De La Rosa clears mind, sinks Threshers

Tigers prospect rebounds, yields one hit over eight shutout innings

Edgar De La Rosa lowered his ERA from 3.75 to 2.25 on Saturday night in Clearwater. (Mark LoMoglio/

By Kelsie Heneghan / | April 19, 2014 11:34 PM ET

Ninety percent of the game is mental and the other half is physical.

Yogi Berra's math may have confused some, but the quote attributed to him rings true for many baseball players, especially for Edgar De La Rosa.

The Tigers prospect shook off a rough outing earlier in the week and allowed one hit over eight scoreless frames Saturday before Class A Advanced Lakeland posted a 4-2, 11-inning triumph at Clearwater.

"He had good stuff [and] used all his pitches," Flying Tigers pitching coach Mike Maroth said. "With all the lefties in the lineup, he used his changeup a lot. Did a good job mixing in his changeup with his fastball and kept hitters off-balance."

The 23-year-old right-hander gave up only a two-out double to Willie Carmona in the second, walked four batters and struck out three in matching the longest outing of his career. He also went eight innings for Class A West Michigan last May 27 and in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League on Aug. 27, 2011.

On the flipside, De La Rosa lasted only three innings Monday against Brevard County, yielding four runs -- three earned -- on three hits and four walks. Over the next four days, Maroth and his pitcher worked on how to improve his mental approach to the mound.

"He didn't have his best stuff last time out and it was clear and I told him to forget about it," Maroth said. "I think as the game went along [Saturday], he gained more confidence and his stuff continued to be strong."

This season, Maroth and De La Rosa have focused on improving the 6-foot-6 hurler's command of his changeup and fastball, trying to keep both pitches down in the strike zone.

After posting a 5.61 ERA -- his highest mark since Rookie ball -- in 25 Midwest League outings (22 starts) last season, a pitchers' circuit like the Florida State League was exactly what De La Rosa needed to mature on the mound.

"There's such a mental side for anyone in the game, but especially pitchers," said Maroth, who pitched in the Major Leagues from 2002-07. "It allows him to gain more confidence as a pitcher; just from a mental perspective, see his pitches work for him."

The native of the Dominican Republic native was anxious to return to the mound in the eighth and pitched a perfect inning. But as his pitch count neared 100, it turned out to be his final frame.

Guido Knudson came on for the ninth, but four hits and a wild pitch later, the Threshers forced extra innings.

In the 11th, the Flying Tigers strung together four hits of their own and capitalized on an error by center fielder Aaron Altherr -- the Phillies' No. 5 prospect -- to reclaim the lead. The inning was capped by Drew Longley's RBI single.

Southpaw Josh Turley (1-0) picked up the win after striking out four over two hitless innings.

Threshers starter Ethan Stewart gave up two runs -- one earned -- on five hits over seven innings and Daniel Child followed with three scoreless frames. Chris Burgess (0-1) was charged with two runs on four hits in the 11th.

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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