It has been a memorable year for left-handed pitcher John Rooney. His big year began at Hofstra University, where he racked up 108 strikeouts in 95 innings pitched, while maintaining a 0.82 WHIP and a 10.23 K/9 ratio.
His impressive numbers caught the eye of Los Angeles Dodgers scouts, so the organization used their third-round selection (104th overall) to pick Rooney.
Thankful for the opportunity given to him this past June, Rooney believes the guidance from his coaches at Hofstra helped to put him in the position to take his game to the next level.
“My coaches definitely prepared me in a great way,” explained Rooney. “My pitching coach played pro ball, so he told me what to expect, and the head coach knows a lot about everything. Obviously at Hofstra the scene is a little different than other D-1 programs, but I definitely feel they prepared me well.”
That preparation transitioned nicely into his first professional season, as Rooney maintained a 9.45 K/9 ratio and a 1.10 WHIP in 20 innings pitched split between the rookie-level Arizona Dodgers and the low-A Great Lakes Loons.
Rooney’s success comes from the feel he has for his three-pitch mix. Currently using a fastball, slider, and changeup in his repertoire, Rooney discusses why he focuses more on fastball location than velocity.
“I make sure I’m hitting both spots for both righties and lefties,” stated Rooney. “I don’t try to throw it down the middle, because everybody at this level can hit a fastball. It doesn’t matter if you’re throwing 95 or 98, you still have to hit your spots to make progression.”
And while Rooney found success in 2018 with all of his pitches, he admits that he’d like to sharpen his slider more this offseason.
“I want to get my slider ready for backdoor and inside,” said Rooney. “Obviously that one pitch is big for me, so I want to get that backdoor slider going.”
Hopefully Rooney can do just that this offseason, so he can have another big season in 2019.