When the Los Angeles Dodgers needed another pitcher in the wake of staff injuries, they purchased the contract of 22-year old Rubby De La Rosa from Double-A Chattanooga. After a couple scintillating relief appearances while pitching in some high-leverage late inning situations, the Dodger brain trust thrust the Dodgers' 2010 Minor League Pitcher of the Year into the starting pitching rotation on June 7 against the Philadelphia Phillies, a game in which De La Rosa would notch his first career major-league victory.
|2012 Dodgers Player Profiles|
|This continues our series of 2012 player profiles, where we will analyze one player per day, between now and the end of spring training. This is also the spot for our community projections, so be sure to give us your predictions for each player for this season in the comments section.
Unfortunately De La Rosa's debut season came to a crashing close after ten starts when he was diagnosed with a torn ulner collateral ligament and underwent "Tommy John" surgery on August 9.
Only three years ago the young Dominican right-hander was barely a blip on the radars of prospect mavens, but True Blue LA's Brandon Lennox did rank De La Rosa as his 51st best prospect in the Dodgers' system (five spots behind current closer Javy Guerra) based mainly on outstanding stats in the 2008 Dominican Summer League.
The following year De La Rosa recorded only 16 1/3 innings pitched in rookie ball, with other non-game action*, but his season was cut short when he was sent home due to unspecified disciplinary reasons. Nevertheless, Lennox moved De La Rosa up to #35 on his pre-2010 Dodgers prospect list, based on strong scouting reports, including this report from ESPN's Keith Law from 2009 Spring Training, "De la Rosa sat at 91-95 mph with a solid changeup from 84-86 that he turns over hard. His breaking ball was a slow curve in the mid-70s, although the harder he threw it the sharper the break became. He clearly has the arm speed to throw a good breaking ball and the laxity in his wrist to throw a curve, so it might just be a matter of development with better coaches as he moves up."
By 2011, De La Rosa was well-known to every prospect watcher thanks to an outstanding 2010 campaign split between single A Great Lakes and Chattanooga and reports of him touching 100 mph with his fastball, and he ranked among the top-8 Dodger prospects in every major publication, with the TBLA community placing him fourth and Lennox listing him fifth in his review. In his interview with Lennox, Dodgers Assistant GM of Player Development DeJon Watson credited De La Rosa's promotion to more than results, "Rubby’s skill set is what caused the Dodgers to promote him to AA. In particular, his poise, his demeanor, his fastball command, and his ability to make adjustments inning to inning and batter to batter." De La Rosa continued to scintillate with the Dodgers AA franchise in 2011, leading to his early recall last year.
According to the Dodgers, De La Rosa did not play organized baseball as a child in the Dominican Republic, but instead played a Domincan version of cricket called La Plaquita.
De La Rosa was first added to the 40-man roster last season and never optioned. The Dodgers still hold three options on him. He did exhaust his rookie eligibility. He has accrued 128 days of major-league service time.
Previous Dodgers Player Profiles:
2011: Rubby De La Rosa, A Real Gem
|2012 Projections - Age 22 Season|
|(Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)|
All reports this spring are that De La Rosa rehabilition is entirely on schedule, which would indicate a return to game action sometime mid-summer. If one allows for thirty days of rehab starts in the minors, his readiness for major-league duty might coincide with the September roster expansion. I predict that De La Rosa sees some last month action coming out of the bullpen for the Dodgers, in one or two inning stints with a few days rest in between: 10 IP, 3.60 ERA, 1.4 WHIP.
What is your guess for De La Rosa in 2012? Be sure to give us ERA, Innings Pitched, and WHIP in the comments, plus anything else you wish to guess.
Thanks to baseball-reference.com and fangraphs.com for the statistics.
*DeJon Watson told Lennox, "he threw way more than the listed 16 innings in 2009…the 16 innings are just what you have listed in your book." I take this to mean that it is common for pitchers in the rookie leagues to get some work outside of official games, such as in simulated games.