Name: Leo Rosales
DOB: May 28, 1981
The Los Angeles native has been an interesting baseball persona. With a little bit of Jekyll and Hyde, Leo Rosales goes from terrible to suave in the blink of an eye.
"It is tough on young guys when they have always had success and they get into a situation where the first two or three outings they don't have the same type of success they are used to of course they try to do more as a result," 2006 Mobile manager Gary Jones said. "More is not always better. Sometimes you have to take a guy and back him off and put him in a more relaxed, comfortable position, which we did with Leo. "We sent him back to Elsinore and within a couple of weeks he was back and he was his old self, being aggressive, using his changeup, locating his fastball and throwing that darting slider that he has. He ended up having a strong year."
A slow starter, Rosales has been bashed during the early months of the year. He has a 5.40 ERA over the last two years in the months of April and May with 24 earned runs allowed while pitching in the league he spent the majority of the year.
The good times are really good, though, as Rosales shines despite his moniker. From June through the end of the year over that same span he has surrendered 21 earned runs and sports a 2.18 ERA.
"I think a lot of that is confidence too because early in the year – he is very hard on himself," Double-A pitching coach Glenn Abbott said. "I had many, many, many conversations with him saying, ‘You just have to let it go.' When you are a reliever you let it go because you are going to be in there tomorrow. He just hated to give up runs. He went down for a couple of weeks after struggling when he was here. When he came back he was like a different guy. He understood what he needed to do and pitched very well. His numbers were daylight/dark from the first half to the second half. He went from a 5-something in the first half to the second half where it was a two."
In 2004, Rosales struggled and was relegated to extended spring training duty before boasting a 1.40 ERA over 53 games with the Fort Wayne Wizards.
Perhaps it is the prospect of a new league that gets Rosales' nerves in a tizzy before he settles into his role. Admittedly, the right-hander isn't even sure why it happens that way. When the comfort zone and confidence return, there is little debating his success.
"Rosie did a very good job," Abbott added. "He got more confidence. He didn't walk many people because he was walking people early and they were scoring on him. He would walk some people and then make a bad pitch but in the second half he wasn't walking people, was staying aggressive and has that real good changeup and got much better."
The right-hander pitched for the Peoria Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League and led the league in saves with seven. He surrendered runs in just three of his 13 outings, holding the opposition to a .192 average.
Rosales features a nasty changeup that often gets left-handed hitters chasing outside of the zone and compliments that with a two-seam fastball that hits 93 MPH but works mostly at 88-91 and a biting slider that creates havoc on right-handed hitters and handcuffs lefties when he toes their back foot.
The plus changeup is by far his best pitch and his ability to locate the fastball on both corners allows him to put away hitters with the changeup, often placing it on the outside corner and watching as hitters swing over top of the offering. The same pitch hangs slightly when he throws it to right-handed hitters on the outside of the plate, allowing them to get extension and hit it the opposite way.
Rosales, 25, is a generally aggressive pitcher who loves to close and had to adjust to working as a setup man in Mobile this past season. He will pitch inside and when his control is working he attacks the hitters with his best stuff.
ETA: Rosales' addition to the 40-man roster bodes well. He will begin the year in Triple-A Portland but may be among the first pitchers to be called up in situations of need. His ability to get left-handed hitters out as a righty will be a huge benefit in the big leagues. It is, however, a must that Rosales gets out of the gate in a positive way. His slow starts have been a concern in the past and are still today. The other question is what will happen to his confidence if he is shelled in his big league debut? He has, so far, bounced back in glowing fashion after moving back down a level to settle the nerves. He won't get that chance this time around so he must be prepared from the start.