The D-backs announced Tuesday evening that they’ve re-signed right-hander Rubby De La Rosa to a two-year, minor league contract. He’d been released by the Diamondbacks back in September after undergoing a second career Tommy John surgery in August. He’s been assigned to Double-A Jackson and will spend 2018 rehabbing with the hope of returning to a big league mound in 2019.
De La Rosa, 29 next March, battled UCL issues in 2016 but elected to undergo stem cell therapy rather than a second Tommy John procedure. The stem cell treatment looked to have done the trick at one point this past season, as De La Rosa turned in excellent numbers across three minor league levels (mostly Triple-A) before returning to the Diamondbacks in late June. Unfortunately, he’d toss just 7 2/3 innings before going back on the shelf and ultimately going under the knife once again.
A former top prospect, De La Rosa has yet to establish himself as a regular rotation member in the big leagues, but many have wondered how he’d fare as a full-time reliever over the course of his big league career. In this past season’s brief sample, he averaged a hearty 97.1 mph on his fastball, lending credence to the notion that he could function as a power arm out of the ’pen if he ditched his changeup and went with a pure fastball/slider combination. De La Rosa has long fared better against right-handed opponents and could become overpowering against them if his stuff plays up in a short-relief role.
The D-backs won’t be able to gauge that anytime in the near future, of course, but De La Rosa will be a name to keep an eye on when his elbow is (hopefully) healed up for the 2019 season — his age-30 campaign.