Rodebaugh settling into comfort zone

SURPRISE, Ariz. – After posting a 3.33 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 24.1 innings during his professional debut last summer, right-hander Ryan Rodebaugh is looking forward to his first full season. Lone Star Dugout sat down with the reliever for a Q&A session.

Right-hander Ryan Rodebaugh emerged as an intriguing relief prospect during his time with short-season Spokane last summer. The Rangers' 15th-round pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, Rodebaugh logged 24.1 innings out of the Indians' bullpen. He posted a 3.33 earned-run average, yielding 18 hits while walking nine and striking out 34.

The 6-foot-0, 165-pound hurler signed after a three-year career at Kennesaw State University. He made 13 starts in his junior season (2010), going 4-6 with a 4.67 ERA. Over 79 innings, Rodebaugh surrendered 91 hits, walked 35, and struck out 86.

Though he was a starting pitcher in college, Rodebaugh is a full-time reliever in professional ball. He features a three-pitch mix that includes a 90-92 mph fastball that touches up to 93 and two offspeed pitches in a low-80s slider and changeup. The prospect hasn't thrown the changeup much, as he explains below, but the pitch flashed good sinking action when he used it at fall instructional league.

While the 21-year-old doesn't have an overpowering arsenal, his ability to command all three of his pitches down in the zone with consistency led to success in Spokane last season. He is likely to begin the 2011 campaign by pitching out of the bullpen for one of the Rangers' full-season A-ball clubs.

Lone Star Dugout caught up with Rodebaugh after a recent minor league spring training game.

Jason Cole: Tell me about your first experience of pro ball last summer, when you played in Spokane.

Ryan Rodebaugh: I really think it was the best situation for me, from what I've heard. The ballparks that we traveled to and Spokane were just a perfect fit. It was the best first-year experience I could have asked for.

Cole: Talking a little about your game on the mound, can you talk about what's in your arsenal?

Rodebaugh: I throw a four-seam and a two-seam fastball, a changeup, and then a slider.

Cole: Did you use the change very often in college?

Rodebaugh: I actually didn't. It has been a work in progress. I'm trying to establish that more. Especially now that I'm in pro ball, it's a lot more necessary.

Cole: You got to attend instructs after a successful debut with Spokane. How did that go? What were you able to work on?

Rodebaugh: It definitely gave me more comfort going into spring training. I got to know a lot more people and a lot more coaches. I feel like I fit in more. It was a good experience.

Cole: Being sort of a new guy, what's it like out here over the first couple days of spring training?

Rodebaugh: It's a little overwhelming at first. You see all the guys, and everybody is fighting for a position on certain teams. But it's fun. You can't ask for anything better than to play baseball.

Cole: How much have you been throwing out here so far?

Rodebaugh: I pretty much threw off the mound every other day for the first week. I haven't thrown in a game yet––I'll be throwing for the Double-A team tomorrow.

Cole: One of your Spokane teammates, Nick McBride, spent his offseason in Massachusetts, working out with trainer Eric Cressey. I know you've worked with him as well. How did you get connected with him?

Rodebaugh: The Kennesaw State pitching coach actually is the connection. He does a lot of work with him––goes to conferences with him. He just implements a structured workout plan specific to your body and where you need to increase flexibility, strength, or whatever. It has worked really well for me.

Cole: Did you go up to his facility in Massachusetts to work out with him?

Rodebaugh: I went up two summers ago. That was the only time I've been up there. But I've been in contact with him and he has sent me workout plans from there.

Cole: And is that something you will look to continue in future years?

Rodebaugh: Definitely. I think everything he has gotten going for me has worked out really well.

Cole: What are you looking for out of yourself in your first full season?

Rodebaugh: I think just maintaining my consistency with all my pitches––especially the secondary pitches. I want to be a guy that can come out any day and just throw strikes and get the job done.

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