Rubby De La Rosa’s Call-Up Gives Talented, Young Pitcher Chance to Lay Groundwork for More Significant Role

Rubby De La RosaRed Sox fans got a glimpse of Allen Webster earlier this season. Now, it’s time to check out the other pitching prospect that the Sox acquired in last August’s megadeal with the Dodgers.

The Red Sox, who were in desperate need of a fresh arm after a grueling four-game stretch, called up Rubby De La Rosa from Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday. The hard-throwing right-hander will likely be available out of the bullpen as the Sox continue their series with the Orioles, but the call-up could result in much more than a brief stint during a trying time for Boston’s pitching staff.

De La Rosa has been highly touted since his days in the Dodgers organization. He was the 90th-ranked prospect in baseball (according to Baseball America) prior to the 2011 season, and his overall repertoire has turned him into a very intriguing young pitcher whose ceiling — and future role, for that matter — is difficult to gauge, but exciting to consider.

PawSox pitching coach Rick Sauveur recently told WEEI.com that De La Rosa features a plus-fastball (92-98 mph), a plus-changeup with “ridiculous sink” and a slider that has “improved a ton.” That arsenal has led to fantastic results in Triple-A of late, as the 24-year-old has a 1.14 ERA with 31 strikeouts and 14 walks in 31 2/3 innings over his last eight outings.

De La Rosa showed flashes of dominance during spring training, and his relationship with Pedro Martinez only heightened the attention he garnered. The Red Sox have proceeded cautiously with De La Rosa, though, as he’s pitching in his first full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2011.

Although the organization has been cautious, it doesn’t necessarily mean that De La Rosa is incapable of making an impact with the Red Sox this season. De La Rosa has been stretched out as a starter down at Triple-A, but his lively arm figures to play well out of the bullpen as well. That means he could be used in either capacity this season, and Friday’s call-up shows that the Red Sox are willing to turn the righty loose, even if this particular arrival is mostly a product of circumstance.

De La Rosa, whose workloads have been closely monitored during his minor league starts, may need to be stretched out some more before big league spot starts begin entering the equation, but Friday’s call-up gives him a chance to lay the groundwork for a more significant role going forward. Right now, De La Rosa is being called up mainly out of necessity, as the Red Sox’ bullpen has been taxed, but a good showing could force the Sox’ hand.

If De La Rosa, who made 14 appearances (10 starts) with the Dodgers between 2011 and 2012, displays his filthy repertoire and enjoys success during his first big league call-up with the Red Sox, it’ll become difficult to justify keeping him stationed in the minors. The Red Sox obviously need to take a long-term approach with De La Rosa, but adding a dynamic bullpen arm that’s capable of getting hitters to swing and miss is an appetizing thought for a team with World Series aspirations.

Let’s not get ahead ourselves. But let’s also recognize that De La Rosa is pitching with a purpose during his first go-round with the Red Sox.

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