Rincon's Stock On The Rise

Rincon has allowed one homer in last 91.2 innings

STATEN ISLAND, NY – Angel Rincon, signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2010, was throwing the ball wonderfully in his debut season in the States with the Gulf Coast club and even earned a late-season promotion to Staten Island. After his stellar performance last year with the DSL team, it isn't much of a surprise to see the numbers translating for him so nicely this year.

Patrick Teale contributed to this article

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound right-hander threw only twice for the DSL team in 2010 because of a shoulder injury he suffered from an accidental fall. He bounced back in 2011 by tossing 60 1/3 innings allowing 49 hits and 22 walks, while striking out 60 batters and finishing with a 2.24 ERA with the Gulf Coast League Yankees.

GCL pitching coach Jose Rosado says one pitch is the obvious key to Rincon's success.

"His fastball," Rosado said. "I would say for any pitcher it's got to be the fastball. He's able to hit both sides of the plate with the downhill plane angle, so he's doing well."

Rincon warranted a promotion to the Gulf Coast League just based on pure talent and the results he produced are even better than they were last year. In seven appearances (five starts), Rincon had a 1.59 ERA through 22 2/3 innings, giving up just eleven hits and only six walks, along with 22 strikeouts.

"I'm happy with the command of my fastball," Rincon said through a translator before moving up to Staten Island. "I've been working pretty good to be able to be consistent with that command. The change is working for me pretty good. I'm happy with it."

Rincon limited GCL hitters to a .143 batting average and didn't allowed a home run over an 86 inning span dating back to last year until serving one up in his final start of the year in Staten Island, another byproduct of staying away from the middle of the plate.

"Mechanically I feel pretty good," Rincon acknowledged. "Maybe the angle of my fastball needs to be more downhill. It gets a little bit flat at times. But that's why I'm here, so the coaches can help me improve."

A couple of extra pounds Rincon put on this offseason is aiding to the livelier fastball he's showcasing. Rosado discussed the weaponry Rincon possesses on the rubber.

"He's a fastball, changeup, slider guy. His fastball gets up to 93-94. It can be more than that but right now he's more concerned with trying to be more consistent with the command."

The two were finding other ways to get Rincon to be more effective.

"I changed a little bit with my grip, but the results have been good. My slider has been a huge part of my development. Right now, I'm doing a very good job," Rincon said.

Rosado sees the willingness from many Dominican players who want to improve their game on daily basis.

"Not only him, but all these guys, they got big ears," Rosado said. "They like to listen to coaches and that's a plus. Rincon is a smart kid. He likes to work hard. I think he's got all those skills to be able to keep pitching and go to the next level."

He tossed five shutout innings in his New York Penn League debut last week after getting called up to Staten Island.

"I feel like I did a good job but I was missing the strike zone there for a little bit," Rincon said. "Thank God I was able to turn it around and have a decent performance for my teammates.

"I had a little trouble out there but I overcame it and overall I was pleased. I wasn't nervous, I went out there and knew I had a job to do."

"He threw the ball okay," Staten Island pitching coach Carlos Chantres said after his Penn League debut. "He threw the ball up in the zone a bit for me.

"It was probably the nerves, it was his first outing up here. But all the reports I got [say] he's a plus pitcher with a very above average fastball.

"He uses his fastball a lot. I think that's his pitch right now. I think he needs some work on the secondary stuff but I think that comes with the development program we've got going on. They've done a great job with him down in the GCL and it showed [in his Penn League debut].

"He did well. He used heavy fastball command and when he threw his secondary pitches he threw them for strikes. He can pitch at this level."

Scouts like a few things about Rincon other than his control. They say he has a good feel for the spin of the ball, as well as plus potential with his pitches, notably the changeup.

If Rincon keeps dominating hitters with such ease outside of his one not so great start in his final game of the season with Staten Island [3.2 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 1 K], he could be on his way to the only place he sees fit for him.

"My goal is to reach the big leagues. I don't have any other goal, just to get there. I want to work hard to be able to stay there and help my family back home," Rincon concluded.

"Before Spring Training I was getting ready and throwing some bullpens to come out for Spring Training," he said, "and I just started having some pain when I was throwing and it got to the point where I couldn't throw through it, and I realized it was more than just light pain."

The pain originated in his neck and eventually leaked into some shoulder inflammation, and that not only prevented him from throwing at all during Spring Training but during Extended Spring Training too.

"It went towards that area but what I kind of had going on was a nervy thing in my neck where there was just some pressure on it and it was making it difficult to throw without any pain," Arneson said. "I got that taken care of and now I'm pain free."

He actually started throwing again in July and aside from some mild forearm soreness during his rehab, he's been throwing for the better part of two months, including stops with the Gulf Coast League Yankees and Charleston RiverDogs at season's end.

"I'm completely healthy again. I was at the complex rehabbing, trying to get back to, not really my true form but just back healthy. I finally accomplished that and I got two innings in the Gulf Coast League and then threw two innings in Charleston, and then I'm headed to Instructs here in a bit.

"I was extremely happy. I was pretty bummed -- coming into Spring Training and not being able to participate or play at all -- and then finally getting into that first game, whether it was Gulf Coast, Charleston, or whatever, I was happy to be pitching again."

He allowed one earned run in four combined innings between the two stops, allowing just two hits, one walk, and striking out four batters.

"I actually mixed in all of my pitches," he said. "My main focus [during those innings] was just being able to do it and after I throw know that I'm healthy and feeling good.

"I wasn't too concerned with results, more just being healthy and getting that taste for getting stronger through Instructional League and for next year.

"I did work on all of my pitches and I'm pretty happy actually with how my slider and fastball look. I'll look to progress on the changeup as time comes."

He has yet to rediscover the 97 mph fastball he once topped out at but even though it has been just a few innings so far, he can already feel the power starting to come back.

"I don't think I'm there yet," he admitted. "I think I got it back up to 95 mph with the velocity but I don't think I'm quite there [where I was before the injury] with my strength yet.

"But with this Instructional League and a good offseason, I'm sure I'll be back to my true form and maybe even better come 2013. I'm looking forward to that."

One of his main goals entering the season before being injured was improving his fastball command so it got a little frustrating for him once that took a back seat to getting healthy again.

"It really was because I had some goals set for this season that I wanted to accomplish and I wasn't able to do that being hurt.

"I look at the bright side though that I'm healthy, I didn't have any type of surgery, and then with my bullpens, even though I was just coming back and focusing on being healthy and just being able to throw, I tried to work on getting that fastball command better.

"I feel like every time I've progressed. The main thing obviously is health but that's one thing I'll continue to work hard towards for next year. I'll work on that during Instructional League."

Eager to continue his work during Instructs in a couple of weeks, Arneson is looking forward to continuing to build up his arm strength, improve his fastball command, and more importantly just gain some invaluable experience he lost this season.

"Instructs will just be getting more live action against actual hitters and just keep working on what I've worked on as far as mechanically; finishing out front with my pitches, really all the things that I wanted to work on this year, those are the things that I'll work on at Instructional League. Just throwing strikes and staying healthy, that's the big thing."

Essentially missing an entire season despite not having a surgery of any kind has its own set of frustrations, Arneson chooses to look at the positives of what many would call a lost season.

"It would be really easy to look at it that way and there was a period where I actually looked down on myself, but then I realized I'd really like to turn this into a positive and just work harder and get better for next year. Thankfully I didn't have any type of surgery or anything.

"So really, all that I lost was the more experience, getting out on the mound and into the games. I'll have a little catching up to do but I have no doubt in my skills or any doubt on coming back and doing this, and get on pace for where I want to be," he concluded.

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