Zion Rose excelled in his junior season at Brother Rice (Ill.) High School and then throughout the summer showcase circuit against premium pitching in 2022.
Rose solidified himself as one of the top players in the Midwest and a highly-regarded prospect in the 2023 class. In September, Rose transferred to IMG Academy in Florida for his senior year.
IMG Academy needed a catcher and unexpectedly reached out to Rose. It was an easy choice to transfer to IMG Academy, he said. IMG Academy is a premier preparatory boarding school and sports training center in Bradenton, Florida. The school consistently produces top athletes for the next level.
“It has been amazing,” Rose said. “I feel like I have really grown and am getting used to a pro schedule already. We are training every day. I like it a lot. I am doing stuff I wouldn’t be doing at home.”
Attending IMG Academy will only benefit Rose and his development on the diamond. He believes he has already refined his swing and throwing mechanics in his first three months in the program.
Scouts are eager to see Rose play at IMG Academy this spring. He is a potential early-round pick in July’s MLB draft, with the potential to develop into a first-round pick this spring.
“I don’t like to think too far into the future,” said Rose on the draft attention. “I like to take it day by day. It would be great to have that eventually, but I am not rushing anything. I know baseball is always going to be here.”
Rose is a 6-foot-1, 205-pound right-handed hitting catcher with a noteworthy toolset. Offensively, Rose uses simple mechanics and quick hands to create easy bat speed and consistently square up the baseball. He hits the ball hard and drives it to all parts of the field. He possesses intriguing raw power potential.
“My swing has developed a lot from the beginning of this year,” Rose said. “When I came here, I wanted to make my swing more smooth and natural with just easy pop. We are in action right now, making that happen. We will see how it looks this spring.”
Rose figures to stay behind the plate long-term. The prep backstop has above-average arm strength and a quick release, making it difficult for runners to steal on him. He also moves well behind the plate, featuring above-average athleticism.
Prep pitchers who threw to Rose during showcase games rave about Rose’s mentality and ability to call a game.
“My leadership is my top trait,” Rose said. “It is a big attribute to bring to a team. Being a catcher, I can really show off my leadership.”
Besides his status as a draft prospect, Rose is a University of Louisville commit. He verbally committed to Louisville as a sophomore in September 2019.
Louisville recruits the Midwest extremely well. It also consistently wins at a high level and produces players for the professional ranks. The program has a knack for developing high-level catchers. Will Smith was a first-round pick in the 2016 draft, Henry Davis went first overall in 2021, and Dalton Rushing was a second-rounder in 2022.
“I always wanted to go there,” Rose said. “Louisville is a big powerhouse school. They do a great job with their catchers. They have great coaches, and a lot of the kids they recruit are from the Midwest. I felt like it was a really good fit for me.”
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Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for eight years. He has interviewed 433 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com, The Arizona Republic and The Dallas Morning News, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.