Aquino proves he can pitch at Rookie level

Oftentimes when players are sent back to the Dominican Republic after spring training, they don’t make it back.

Jayson Aquino wasn’t going to let that happen to him.

The 19-year-old from San Pedro de Marcoris in the Dominican Republic, proved he deserved a chance to pitch at the next level, going 6-1 with a 1.92 ERA in nine games in the Dominican Summer League, earning a callup to the Grand Junction Rockies.

“We sent him back to the Dominican at the end of May,” Grand Junction manager Tony Diaz said, interpreting for Aquino, who speaks little English.

“His goal was to come back to the States and pitch. Sometimes when we send pitchers back to the Dominican, they don’t come back. We don’t ever see them again. His goal was to pitch well and come back. He was happy to accomplish that.”

Aquino proved Tuesday he can pitch at the Advanced Rookie level, limiting the Orem Owlz to two runs (one earned) in 5 2/3 innings in his Grand Junction debut, an 8-2 Rockies victory Thursday night. He had six strikeouts.

“(Aquino) threw a majority of fastballs,” Grand Junction pitching coach Ryan Kibler said. “His fastball percentage was up there. That was one thing I was looking for and he did that. That shows me aggression and fearlessness.

“He used his changeup and didn’t rely on his breaking ball, like he fell into a habit of in extended spring training while he was having his troubles.”

Catcher Michael Ramirez, who caught Aquino in extended spring training, might have been more happy about Aquino’s outing than Aquino himself.

“I was excited for him, because he was here in extended (spring training),” Ramirez said. “He threw very good, aggressive.

“He knew what he wanted to do. He mixed in his changeup, fastball in(side).”

Diaz and Kibler worked with Aquino for three months prior to the season in extended spring training in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Aquino, though, struggled with his delivery and was sent back to the Dominican Summer League for a third season.

“It was a little bit of a setback when he went back (to the DSL), but he wanted to prove in himself and the organization that he was ready to compete,” Aquino said through Diaz. “He was glad they agree.”

And if Thursday is any indication, the Rockies have found themselves another solid arm, and a left-hander to boot.

“Hopefully if he maintains that, it will be a delight to watch him pitch,” Diaz said.


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