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."
August 24, 2010; 2:45 PM ET
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