It needs work. It needs a lot of work.
It might be the only part of Dylan Rosenberg’s performance on the baseball diamond that isn’t up to par. The Wheatley senior shortstop is a wizard in the middle of the infield, snagging grounders and line drives and quarterbacking his unit as he as for the past four years on the Wildcats varsity.
At the plate, Rosenberg sprays hits to all fields, and drives the ball into the gap for extra-bases, tearing up opposing pitching like so much confetti at a championship parade.
But when Rosenberg really gets ahold of a ball this season and drives it over the fence, he goes into his home run trot. And well, it’s not really anything that would make Reggie Jackson or Sammy Sosa proud.
“I’m not real good at telling whether it’s going out or not,” he said with smile before a recent practice. “I start running hard and thinking it may go out, but most of the time I get to second base and look up and see that it’s over the fence. And then I slow down a little.
“But yeah,” he added sheepishly, “I need to work on that home run trot.”
Until this season, Rosenberg never had to worry much about ambling around the bases while everyone else watched and hollered from the Wheatley dugout. He hit just one dinger in his career until 2023.
But this spring balls have been flying off Rosenberg’s bat, and he’s smacked five home runs.
That goes along with his usual dominance at the plate, which this season led to a .477 batting average, 24 RBI, 25 runs scored and only two strikeouts. Rosenberg and senior co-captain Brian McCleary (.358 average, 16 RBIs) have powered the Wheatley offense, a duo that’s been together since they were 8 years old playing on the Long Island Redmen.
“He doesn’t do anything badly at all, he’s just an amazing player,” McCleary said of his best buddy. “All these years together, we’ve brought out the best in each other, and he just makes so many incredible plays for us.”
Wheatley (13-6) is playing a best-of-three playoff series against East Rockaway starting May 15, and if they’re to win a third straight Nassau County title, you can be sure it’ll be Rosenberg who leads the way.
“Dylan is the full package on the baseball field,” first-year coach Dave Burke said. “He knows the game, rarely makes mistakes or is out of position, and when he is, he’s the first guy to know it and take responsibility.”
Rosenberg attributes his power surge to a few factors: Increased offseason weight training that boosted his weight from 145 to 165, and paying much closer attention to nutrition. He’s been guided by Coach Burke’s son Tyler, a college player at the College of William & Mary, who Rosenberg said has helped him a lot.
“He’s helped me as far as having a consistent schedule and plan, and eating lots of protein and carbs,” Rosenberg said. “It was funny because I wasn’t sure how much (the weight) was going to help, and then in February we had a preseason workout, and out of like, seven pitches I hit four or five home runs.
“I was like ‘Wow!,” Rosenberg said.
Throughout his baseball journey with McCleary, Rosenberg has also been guided by older brother Kyle, who was Wheatley’s ace pitcher the last few years and now plays club baseball at Vanderbilt.
Since Dylan was a kid, he said, he was tagging along and wanting to be just like Kyle.
And together with McCleary, Rosenberg started travel ball at a young age and has continued to excel. In 2022 as a junior he batted .388 with 35 runs scored and 14 stolen bases.
“He has a great eye for strike zone, and just doesn’t chase bad pitches,” Burke said. “He and Brian, they’re like partners in crime, they’re really good together. Brian is the rah-rah yeller, and Dylan is more the quiet guy to settle everyone down.”
After his junior season Rosenberg attended college showcases and caught the eye of coaches, finally settling on Division III Oswego State to continue his career next year.
“They’ve got a highly respected coach (Scott Landers) who runs a great program, and I loved the campus up there,” Rosenberg said.
Both Rosenberg and McCleary agreed it would be strange to no longer be teammates after the next few weeks (McCleary’s headed to Adelphi University to play in college) but also know they’ve got a chance to leave their mark on the school they’ve known so well.
“I’m trying not to think about it, because I know it’ll be hard when it’s over,” Rosenberg said. “This school is all I’ve known for the last four years, and I’ve loved it. I hope we get one more championship.”
And maybe by the end of the season, Rosenberg will have finally learned a good home run trot.