I was browsing through the minor league pitching leaderboards on Fangraphs this morning and I noticed that a name kept appearing at the top of almost all of the leaderboards among qualified pitchers (pitchers who would qualify for the ERA title in leagues where they have pitched). This pitcher was in the Phillies’ system and had just started to appear on my radar. Here is where they rank in the minor leagues:
- ERA: 0.78 (2nd)
- FIP: 1.51 (1st) – 2nd is Williamsport’s Kyle Young
- K%: 36.4% (1st)
- K-BB%: 29.3% (2nd)
If you are confused, I don’t blame you. The pitcher is right handed starter Ramon Rosso. I have to give a hat tip to the Phuture Phillies comment section that first mentioned him while scouting box scores, because, the truth is this is all a bit of a ruse. Ramon Rosso is 21 years old, and he has pitched 9 of his 11 games in the Dominican Summer League. That means most of his performance has come against literal children, and that we only have had two chances for anyone stateside to get a look at him. His full line on the year so far:
11 G – 10 GS – 57.2 IP – 39 H – 5 ER – 0.78 ERA – 16 BB – 82 K
Now this kind of performance is not unprecedented in the Phillies’ system. In 2014, Ranger Suarez and Jose Taveras went head to head for the best season in the Phillies system:
Ranger Suarez, age 18, VSL: 14 G – 14 GS – 80.2 IP – 67 H – 14 ER – 1.56 ERA – 1 BB – 78 K
Jose Taveras, age 20, DSL: 15 G – 13 GS – 85.1 IP – 61 H – 10 ER – 1.05 ERA – 8 BB – 70 K
Suarez was still age appropriate for the VSL, but he was also in his third season in the Phillies system. Taveras, like Rosso, signed late and was old for the DSL, but he was in just in his first year of professional baseball. Suarez at the time was throwing in the mid 80s, now at nearly 22 years old he is touching up 95 and has established himself as a solid pitching prospect in the Phillies system. Taveras has not seen a huge velocity gain, but he has continued to keep hitters off balance and is currently in the AAA rotation after essentially skipping AA.
Rosso was originally signed by the Dodgers on July 2, 2015 for $62,000. He has been pitching for CB Barcelona in Spain at the time (Rosso was born in the Dominican Republic). He was released by the Dodgers in July of 2016, and then he signed with the Phillies on June 2nd of this year. After starting 9 games in the DSL he was promoted to the GCL on July 27, and will make his Williamsport debut on Sunday. Much like his dominance is not unprecedented his pathway isn’t either. In 2014, RHP Edubray Ramos started the season in the VSL, he was then promoted to the GCL, and then once more again to Williamsport to end the season.
But, is Rosso a prospect or a suspect?
Honestly, it is hard to know. He has a starter’s frame at 6’4″ 215lbs. I reached out to prospect evaluator and former Minor Thoughts contributor Chris King about Rosso’s first stateside appearance. He had 90-92 touching 93 with his fastball, with the velocity dropping a bit after a few innings. Jim Peyton of Phuture Phillies had him touching 94 and 95. Rosso also throws a breaking ball (there is some debate as to what to classify it as). He was able to pound the strikezone and showed advanced command for the complex league level. This obviously only one game, and we won’t get more reports until after he pitches some for Williamsport, but this is a fine place to start. He is obviously dominant because he is too advanced for the level he is pitching at, but at the same time that is legitimate stuff for a back end starter profile. It isn’t an uncommon profile though for the low minors, which indicates how many pitfalls stand in his way. Unless he shows a lot more in Williamsport then we have reports on, then he is highly unlikely to make my offseason Top 50 prospect list. However, he is well worth keeping an eye on going forward.