Amidst the big names and the nearly $250 million that the Red Sox unloaded onto the Dodgers in August 2012, it’s often forgotten that some great prospects came to Boston in that trade. Highlighting this group were Allen Webster and Rubby de la Rosa. Webster was the Dodgers’ #2 prospect at the time of the trade and is now #4 in the Red Sox’ system, and while de la Rosa had eliminated his prospect status by starting 10 games for the Dodgers in 2011, he is still very much a prospect in the true sense of the word.
One of the best and brightest pitching prospects in baseball heading into the 2011 season, de la Rosa flourished in the minors and eventually made it to the big leagues in June 2011. Once there, he pitched quite well for the Dodgers– posting a 3.71 ERA and 8.90 strikeouts per nine innings in 60.2 innings pitched. However, his young career took a turn for the worse when it was announced that he had to undergo Tommy John Surgery in August.
De la Rosa waited for the necessary recovery time and came into one game for the Dodgers before being traded to the Red Sox. Since he did not clear waivers, he was announced as a Player to be Named Later in that deal and did not pitch in 2012 other than one relief appearance. However, he should get ample opportunity to prove himself in 2013 in the Red Sox’ system.
With a full bullpen and rotation (except in the case of a trade), de la Rosa will likely start the season with Triple-A Pawtucket. So long as he posts strong numbers there, he should be the first call-up in case of an injury on the Red Sox though.
And rightly so, as there’s good reason he was a top prospect before his injury. De la Rosa runs his fastball into the high-90′s. He mixes that fearsome pitch in with a change that should develop into a plus pitch for the right-hander. His slider is still a work in progress, but it has potential to grade as a good pitch for de la Rosa.
However, there are still plenty of questions surrounding the hard-throwing de la Rosa. First and foremost is whether or not that slider will develop. If it does, then he should become an excellent, top of the rotation starting pitcher. If not, he should still become a quality late inning reliever. It’s hard to argue that de la Rosa has a higher ceiling than any other pitcher in the Red Sox’ system, as his ace potential outweighs the projectability of Matt Barnes, Allen Webster, and Henry Owens.
If all goes well, Red Sox fans should see quite a bit of de la Rosa in 2013, and hopefully he performs up to his potential. He’ll only be 24 in 2013 and still has plenty of room to grow. That’s what makes him so exciting as a prospect, as the last pitcher in this organization with the type of ceiling de la Rosa has is Pedro Martinez, who de la Rosa knew as a child. One can’t forget that it isn’t definite he’ll return well from his Tommy John Surgery, but if he does, it should be a very exciting season.