Rumbelow Clicking

It doesn't seem possible that reliever Nick Rumbelow had just finished his Staten Island season this time a year ago. He is already knocking on the big league door after ascending four different minor league levels in his first full professional season this year, getting all the way to Triple-A and dominating nearly every step of the way. He is clicking right now in a big way.

"I thought it was a really good year," he said. "I got to play with a bunch of awesome guys going through four different levels. I played for some really good coaches and different ball clubs, and looking back at this year I feel like it was a good success and a lot of fun as well."

It's easy to have fun when you're posting a combined 2.62 ERA and striking out 81 batters in just 58.1 innings, and perhaps even exceeding his own expectations with his swift journey through the minor leagues.

"I can't say that I had the goal of being anywhere in particular," he admitted. "I just really go day by day, inning by inning, pitch by pitch, and do what I can do. I really just leave the rest up to the people that control that for me."

What he can control is his own work. Known for a plus fastball-plus curveball combination that conjures up images to a young David Robertson, he entered his first full professional season this year with the goal of furthering the development of his changeup and it is now just yet another thing he can cross off of his things-to-do list.

"It's a pitch that I'd go to in a 2-2 count with the game on the line so it's right up there with my confidence level being able to throw it in a big game in a big time," he opined. "I think it just improved by throwing it [more]. I don't think I improved the trajectory of it necessarily, [it just improved] by throwing it more for a strike."

While his changeup made marked improvements, it's what the improved changeup meant to his overall game where he felt he progressed the most in 2014.

"I think it was mostly mixing all three of my pitches together and learning from the really good coaches that we have in this system. It's pretty easy to be successful when you have a lot of good people in your corner. I'd say though that the fastball command took a pretty big step forward."

What also allowed to bring his entire game together was soaking in all of the nuances from the various minor league levels. While he didn't stay at a particular level for very long -- he was in Double-A for a mere seven games for example -- he says he learned as much as he could at each stop.

"Obviously as you move up you're facing more polished talent and older guys so I just took to learning from the guys in the bullpen, especially in Triple-A, guys that had big league time and stuff like that, and be right there to listen to what they had to say," he said. "I learned from them and pick up things that I can learn from them, and elevate my game."

Striking out better than eleven batters per inning and increasing his his strikeout ratio overall from college, not to mention cutting his walk ratio nearly in half in comparison to his time at LSU, it is quite evident that things are clicking for him a big way right now.

"I'm down here at Instructs right now so we're refining the little things of the game. Just little things; you can always get better at holding runners and just little things like that. Nothing jumps out that says I can't pitch in the big leagues.

"Right now everything is clicking and going well. There's really nothing that I think that has to change in a big part. My arm was healthy all year [too] so everything was good."

Seldom do Triple-A pitchers go to Instructional League but it isn't commonplace for many first-year pitchers to get to Triple-A either. Ascending as quickly as he has and clicking like he has done would give anyone a great deal of confidence, but Rumbelow isn't going to let it get to his head.

"It's obviously good but you have to remain humble and humiliation is a good thing to remember others are still working hard so I'm looking forward to a big offseason to come back even better than I was this past year," he concluded.

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