Finding A New Market

When you are the 726th player drafted in a draft, your odds of making it to the major leagues are incredibly slim. Only two players drafted in that spot (and signed) in the history of the draft have donned a major league uniform: Milt Hill and Dane De La Rosa.  It took De La Rosa five seasons of pitching, in any league, to throw his first pitch above A-ball. That time frame included stints in places such as Yuma, Helena, Long Beach, and Victoria with stops in between. It also included a stop in the real estate market in 2006 trying to close deals on houses.

The Rays gave him another chance in 2010, and he finally reached the major leagues on July 20th, 2011. He went on to pitch 11 more games in Tampa Bay before being traded to the Angels late in the 2013 Spring Training season. De La Rosa went to the Angels as a pitcher that struggled to command his fastball.  Yet another new location for De La Rosa, but with it came a new approach to his craft.

In looking at video of De La Rosa from the past two seasons, he has made some minor tweaks to his delivery. The first changes come in his setup for his delivery (click all images to enlarge).

start2012 start2013

The first image is from 8/27/12 when De La Rosa mopped up a 13-3 blowout against Boston while the second one came in his second save of his career against his former team. The 2013 image shows that De La Rosa has changed where he starts on the rubber while also starting his hands a bit higher, and closing off his front side more than he did in 2012.

At the max lift portion of his delivery, he now resembles the man he was called up to replace on the roster in 2013, Jered Weaver.

2_2012 2_2013

De La Rosa has more bend in his back leg, has brought his hands closer to his body, and has more twist in his upper body as he shows his back to the opposing hitter. These adjustments allowed him to stay closed easier in order for him to open his hips up to come to the plate in rhythm with his delivery.

3_2012 3_2013

One of the thing that stands out in reviewing De La Rosa from 2013 is his increased velocity.

ddlrvelo

 

The data from BrooksBaseball shows that shows that the average velocity on De La Rosa’s four-seam fastball rose nearly each month of the season in 2013, continuing the trend that started in 2012.

Month Avg Velo
April 2012 92.2 mph
Sept 2012 93.2 mph
April 2013 93.7 mph
May 2013 94.8 mph
June 2013 95.7 mph
July 2013 95.6 mph
Aug 2013 95.6 mph
Sept 2013 96.4 mph

The data also shows that De La Rosa was throwing from a bit of a higher release point, which pitchers can use to add velocity while sacrificing horizontal movement. The increased velocity led to increased results. Opponents slugged just .277 against him last season, which was in the top tenth percentile of all relief pitchers that faced at least 200 batters in 2013. His Contact% as well as his opponents wOBA were both in the top-third of the same sample size. The improvements led to more success against right-handed batters as his swing and miss rate against those batters (35.5%) was higher than the likes of Koji Uehara (35.1%) and Craig Kimbrel (34.0%).

The Angels have had their issues in recent years harvesting pitching talent from their farm system, but they appear to have done quite well thus far here. They’ve turned an undrafted organizational middle reliever into an opportunity for a home town kid to go good. So far, so good.




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13 Responses to “Finding A New Market”

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  1. Hurtlockertwo says:

    I get the control of your pitches part, but how does a kid with a 92-93mph fastball fall so far in the draft? Are there so many kids throwing 95-96mph these days that 92-93 mph doesn’t even get noticed anymore?

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  2. Wobatus says:

    Decent Ks, nice gb percentage. Good for him.

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  3. what...? says:

    Someone needs to explain the title to me… What does this have to do with “Finding a new market?” Is that a pun on his real estate job?

    I thought this would be about scouts being sent to countries outside of Japan/Latin America.

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  4. Question Everything says:

    Not out and out accusing, but isn’t this what we are all guilty of in the last decade? a 4 MPH jump in velocity from a 29/30 journeyman pitcher and instead of thinking it’s PED’s, we just say it was a tweak in his delivery… It’s not just stars who use, it’s guys just trying to make a major league roster.

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    • Question Everything says:

      29/30 year old*

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      • Pointing Out says:

        It sounds like you’re “out and out accusing.”

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        • Iron says:

          It was certainly the first thought that popped into my head. The article was very interesting, but a final mostly joking paragraph consisting of “Or… maybe he just started using HGH” would not have been entirely out of place. It’s naive to think otherwise in 2014.

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    • cass says:

      This is definitely why velocity started going up right after pitch f/x was implemented rather than during the time before testing when a large percentage of players were presumably using steroids and HGH. Velocity is certainly not related to better training techniques or an increased understanding of pitching gained from the pitch f/x data.

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    • Ryan W Krol says:

      Steroids have mainly been used to recovery from injuries quicker. This allowed more players to play more 150 game seasons, and that’s one reason there were so many big seasons from them. There is no scientific evidence that points to players’ actual performance improving, other than being a result of recovering from nagging injuries quicker.

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  5. Eric Lutz says:

    I am not accusing anyone of anything. However, the mantra I always heard growing up was,

    –you can teach proper technique from the wind up or stretch, or
    –the proper pickoff move, or
    –the ability to square up and field your position, and
    –you can even learn to throw a multitude of pitches,
    –build confidence by teaching command,
    –learn hitter tendencies through video, etc, but the one thing you cannot do

    is teach is 95 mph!

    So how the heck does a guy go from an AVERAGE fastball of 93.2 to 96.2 in one year?

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