Reno, Nevada —— Entering play on Thursday, Arizona Diamondbacks veteran starter-turned-minor league reliever Rubby De La Rosa is 0-1 with a 1.96 ERA over 17 minor league games in 2017 split between the Triple-A Reno Aces, and the High-A Visalia Rawhide. In 18.1 innings pitched, De La Rosa has struck out 25 hitters while walking just four, and he’s allowed only 12 hits (though three of those are home runs).
I observed the Arizona Diamondbacks’ former big league starting pitcher in a relief appearance on June 20, 2017; below is Baseball Census‘ full Rubby De La Rosa scouting report, including video.
Rubby De La Rosa Scouting Report — Video
Our video of Arizona Diamondbacks minor league pitcher Rubby De La Rosa comes from his June 20 relief outing — one inning, no hits, no runs, two strikeouts — against the visiting Las Vegas 51s:
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Rubby De La Rosa Scouting Report — Notes
He has always thrown fairly hard, but Rubby De La Rosa is experiencing a predictable uptick in velocity now that he’s in the ‘pen full time. Able to blow it out in short stints, he sits 95-99 mph with his four-seam fastball; as you’d have seen by watching the video above, it’s very, very easy 99 mph—likely the easiest I’ve seen all year. His command of the pitch at that velocity is so-so, though, and he’s liable to overthrow it at times in a bid to try to do too much. He doesn’t need to do that; even when the fastball catches too much of the plate, it’s still tough to square up thanks to plus-plus velocity and a little bit of late arm-side run. When it’s down in the strike zone, that arm-side run (with some added sink) can increase even a bit more.
De La Rosa has pared down his repertoire, primarily only using a very tight 83-87 mph slider as his off-speed look out of the bullpen. That’s more than enough against Triple-A hitters, and with the fastball velocity he’s showing now, the slider could be enough in the big leagues, too, assuming above-average control and command. That said, the slider can flatten and turn into a cutter, and it’s not always a true wipeout pitch with depth and late break. That’s worked for Rubby De La Rosa thus far in the Pacific Coast League, but hitters in the National League will be decidedly more able to square up a short-breaking slider left too far out over the plate.
Rubby De La Rosa Scouting Report — Projection
Arizona Diamondbacks fans know Rubby De La Rosa well—he started 42 games for them between 2015 and 2016—and so there’s likely not much excitement about a now 28-year-old one-time prospect trying to salvage whatever is left of a big league career. But there’s a lot of good here; fastball velocity is shooting up all across professional baseball and yet there are still precious few guys who routinely work at 99 mph, especially with the ease De La Rosa has doing it. His arm strength has exploded from his time in the big leagues as a starter, and that ought to be usable in relief one way or another.
No, Rubby De La Rosa is not likely to enjoy a second career as the Arizona Diamondbacks’ closer of the future, but he gives the organization just another legitimate power bullpen arm waiting in the wings in Reno alongside Jimmie Sherfy and Jake Barrett. Of course, considering Rubby De La Rosa has 413 innings of big league experience already, he further won’t be fazed if/when his contract is purchased from the minors, and could even become valuable in a short/middle relief role in Phoenix should he ever be called upon.