Aro Slowing The Game Down

FORT MYERS, FL – Jonathan Aro's numbers don't tell the whole story of the right-handed hurler's first season in the Gulf Coast League. A non-drafted free agent pick up for the Boston Red Sox out of Le Vega, Dominican Republic, Aro held a 3.06 ERA in 47 innings pitched in the Dominican Summer League during the 2011 season. He struck out 38 batters he faced in that time and walked only four.

Despite high earned run averages in his past few appearances with the 2012 GCL Red Sox, Aro is making mechanical strides and learning how to play the game with fiercer competition.

"I feel more sure of myself than in the Dominican Republic because I'm working harder," Aro said. "I feel that there are more challenging players over here to compete with and improve.

"Hitters [in the Gulf Coast League] are more aggressive than [Dominican Summer League]. The game is still the same, but the hitters come out more aggressive in games."

"Since the very first time I saw Aro, he's done a good job pounding the zone," Red Sox manager George Lombard said. "He's just got to learn that when you get ahead, you don't have to do too much. That's when you throw your good pitches.

"He works fast, works ahead in the count, but he needs to just be out there and go through these situations and become a smarter baseball player."

Through seven games and 24.1 innings pitched, the rookie league pitcher has given up 16 earned runs with 18 strikeouts. Aro's ERA currently sits at a lofty 5.92, but pitching coach Goose Gregson isn't so concerned with his earned run average at this point in his development.

"ERA is one of those statistics that's overrated, I think," Gregson emphasized. "It's great to have a nice ERA, but more important is your base-on-ball to strikeout ratio and the number of hitters you get ahead in the count.

"Those numbers are far more important because those kind of take care of the rest if you can throw first pitch strikes."

"There's a lot more to it than just throwing the baseball," Lombard added. "We were talking about that with [pitcher Frank] Montas too. The first couple of outings he's just up there throwing the ball and now's he starting to pitch a little bit."

At the end of a day of training, Jonathan Aro knows how far he's come and how far he still wants to go.

"I've leaned a lot more here," Aro said. "[The pitching staff explained that] my motion and action of my arm is slowing down when I throw the changeup and any of my pitches. And then with runners, either on first or second, and how you got to hold them depends on the situation; they've really helped.

"At first, I was a little bit tight, but the last couple of games I've been letting it go and staying comfortable and just pitching," the 21-year-old added.

"I've had to make adjustments because my pitch in the Dominican Republic was the changeup and I feel it hasn't been coming through for me, so I've got to feel my other pitches instead."

"Young kids that throw hard don't often trust the changeup. To convince them that this can really help you get out of some big innings, they have to find out first and see that this does work," Gregson stressed.

"Since we've had him, his whole game has been based on self confidence and there's time when his confidence waivers a little bit and he doesn't trust his stuff, gets a little bit too fine."

After a rocky start on Monday, July 16, against the GCL Rays, Aro refocused on the hill and put the Red Sox in a position to win the second game of doubleheader in the grueling Florida heat. The right-hander gave up just two hits, one run and fanned five in his five innings of work.

"When I got down and gave up [a run] I felt desperate, so I just tried to forget about what happened before and just keep on pitching, pitching to keep my team in it so I could get the win," Aro said.

"My two-seamer [fastball] is getting a lot of ground balls, so I'm confident in that. In the DR, I didn't throw a two-seam fastball, so by learning that pitch, it's been my most successful pitch in games an good situations."

GCL Red Sox manager George Lombard sees the drive and potential in Aro.

"We're trying to teach them to slow the game down – mentally, physically – you want to slow everything down where you're working the game at your own place. To me, I think it comes with experience.

"He's a kid that loves to take the ball and likes to be out there."


Diehard Magazine Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nDespite high earned run averages in his past few appearances with the 2012 GCL Red Sox, Aro is making mechanical strides and learning how to play the game with fiercer competition.
\r\n
\r\n\"I feel more sure of myself than in the Dominican Republic because I'm working harder,\" Aro said. \"I feel that there are more challenging players over here to compete with and improve.
\r\n
\r\n\"Hitters [in the Gulf Coast League] are more aggressive than [Dominican Summer League]. The game is still the same, but the hitters come out more aggressive in games.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"Since the very first time I saw Aro, he's done a good job pounding the zone,\" Red Sox manager George Lombard said. \"He's just got to learn that when you get ahead, you don't have to do too much. That's when you throw your good pitches.
\r\n
\r\n\"He works fast, works ahead in the count, but he needs to just be out there and go through these situations and become a smarter baseball player.\"
\r\n
\r\nThrough seven games and 24.1 innings pitched, the rookie league pitcher has given up 16 earned runs with 18 strikeouts. Aro's ERA currently sits at a lofty 5.92, but pitching coach Goose Gregson isn't so concerned with his earned run average at this point in his development.
\r\n
\r\n\"ERA is one of those statistics that's overrated, I think,\" Gregson emphasized. \"It's great to have a nice ERA, but more important is your base-on-ball to strikeout ratio and the number of hitters you get ahead in the count.
\r\n
\r\n\"Those numbers are far more important because those kind of take care of the rest if you can throw first pitch strikes.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"There's a lot more to it than just throwing the baseball,\" Lombard added. \"We were talking about that with [pitcher Frank] Montas too. The first couple of outings he's just up there throwing the ball and now's he starting to pitch a little bit.\"
\r\n
\r\nAt the end of a day of training, Jonathan Aro knows how far he's come and how far he still wants to go.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've leaned a lot more here,\" Aro said. \"[The pitching staff explained that] my motion and action of my arm is slowing down when I throw the changeup and any of my pitches. And then with runners, either on first or second, and how you got to hold them depends on the situation; they've really helped.
\r\n
\r\n\"At first, I was a little bit tight, but the last couple of games I've been letting it go and staying comfortable and just pitching,\" the 21-year-old added.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've had to make adjustments because my pitch in the Dominican Republic was the changeup and I feel it hasn't been coming through for me, so I've got to feel my other pitches instead.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"Young kids that throw hard don't often trust the changeup. To convince them that this can really help you get out of some big innings, they have to find out first and see that this does work,\" Gregson stressed.
\r\n
\r\n\"Since we've had him, his whole game has been based on self confidence and there's time when his confidence waivers a little bit and he doesn't trust his stuff, gets a little bit too fine.\"
\r\n
\r\nAfter a rocky start on Monday, July 16, against the GCL Rays, Aro refocused on the hill and put the Red Sox in a position to win the second game of doubleheader in the grueling Florida heat. The right-hander gave up just two hits, one run and fanned five in his five innings of work.
\r\n
\r\n\"When I got down and gave up [a run] I felt desperate, so I just tried to forget about what happened before and just keep on pitching, pitching to keep my team in it so I could get the win,\" Aro said.
\r\n
\r\n\"My two-seamer [fastball] is getting a lot of ground balls, so I'm confident in that. In the DR, I didn't throw a two-seam fastball, so by learning that pitch, it's been my most successful pitch in games an good situations.\"
\r\n
\r\nGCL Red Sox manager George Lombard sees the drive and potential in Aro.
\r\n
\r\n\"We're trying to teach them to slow the game down – mentally, physically – you want to slow everything down where you're working the game at your own place. To me, I think it comes with experience.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's a kid that loves to take the ball and likes to be out there.\"
\r\n
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