Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Signed in February 2009 as an 18-year old, De La Rosa was one of the Tigers sleeper signings from that year's international class. With a highly projectable frame, the Tigers saw plenty of promise in the teenaged Dominican.
De La Rosa debuted with the DSL Tigers that summer and posted a 5.70 ERA with a 3-3 record in 17 games (eleven starts). He struggled with his command, walking 20, and gave up 64 hits in just 53 2/3 innings.
With a return trip to the DSL in 2010, De La Rosa dropped his ERA by over a run to 4.43 in 20 outings (eleven starts). His improved pitching, including a lower walk rate and higher strikeout rate didn't translate to success in the win column as he led the DSL in losses (9).
The Tigers brought De La Rosa stateside for the 2011 season and he has posted a cumulative 3.57 ERA in seven starts for the GCL Tigers.
Every scouting report on De La Rosa starts with his frame. A huge six-foot-six youngster with a lanky 215 pounds he has room to add "good" mass to his frame and increase velocity.
De La Rosa's arm works well though he does struggle to maintain his slot. Because of his size and youth, De La Rosa still remains somewhat uncoordinated and will have to grow into his body and get a better feel for his long limbs in space.
De La Rosa's fastball has been as high as 92 on multiple occasions according to scouts and there might be more in the tank as he continues to mature physically. Many times he will show excellent downward angle to the plate, with his fastball changing planes as it passes through the strike zone.
Despite his good angle to the plate, De La Rosa works up in the zone too frequently and is prone to his stuff flattening out and becoming hittable. He needs to work lower in the zone more consistently and refine his command to allow him to work his fastball to both sides of the plate.
To round out his arsenal, De La Rosa offers a curveball that one scout gave a future 60-grade and a change-up that lags behind.
His curveball is a classic 12-6 breaker with good bite. He has confidence in the pitch and is beginning to learn the value of throwing it in a variety of counts. The next big step for his curveball will be is ability to locate it more precisely both in and out of the strike zone.
Though he continues to work on a change-up, the pitch remains well below-average and has a long way to go. He has a tendency to slow his arm down when throwing the change and even GCL hitters have begun to pick up on that tip.
There's a lot to dream on with De La Rosa's size, arm action and his already average curveball. That said, there is an enormous chasm between what De La Rosa is now and what he could become. He is a long shot to reach his ceiling, but that ceiling is considerable and could be as high as an all-star starter.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP AVG R
De La Rosa has been handled carefully through his first three years and he has not had any injury issues as a result.
De La Rosa will finish the summer in the Gulf Coast League and with a strong spring in 2012 could be in line for his full-season debut in the Midwest League. With just a solid spring, De La Rosa would likely be in line for a shot at the New York-Penn League next year.
De La Rosa isn't going to fly through the system as will likely require the full benefit of the developmental process. The Tigers will be trying to mold him from a projectable frame and thrower into a pitcher capable of utilizing his considerable raw tools.
Fans of the Tigers should be prepared for De La Rosa to take several years to get to the upper levels of the system, but if they are able to develop him in line with his projection, the Tigers could have a very useful Major League pitcher.
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