Under the Radar Yankees Prospects: Simon De la Rosa


Yanks Go Yard is combing through the New York Yankees minor league system in search of hidden gems in this ongoing series. Today, we look at starting pitcher Simon De la Rosa.

Simon De la Rosa’s pure stuff is some of the most overpowering in the New York Yankees minor league system. His fastball sits in the mid-90’s with a ton of movement and can hit 97. He pairs that impressive offering with a low-80’s swing-and-miss breaking ball. He’s also developing a change that should give him a chance to stick in the rotation long-term.

The reason De la Rosa hasn’t yet emerged as a big time pitching prospect is pretty evident with a quick look at his career numbers. Over his four professional seasons, De la Rosa has walked 14.3% of the batters he’s faced (5.6 BB/9).

To his credit, he’s racked up a ton of strikeouts to go along with all those free passes, striking out a simply nasty 27.8% of opponents as a pro (10.9 K/9). Still, the control needs to improve if he ever wants to reach the majors.

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Ben Badler of Baseball America (subscription required) called De la Rosa a sleeper prospect when the Yankees signed him for just $50,000 out of the Dominican Republic in October of 2012, noting the great extension he gets on his fastball because of his height and calling his curveball “above-average” with “tight spin.”

A late-bloomer who has consistently been a little old for his level during his slow climb up the minor league ladder, De la Rosa began his age-23 season with the Low-A Charleston Riverdogs this year, but was demoted to short-season Staten Island after getting lit up in the first half, pitching to a 6.10 ERA in 31 IP (five starts and five relief appearances), walking 17.5% of opponents, a rate of nearly a batter per inning.

Things went much better for De la Rosa in the New York-Penn League to finish the year. He threw 69.1 frames over 13 starts for Staten Island, cutting his walk rate down to a high-but-manageable 10.1% (3.8 BB/9) and pitching to a 3.38 ERA, his best mark at any stop of his MiLB career.

While his control problems would likely be mitigated somewhat pitching out of the bullpen, I’d like to see the team continue to have patience with De la Rosa as a starter. He should get another crack at Low-A Charleston in 2017, and continue to fine tune his mechanics and get a better handle on his electric stuff.

Next: Options at DH if the Yankees Trade McCann

De la Rosa is definitely still just a lottery ticket because of his almost complete lack of command, but the ceiling is a quality number three or four starter in a few years if he continues to improve.