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The rise of Daniel Rosenbaum

Six-hundred and fifty-one picks after they chose Stephen Strasburg last year, the Nationals drafted a left-hander from Xavier named Daniel Rosenbaum. He was short; he had a 5.28 ERA his final college season; and his fastball topped out at 92. Every team in baseball passed him over at least 21 times before the Nationals made him the first pick of the 22nd round. He was as anonymous as he could be.

"If a guy goes out there and puts up zeros as often as he has this year," Class A Potomac pitching coach Paul Menhart said, "he becomes a guy."

Rosenbaum is a name you should know. He outgrew Hagerstown more than a month ago and has been just as dominant during his first six starts at Potomac. During his 134 total innings this year, Rosenbaum has a 2.34 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP and a 2.8-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He might be the Nationals' minor league pitcher of the year. (Tom Milone, who has a 2.89 ERA and an eye-popping 6.5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio at Class AA Harrisburg, is probably the only other pitcher with a case.)

The difference between Rosenbaum's pedestrian college career and his standout minor league beginning seems to be his willingness about and success with throwing inside. At Xavier, he constantly pounded the outside. Last year in the Gulf Coast League, coaches Bobby Henley, Mark Grater and Joel Sanchez convinced him to throw in. "Because these bats," Menhart said, "will break."

Rosenbaum figured it out, and everything else fell into place. He throws a fastball that can either cut or sink, a curveball, a slider and a changeup he developed last season. "Four solid, major league average pitches," Menhart said. The changeup is "the equalizer. That's pretty much what's going to make him a pretty successful big leaguer. It's the weakest of the four, but it's not far behind."

The more Menhart comes to know Rosenbaum, the more things he comes to like. His fastball, though it sits in the 88-92 range, is "sneaky-quick," Menhart said. "He's got that. He induces a lot of ugly swings from a lot of very good hitters. He's actually got really strong legs. By having those strong legs, he's able to hide the ball. He's very deceptive. He's got a nice, short arm action, and the ball kind of jumps up on you. Hitters don't pick it up very well. And he's not afraid to throw in."

Menhart realized Rosenbaum, 22, could field his position. He had a nice pickoff move. He was competitive. All the things that were so easy to miss at the time of the draft, Rosenbaum had.

"What he does real well is, he commands his body and he's able to repeat his delivery. He's got four solid pitches - solid, major league average pitches. He commands them all, so the numbers indicates that. He gets out there, and he's competitive as you can find, too. Hates missing spots. Sometimes, gets a little more frustrated than he should. But I love him. I think he's a big leaguer. I really do."

By Adam Kilgore  |  August 24, 2010; 2:45 PM ET
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Stephen Strasburg made a pretty good case to be the Nats minor league pitcher of the year, wouldn't you say?

Posted by: FeelWood | August 24, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

'The difference between Rosenbaum's pedestrian college career and his standout minor league beginning seems to be his willingness about and success with throwing inside."

Okay, who let him talk to Dibble?

Posted by: FeelWood | August 24, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Kev29 | August 24, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

SS is making a good run at the 15-Day-DL Pitcher of the Year, on top of it.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 24, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Adam: Glad you spent the weekend with one of the farm teams - That's more than your predecessor was willing to do. Good job.

While you highlight Rosenbaum in your piece (6'1", 210lbs, 22nd round, '09), you also touch on Milone; That's the guy who really deserves the press this year, imo.

Another somewhat slightly-built (6'1", 205) LH, Milone was drafted in the 10th round in '08 out of USC, and was considered to be not much more than 'orginizational depth' by most of the internet pundits. In the two years since signing, all he has done is 'get batters out' consistantly, regardless of level.

Here are their professional numbers, to date:
Milone - 64GP [59GS], 348.3IP, 3.00ERA, 1.197WHIP, 4.27:1K/W, 23-16 W/L.
Rosenbaum - 35GP [32GS], 171.3IP, 2.26ERA, 1.161WHIP, 2.82:1K/W, 8-8 W/L.

While Rosenbaum may be a pitcher to watch for the future, Milone is a pitcher to include in the now.

Posted by: BinM | August 24, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the info, Adam. Enjoyed the article.

Posted by: RLFWDC | August 24, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, AK, for stopping to smell the Rosenbaum. This almost makes up for posting the vid of Feinstein.

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | August 24, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Milone deserves the press. I think a large part of the focus on Rosenbaum was because Kilgore happened to be in Potomac and was actually able to do journalism and interview coaches and stuff. Milone's lapped the field and I'd be shocked if he didn't get Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
Strasburg didn't really have enough innings to get Minor League Pitcher of the year. Milone's got to get it.
The flip side on Rosenbaum: He was old for the level in Hagerstown. 22 year old college guys are old for low A full season ball. His K/9 has dropped from 7.45/9 to 5.97/9 since his promotion to Potomac. He's in his first time through the Carolina League late in the season so some of the more dominant prospects (like Burgess and Lombardozzi for our P-Nats) have earned promotions out of the league to AA. Lastly, he's one of these guys who projects to be no higher than a 4/5 starter if he makes the big leagues and it doesn't sound like he has the stuff to be a power reliever in short spurts. I doubt he'll be on our top 20 prospect lists at the end of the season.
Milone on the other hand gets a similar lack of respect from the scouts because his fast ball tops out around 85-88MPH. For that reason, I thought he didn't make our prospect lists. What's been amazing about Milone is that he jumped up to AA, typically one of the most challenging jumps for a minor leaguer and he's shown improvement in every category you can measure. Strikeouts way up, walks way down, wins up, and he's doing this with clutch performances like last night's win to keep Harrisburg in playoff position.
Any chance WaPo will be doing any coverage on Harrisburg and their playoff run? It would certainly be some encouragement to a reeling fan base down the stretch.

Posted by: souldrummer | August 25, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

That post came out way more negative on Rosenbaum than it should have. Rosenbaum is probably Potomac's ace right now, and you have to give him credit for what he's done. I hope he can sustain his performance with an impressive year and get back on schedule. Already this relatively unheralded guy is making a case for having passed Holder in the system. Maybe AJ Morris too if Morris can't stay healthy or his conversion to reliever is permanent.

Posted by: souldrummer | August 25, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

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