Sunday, July 20, 2008

De La Rosa Torching Competition

Wilkins De La Rosa is a name you should file away in the back of your mind so here's a little scouting report.

The 23 year-old began his professional career as a toolsy outfielder signed by the Yankees way back in 2001. But, when it became evident his hitting prowess did not match his mammoth arm in the outfield, the organization decided to put him on the mound instead.

The results have been nothing short of dazzling thus far. I first started following De La Rosa last season when he tossed 24 innings of relief for the GCL Yankees, striking out 32 batters, walking 11, allowing 20 hits and posting a 2.63 ERA. At that early stage of his pitching career, De La Rosa was reportedly already pumping fastballs 92-95mph and touching the high 90s when he needed it.

Considering the dearth of lefthanded pitching in the Yankees farm system at that time [hello Phil Coke, Anthony Bleich], De La Rosa became an intriguing must-monitor prospect for me. His rise has been fun to watch.

Moving up a level to Low-A Charleston this year, De La Rosa continued torching through hitters with ease and striking out opposing hitters at an absurd rate. Though his slider is a bit inconsistent in terms of command it projects to be a solid weapon in the future, and De La Rosa does have a solid grasp of his changeup right now to compliment a surprisingly repeatable delivery.

The result has been a stellar 2008 campaign, headed by his 94 strikeouts over 75.2 innings, .189 opponent batting average and sparkling 2.26 ERA. After spending the bulk of his year as a shutdown multi-inning reliever for the Riverdogs, De La Rosa was recently converted to the rotation. As has become a trend for De La Rosa, he again excelled in the new role. [And, believe it or not, his numbers have actually improved since becoming a starter]

Of his six starts this year, De La Rosa has only been truly stretched out as a starter for his last four outings. Over those last four starts the 6-foot-3 lean lefty tossed 23.1 innings, struck out 26 batters, walked just 5 and allowed only 4 earned runs. For a converted outfielder to not only pick up the art of pitching this quickly but simultaneously dominate his competition is rare, to say the very least.

Below are De La Rosa's last four starts:
July 2nd..... 5.1 innings, 2 hits, 1 ER, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts
July 7th...... 6 innings, 2 hits, 0 ER, 0 walks, 9 strikeouts
July 13th.... 6 innings, 3 hits, 1 ER, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts
July 18th.... 6 innings, 7 hits, 2 ER, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts
And finally, De La Rosa's career stats as a minor league pitcher:
2.32 ERA, 93.2 IP, 63 hits, 119 strikeouts, 44 walks, 1 HR
11.49 K/9 - 1.15 WHIP - 6.08 H/9 - 0.10 HR/9 - 4.25 BB/9
It's safe to say that Wilkins has catapulted himself from an underwhelming outfielder limited to minor league limbo into a bona fide major league pitching prospect.


Anonymous said...

You should check out Jon Ortiz as well. He flat out dominates, but is old for the league.

Bronx Liaison said...

I'm not a big believer in Ortiz. I don't really consider him a prospect at this point. Lacks size, true overpowering stuff, is old for his low level and has very little projection in my mind.

This is not to discount his numbers, but even though he is the same age as De La Rosa, you cannot discount how young the lefty still is in terms of pitching years. Thanks though as usual for the solid contribution, Tripp. Once he moves up to Tampa and/or Trenton we'll see if he's legit - as is the case with Wilkins I suppose.

Anthony Claggett is more of an under-the-radar type prospect in my mind. Particularly because of the level he is succeeding at and he's less than a year older than Ortiz. A 0.96 ERA, 9.00 K/9 and 29 hits over 39 IP is pretty ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heads up on De La Rosa. He seems like a pretty filthy prospect.