High School | Rankings | 11/12/2019

Rose on the rise in '23 rankings

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Zion Rose (Perfect Game)

High School Class of 2023 Player Rankings | Rankings Risers: Class of 2023

Prospect Meadows Baseball & Softball Complex opened its gates just north of Marion, Iowa, this summer and immediately began welcoming many of the top teams from what became, generally speaking, a six-state area.

Hundreds of top prospects from the high school classes of 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 converged on the complex, eager to make themselves feel at home on the Meadows’ baseball fields, which sprang to life in the middle of Eastern Iowa farm fields. And, as it turned out, no one made themselves any more comfortable out there on the farm than one pretty special city kid from Chicago.

Zion Rose is a 6-foot-1, 175-pound 2023 catcher/utility player who is about three months into his freshman year at Brother Rice High School on Chicago’s South Side.

After an impressive summer spent playing with three Chicago-based teams – and with the MLB Breakthrough Series’ freshman squad in October – he has rocketed up the Perfect Game class of 2023 national prospect rankings, settling in at No. 7 in the latest update (No. 1 catcher); he was ranked as a top-550 prospect in late June.

Only 14½ years old, Rose is well-spoken and seems to be as equally well-grounded. He’s also a competitor, so he looks at the rankings in an effort to gain a better understanding of how the PG scouting department views his skills and potential when compared to the other top competitors from his class.

“I like to see who’s up there with me because I want to be No. 1, of course,” the personable Rose told PG during a telephone conversation late last week. “I like to see who’s ahead of me, and it reminds me how much I’ve got to work to get to that No. 1 spot. But really, I don’t want the rankings to go to my head, either.”

Rose’s climb up the rankings first gained traction in late April when he was included on the Top Prospect List after performing at the PG 14u Heartland Showcase, held at Perfect Game Field-Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

He ran a 6.75-second 60-yard dash at the event and recorded a top Pop time of 1.98-seconds while also working out in the infield. The strength and skill he exhibited with a bat in his hands was also an attention-grabber.

That performance at the 14u Heartland event was impressive enough to earn Rose an invitation to the inaugural Perfect Game 13u Select Baseball Festival played in Norman, Okla., in late August.

There was much more to come after the showcase, however. He was at Prospect Meadows with the Lou Collier/DB A’s for the PG WWBA 14u Midwest Spring Invitational in May and was named the Most Valuable Player after helping the A’s to a runner-up finish.

Rose returned to the Meadows in mid-September playing with the Prairie Gravel at the PG WWBA Midwest Underclass Championship and earned all-tournament team recognition. A trip back to Eastern Iowa for the PG WWBA Midwest Freshman Championship followed two weeks later, and he was again named the MVP, this time while playing for the champion Chicago Scouts Association.

“This might have been my best summer of my baseball career,” Rose said. “Just going to those tournaments, having fun, playing with all the top people in the nation. … We’re going to grow up playing with each other, and it’s just fun seeing each other at all these tournaments.

“With the MVPs, everybody wants to get it, but of course you’ve got to work for it and you’ve got to apply everything that you’ve been working on,” he continued. “You’ve just got to always stay calm and just play your game.”

Rose capped his fall season by playing with the MLB Breakthrough Series 2023 team at the PG WWBA Freshman World Championship in West Palm Beach, Fla., in mid-October and again performed at an all-tournament team level. The entire MLB Breakthrough Series experience left a lasting impression on the teenager.

“Being around all the ex-MLB players and the influence they have on me and all the other players, just teaching us everything they know – how to be a better player, be a better person,” Rose said. “It’s a nice experience being with them, and they know how it is being a black athlete in the baseball world. It’s nice being around people who know how it is and who made it being a black baseball player.”

By the time Rose played at the WWBA Freshman World, he was already getting acclimated to his new life as a high school student; he told PG last week that he likes everything Brother Rice has to offer so far. He’s going to try to make the school’s freshman basketball team this month, but he is especially looking forward to his first high school baseball season in the spring.

“The school, it’s just a nice environment there with everybody; everybody wants to be something in their life,” he said. “It helps me being around people who want the same things that I want.”

Rose carries a 4.0 grade-point average and has already committed to Louisville and head coach Dan McDonnell. He said he decided to commit this early in the process because the people within the Louisville program laid-out in front of him a definitive plan outlining the ways he can excel both athletically and academically.

He hopes to major in engineering once he gets on campus in the fall of 2023. “Baseball, education and everything else that comes into it, it just all evens out,” Rose said.

Having a conversation with a such a bright and talented young prospect such as Zion Rose is refreshing simply because of the pure joy he exudes when talking about the game. Baseball is supposed to be fun, after all, and Rose is having a blast.

There’s also the social side of the game. By traveling to tournaments outside of his home state of Illinois, Rose has been able to form friendships with other top prospects from all across the country, kids who share his same goals and aspirations.

He counts Cam Collier, another Louisville commit who is the No. 4-ranked national prospect from the class of 2023, among his best friends; Collier recently moved to Georgia from the Chicago area. “I love playing baseball with him,” Rose said of the talented third baseman.

The summer and fall of 2019 are now in Rose’s rearview mirror but the lessons he learned from competing at such a high level during those seasons will always stay with him. He has already climbed up on a couple of PG’s biggest age-group stages and he’ll continue to take on even bigger challenges as he moves up through both the ranks and the rankings.

Rose admitted to feeling some nervousness before he played in his first big tournament of the summer at Prospect Meadows, which is to be expected. But he was also quick to point out that he wasn’t nervous because of the fear of failure, but rather because he was so filled with excitement. He was then able to channel that excitement into MVP and all-tournament performances.

“Once you start playing and you get into a groove and you know everybody and you know your environment a little bit, then you can really show yourself; show you know how to play,” Rose said. “This summer was the best summer I had in my whole life. I feel like with Perfect Game and everything that I’ve been doing with baseball, committing (to Louisville) and just staying on top of what I’ve got to do, it’s really helping me out.”

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