03/09/10 5:28 PM ET
Hard working Del Rosario getting noticed
Dominican pitcher competing in first big league camp
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
2010 Spring Training - Major League Baseball
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Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
"I hoped I could help him a little bit," Brown said. "He was just one of those guys that had an over-the-top four-seam fastball and threw 93 mph. He had a 9.00 ERA and that didn't work real well. But he was such a great athlete. He had the ability to field his position, make quick decisions and do things almost like a shortstop.
"[Then Gulf Coast League Reds manager] Pat Kelly and I sat there and said you know what? Let's give it a shot."The process of changing Del Rosario's arm angle was gradual. First, he went from overhand to three-quarters side arm and now he's at what could be considered lower three-quarters. At Sarasota, catchers Devin Mesoraco and Jake Long led him through the game and reminded Del Rosario between pitches to "change his slot" if he slipped back to overhand. "I threw much better and I feel much better from the side than overhand," said Del Rosario, who worked one perfect inning during Monday's "B" game vs. the Brewers. "I was throwing too straight and the hitters got me pretty good. From the side, I got more sink and more movement." "He started to figure it out and realized how good of a sinker he has," Brown said. "He understood this is all I have to do. It's not like he had to overpower guys anymore. He could get a ground ball and being the great athlete he is, you can't bunt on him." Upward mobility came quickly after Del Rosario spent the first half the season in Sarasota. There were just 10 days logged at Double-A before a promotion to Triple-A on July 30. In 15 games for Louisville, Del Rosario posted a 1.09 ERA and the ERA was 1.99 over 22 1/3 innings for Cibao of the Dominican Winter League. With Del Rosario's sinker, an improved slider and ability to throw strikes, the Reds envision his eventually being a late-innings reliever. With runners on base, he could induce double plays and get his team out of tight situations. "He has confidence in what he does," Brown said. "He's got a great pickoff move. He's a great PFP guy. You can't bunt on him. He can turn double plays on ground balls other pitchers couldn't get to. Ernie is not afraid. It takes a special guy to pitch late in the game, it really does. It's not just stuff. It takes a special makeup. Ernie has no fear. If he gets beat today, he will beat you tomorrow."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.