With a minor league system loaded with pitching depth, the Toronto Blue Jays are continuing their tradition of producing quality big league arms. With talent at every level, it’s a good idea to keep track of the pitchers performing with each affiliate throughout the season.
The development of young pitchers is one of the main reasons for the Vancouver Canadians dominance of the Northwest League in 2014, as the club reached the league finals for the fourth consecutive season. The C’s unfortunately lost to Hillsboro in the championship round, but took away many positives. One of which was their bullpen play. Yeyfry Del Rosario, a right-hander was one of those arms that jumped off the page, as the 20-year old Dominican Republic native pieced together an excellent 2014 season that began with a brief stint in Lansing before joining the Canadians in June.
Del Rosario who began his season with an opportunity to play in the Crosstown Showdown, an annual exhibition game played between the Lansing Lugnuts and Michigan State University in April. Although the result doesn’t count to the Lugnuts overall win/loss record, it gives the Blue Jays the opportunity to send up some of their players from extended spring training to get a taste of full season action.
The young right-hander was one of the players to make the trip and it was memorable for Del Rosario, who collected the first two outs of the ninth inning of a 3-2 victory. Facing the minimum amount of batters to get his two outs; Del Rosario recorded a strikeout and a fly out on the contest. Excited for the opportunity, Del Rosario wouldn’t have to wait long for another opportunity in Lansing, as he was activated from extended spring training on April 29th and stayed with the club to mid-June.
”I was happy to be invited to the Crosstown Showdown. It was a huge honor they wanted me to play in the game,” said Del Rosario. “I also enjoyed my time in Lansing. It’s a nice city and the support for the team is outstanding. It was a great experience all around.”
Making nine relief appearances in Lansing, Del Rosario had a 1-1 record with a 3.86 ERA and 20 strikeouts in his 18 2/3 innings of work. Impressive numbers for a player who was roughly two years younger than most of his competition, but the stat that really jumps out was Del Rosario’s 1.179 WHIP while playing for the Lugnuts.
Making an excellent first impression on Lansing Lugnuts pitching coach Vince Horsman, the retired big leaguer admits he didn’t know much about Del Rosario prior to working with him in Lansing, but he’s now excited for his future.
“The couple times I’ve seen Del Rosario pitch, I liked what I saw,” said Horsman. “He goes after the hitters and trusts his stuff. I didn’t know a lot about him before he came to Lansing, but I liked the way he handled himself and I look forward to learning more about him in the future.”
Despite the nice start in Lansing, the organization needed Del Rosario to finish up in Vancouver. While he would have probably preferred staying in Lansing, the prospect handled the assignment with class, as he was still progressing nicely.
Making 18 relief appearances in the Northwest League, Del Rosario became a staple in the C’s bullpen compiling a 4-1 record with a 4.07 ERA, 35 strikeouts, and a save on the season. The young prospect gave the C’s a versatile reliever that could come in the game at any point and get outs.
While in Vancouver, Del Rosario’s WHIP increased to 1.52, which is probably a little higher than he would like. The young righty improved his K/9 ratio from 9.6 to 12.9, while dropping his opponent batting average from .236 to .205, both of which are great signs moving forward. All-and-all his time in Vancouver was a positive one.
The success Del Rosario has found on the mound at a young age is mostly due to his excellent pitch repertoire. The Dominican features four pitches, which includes: a fastball, slider, changeup, and sinker. The young pitcher’s fastball usually sits around 90-91 miles per hour and he features one of the best sliders you’ll ever see, as it features excellent break and gets a lot of swings-and-misses.
Originally joining the organization as an international free agent in 2011, Del Rosario was excited for the opportunity to play professional baseball. Describing what the moment meant to him Del Rosario remembers it like yesterday.
“I was really happy when I found out Toronto wanted to sign me, because that was my goal,” stated Del Rosario. “Growing up I always dreamed of playing professional baseball and when that opportunity was presented to me I was very excited and ecstatic. It was a dream come true moment.”
Looking to join a team out of spring training in 2015, there’s a good chance Del Rosario will return to Lansing to begin his 2015 campaign. No matter the destination, be sure to follow Yeyfry Del Rosario, as he continues to surprise coaches, fans, and hitters.