Bautista Showing Promise

Bautista struck out six batters on Monday

TAMPA, FL - Towering left-hander Rony Bautista is making his U.S. debut in 2012 with the GCL Yankees. Bautista, a 20-year old Dominican native, was signed as an International free agent in 2009 and is now emerging as a asset with outstanding potential as a New York Yankee pitching prospect.

Bautista started his professional career by playing in the Dominican Summer League in 2010 and 2011. He had a slow start in his short 2010 opening season after signing, appearing in just four games with seven innings of work, a 11.57 ERA and first-year control problems contributing to 13 walks.

In 2011, Bautista made good progress and although posting a 1-9 record, improved his ERA to 4.53 and gained the ability and game experience to have better strike zone command of his pitches, issuing 29 walks in 57.2 innings worked while averaging a strikeout per inning, 57 for the year.

Following the 2011 season, Bautista was driven to use the offseason to improve his physical stamina and get ready for the next level of competition with the GCL Yankees, and he is proving that his plan is working well.

"I worked really hard this offseason to prepare and get in great shape to perform well," Bautista said through the help of a translator, "really show off my stuff this year. I spent a lot of time conditioning to lose a little bit of extra weight as well as lifting and special throwing exercises to increase arm strength."

A towering and intimidating presence on the mound at 6-foot-7 and 200 pounds, the lefthander is off to an excellent start. In 23.1 innings of work to date in the Gulf Coast League he has produced a 2.70 ERA, 30 strikeouts and only eight walks, becoming a much improved and consistent strike-thrower.

With his ability to get the ball in on lefthanders, long wingspan and delivery, Bautista has been especially taught on left-handed hitters, delivering a outstanding opponents batting average of .143.

Bautista credits hard work as the number one reason for his success this year and GCL pitching coach Jose Rosado agrees.

"Rony is much leaner, stronger and more focused," Rosado said. "He has grown mentally and is better prepared now and comes ready to work.

"We are working specifically on his changeup, a very important pitch that he need to improve on to be able to continue his progress as well as excel at the next level. He has great potential and if he keeps doing what he's doing, good things will happen."

In between starts Bautista has put a lot of time and energy into making his changeup more effective and becoming more comfortable with the pitch to be able to throw it with confidence in any count or situation.

As of right now, his most consistent pitch has been his curveball, which he has had a lot of success with and is especially difficult to handle for left-handed hitters.

"I believe I have been doing pretty good. I am giving it my all and working hard day in and day out, practicing hard, playing hard, just doing what I can do to the best of my ability," Bautista concluded.

Recognizing that this is essentially only Bautista's second year of professional baseball, his continued hard work and progress look very promising.

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