Simon De La Rosa continues to make progress with his overall pitch-ability, especially this season.

STATEN ISLAND, NY -- Entering his fourth professional season this year, Simon De la Rosa is molding himself into an effective starting pitcher. Over the past three years, he has advanced in the organization with each successive season. After struggling with Charleston this May, his fortunes have changed in Staten Island.

Originally signed by the Yankees as an International Free Agent in 2013, De la Rosa began his career with one of the Yankees’ teams in the Dominican Summer League.  That season, he started 14 games, pitched just over 45 innings, and held his ERA to a semi-respectable 3.77.  However, he labored with his command, walking 33 hitters over that span. 

Since then, he has progressively risen throughout various levels, including the Gulf Coast League (GCL), Pulaski, and Charleston.  He had similar tribulations in those three levels as he originally did in the DSL, having a hard time locating his pitches consistently and seeing his ERA move from 4.43 in the GCL, to 3.71 in Pulaski, before erupting to 6.10 during his short stint with Charleston earlier this season. 

Nonetheless, more noted for his power arm, the time he has spent with those teams has helped him to become a better pitcher.  One of the toughest challenges he has dealt with recently with the Riverdogs has been controlling his mindset.

“With my mentality, all the time when I was going to pitch, I was trying to do well,” De la Rosa said through the help of a translator, “because I didn’t want to go back down to Extended Spring Training or Staten Island, since they pitch all the time with a lot of pressure.”

Despite being sent down from Charleston to Staten Island this June, he has thrived while being here.  Through eight games, he has kept his ERA down to an excellent 3.05, while only allowing 18 walks over 44 and 1/3 innings.  His WHIP is currently 1.17, almost 30 points lower than his career average for that statistic.  Additionally, out of those eight starts, four of them have been quality starts. 

“The coaching staff has talked to me, they knew that I was thinking too much [about my pitching] in Charleston, and they told me not to think that much, and clean my mind…Just be aggressive.  Since then, we’ve been seeing better results now.”

Between Pulaski last year and Staten Island this season, he has had a tough time finding his confidence at times.

“Right now, I have more experience, because I feel more comfortable,” commented De la Rosa. “When I played in Pulaski initially, I played at night with lights [for the first time], and there were fans, which I hadn’t seen at games before.  Now that I’ve played over there last year, [I’m more relaxed], so over here it’s a routine for me.”

Basically he's getting more comfortable.  Discussing the progress De la Rosa has made this season, pitching coach Travis Phelps alluded to the work that was put in during Extended Spring Training by the Dominican Republic native. 

“His aggressiveness [improved greatly],” Phelps detailed. “One thing that we really worked on was getting his arm angle up into a consistent arm slot, and he’s done a very good job of that, which has improved his splitter as well, and we’re starting to see the results."

In the early going for De la Rosa with Staten Island, he has put together some terrific outings, and those are demonstrating the strides he is making as a pitcher. 

“He’s looked good, he’s beat hitters consistently with his fastball," Phelps aid.  "[The pitch] explodes through the zone; the hitters don’t see it until late out of his hand, and in games where his secondary stuff has struggled, he has been beating hitters with that fastball, and it’s been great to watch."

Compared to the performances he endured in Charleston, where De la Rosa had many skirmishes over his short time there, he has dramatically turned things around with the Staten Island Yankees, and has resolved many of the problems from before.

“He’s been getting ahead of hitters early in the count, attacking the zone with all three pitches (fastball, curveball, and splitter), and using the split more," Phelps also emphasized.  "he’s gaining confidence in it, and learning the right time to throw it.  I think you’re seeing him mature, and grow as a pitcher.”

Additionally, De la Rosa’s resurgence has caught Manager Dave Bialas’s eye, and he has enjoyed the way De la Rosa has performed so far with his team.

“His breaking ball is a plus – that’s a strikeout pitch for him,” Bialas emphasized. “He has velocity, he’s looked great.  [For him], it’s just about commanding the ball, as with other young pitchers, he just needs some command, but he can definitely pitch at higher levels.”

As De la Rosa continues his time in his fourth different level of the Yankees farm system, his confidence is on the upswing, and Bialas believes that’s a key component to how the 6-foot-3 righty performs going forward.

“He pitches with all the confidence in the world, and works really hard.  With all of his pregame work, and everything that he does, he’s very confident in his abilities and we’re confident in him.  He has the velocity, a good breaking ball, and he has a chance to pitch in the big leagues, his stuff is definitely there,” Bialas concluded.

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