Left-hander Robbie Ross, the Texas Rangers' second round pick in the 2008 MLB Draft, reported to the club's minor league complex in Arizona shortly after signing his first professional contract in mid-August.
Because Ross signed so late in the season, the Rangers gave him a 2009 contract, meaning he was not eligible to play in any official games until the start of next season. Although Ross was able to work out with the rookie-level AZL Rangers for the season's final two weeks, he wasn't allowed to step between the lines and toe the rubber.
Just two weeks after the AZL season came to an end, Ross headed back to Arizona for Fall Instructional League, where he was finally able to pitch in a game.
Lone Star Dugout recently chatted with Ross about his first instructs experience.
Jason Cole: I talked to you right after you signed and it seemed like you were having a lot of fun out here. Now that we're towards the end of instructs, how's it going now?
Robbie Ross: It's going good. I'm finally getting to start to pitch. I've thrown about seven or eight innings, I don't know how many. But I'm starting to get the hang of throwing to guys that are a lot better than high school players. I'm getting used to it.
Cole: How frustrating was it coming out here and not being able to pitch in games at first?
Ross: I guess it was just a process of getting used to it. I really didn't know the feeling of just sitting around and waiting to do something like that. It was really humbling, the fact that you have to wait for some things. But it's good now because I'm finally getting to start to play.
The wait was well worth it because I can see why they say, ‘we're going to wait until this time so you don't burn out or anything.' Right now, I haven't thrown this much. Every day we throw. You'll go out and throw an inning and then the next day you'll go out and throw long toss. You have to get used to the process.
Cole: How many innings per outing have you been going out here?
Ross: The first time, I threw two innings. Then the second time I threw three. The third time, I was supposed to throw four, but I only got to two and two-thirds.
Cole: Was it tough to take so much time off after your high school season and suddenly be throwing in games again?
Ross: Oh yeah. It seems like I was just coming off from winter baseball. It was like being in winter, then having the whole winter off, and having to come back and play. That's what it felt like.
Cole: Did you get to go home at all between AZL and instructs?
Ross: Yeah, I got to go home for two weeks. During that time I kind of just ran, worked out, and threw as much as I could just to get ready.
Cole: When you left after the AZL season, did the Rangers give you anything to work on before you came out for instructs?
Ross: Just to be loose and ready to throw whenever.
Cole: Since the time you signed with the Rangers, how do you feel you have progressed as a player?
Ross: I feel like I've improved a little bit. I don't really know much difference because I haven't had time to see what has really happened. But I'm starting to focus a lot more on the mound than I used to. I'm trying to throw more quality pitches.
Cole: What have you been working on both in bullpen sessions and in games out here?
Ross: They just said, ‘do what you've got to do right now and if we see anything we need to fix, we'll fix it.' I said okay and I just went out and started throwing. I noticed that I need to work a little more on my stretch and things like that – and my pickoff move. But everything else is pretty much alright. There hasn't been much trouble with anything else.
Cole: So they haven't changed anything mechanically or messed with any of your pitches yet?
Ross: No, they said that if anything was to happen, they would probably jump in and figure that out for me.
Cole: What are you looking forward to doing in the offseason now that instructs is ending?
Ross: I'm looking forward to getting home and being around my family again. I'm getting a hunting dog and I'm going to try and train it. I'm going to take off a month from throwing. It will be good to have that break from baseball for a little while.
Then I'll get back to it later on, but I'm sure that I will miss it for the three or four months, whatever it is. It will be a lot of maturing, growing up, and doing some conditioning for when it's time to come back for spring training.
Cole: Have the Rangers told you anything about their plans for you next season?
Ross: All I know is they said they're just going to take me slow because I'm a high school player and I didn't throw as many innings as they expected I did.
Cole: Going into next season, have you set any goals for yourself already? Is there anything you want to accomplish in your first season of professional ball?
Ross: I'd really like to get to Hickory. That's really close to my hometown. I'd really like to keep moving and progressing and to play for God. Whatever he does with me, he does.
I just hope that I play well and if I don't, then that's the way it goes sometimes. You've just got to learn from it. I hope I can learn a lot more than I already have out here already.
Instructs an eye-opener for Ross
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