. “I’m still getting used to running and training in the thin air.

“I’m grateful to be here. I’m happy to be a Rockie and looking forward to a fantastic season.”


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