Pedro Martinez watched as Rubby De La Rosa grew up to become a highly touted pitching prospect. Martinez, a special assistant with the Red Sox, will now work alongside De La Rosa in the hope that the hard-throwing right-hander will become one of the game’s greats.
Martinez sees no reason why De La Rosa won’t achieve big things.
“Anything you want to do in baseball, as far as pitching, that kid has a chance,” Martinez said, according to WEEI.com. “He has an opportunity to be someone special. Not just a regular player, but special. When you see someone like De La Rosa you think someone special, like a [Roger] Clemens, a Juan Marichal. You think about elite players. That’s the type of stuff he has.”
De La Rosa, of course, came over to Boston in the trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to Los Angeles. At the time, the 23-year-old probably didn’t know he’d eventually have a chance to pick the brain of Martinez, who rejoined the Red Sox organization last month, on a daily basis.
De La Rosa already had ties to Martinez, though, so the two coming together this spring training is actually a reunion of sorts. De La Rosa grew up admiring Martinez and his brother, Ramon, while living in the Dominican Republic. De La Rosa, who the Dodgers originally signed as an amateur free agent in 2007, said earlier this offseason that his grandmother was the Martinez brothers’ nanny when they were little, and that he has kept in touch with them since. In fact, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford points out that De La Rosa and Martinez recently found out that they’re actually related — they’re apparently cousins on Martinez’s mother’s side.
Relationship aside, though, Martinez clearly thinks the world of De La Rosa. One has to in order to toss around names like Clemens and Marichal when talking about a pitcher’s stuff. But according to Martinez, De La Rosa has more than just a mid-90s fastball and a knee-buckling changeup.
“What really impresses me is his progress,” Martinez said. “He’s a young kid. Very young. The way he changed physically, and the way he improved … His velocity went from day night and day. It’s unbelievable how he changed. Also, his will to work. You rarely see a young kid like that so willing to work, and so open to work to do things things nobody expects a young kid wanting to do.”
De La Rosa will have to continue demonstrating a strong work ethic this spring in order to earn a spot on the Red Sox’ pitching staff. With the five rotation spots likely taken up by Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster, John Lackey and Felix Doubront to begin the year, De La Rosa could find himself starting the season at Triple-A Pawtucket. However, if that’s the case, De La Rosa just might be the first guy that gets a phone call from the big club if something happens to one of Boston’s hurlers.
Perhaps Martinez will have the honor of making that call.