Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Acquired: Amateur Free Agent, 2009
Ranking History: #135 (2009), #126 (2010), #72 (2011)
De La Rosa slipped under the radar during the 2008 international signing period, inking his contract with the Tigers in February 2009 and debuting later that year in the Dominican Summer League. As an 18-year old, De La Rosa struggled to a 5.70 ERA in 53 2/3 innings that summer.
The Tigers kept him in the DSL for another turn in 2010 and he improved across the board, posting a 4.43 ERA in 65 innings, while also cutting his walk rate and improving his strikeout rate to nearly one per inning.
Brought stateside for the 2011 season, De La Rosa really started to put things together with a 3.19 ERA in 12 starts (67 2/3 innings). He allowed 70 hits and just 18 walks while striking out 50 batters.
The Tigers kept moving him slowly in 2012, holding him back in extended spring training before pushing him to short-season Connecticut for the summer. In 72 2/3 innings (15 starts), De La Rosa posted a 3.10 ERA and allowed just 66 hits while striking out 54 hitters.
De La Rosa's scouting report really started to fill out in 2012, as did his body. Standing 6-foot-6 and pushing 225-230 pounds at this point, De La Rosa is an absolute beast on the mound. Everything about him is huge, from his long arms and legs, to his enormous hands and imposing muscle. De La Rosa is the definition of a physical monster, and that physicality began to translate in his stuff last year.
Previous experience scouting De La Rosa had left the memory of an average fastball that was easy to project into the future. That projection came to life in 2012 as his two-seam fastball bumped up to 89-93 mph with tons of angle thanks to his height and long arms, as well as hard sink. On top of that, his four-seam fastball that features some light boring action was consistently clocked in the 94-95 mph range and I watched it touch 97-98 mph in multiple starts.
De La Rosa's go-to secondary pitch is a quality change-up that he has tons of confidence in, throwing it in just about any count. He has good arm speed deception with the pitch, selling it as a fastball out of his hand, but yanking 6-7 mph off the speed. He also generates plus fade on the change-up, making it even more effective.
While his slider is still below-average overall, De La Rosa did show some improved feel for the pitch in 2012. He was able to spin it more consistently and would occasionally flash an average slider in the 79-80 mph range. He tends to tip the pitch by slowing his arm speed and trying to snap it off when he needs to just let it fly.
As difficult as it may be to believe, the velocity on De La Rosa's pitches tends to play up a little bit thanks to his long stride toward the plate and long arms that extend his release point further than most pitchers.
The idea of control and command is still a bit foreign to De La Rosa. He will have frequent stretches where he struggles to throw strikes with any of his pitches and even when he is finding the zone, he does not locate consistently. There are a lot of moving parts and long limbs in De La Rosa's delivery, making his ultimate control/command projection difficult.
Even with the warts in his profile and the slow pace with which he has progressed through the system, De La Rosa still has the ceiling of a number three or four starter.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP BAA SS-A
De La Rosa's physical body and added muscle has allowed him to be a durable starter earlier in his career. He will face a stiff test in full-season ball in 2013 as he will be asked to log 100-125 innings or more for the first time in his career.
Despite his impressive progress in 2012, De La Rosa still has several developmental hurdles to navigate before he gains more acclaim as a prospect. The improvement of his fastball velocity and the sustainment of his quality change-up were excellent steps last year. In 2013, he will need to continue refining his slider and begin to harness his control. De La Rosa's progression is likely to continue at a slow pace and he remains 3-4 years from the big leagues.
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