Lower Arm Slot Raises LaFromboise's Stock For Mariners





SEATTLE—It's clear that lefthander Bobby LaFromboise no longer throws like he did in high school.

For one thing, he pitched as a sophomore before finishing his prep career as a first baseman. For another, he now pitches in relief after working as a starter at New Mexico and during his first three seasons with the Mariners, after being selected in the eighth round of the 2008 draft.

The change happened when he went from a relatively high arm slot to a low three-quarters delivery. Just like that, he became a master of deception pitching out of the bullpen. In his two years pitching in relief, he has posted a 9-6, 2.19 record, including a 2012 season split between Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma in which he went 6-2, 1.36.

"When you watch him, it's low three-quarters and he starts out behind the hitter when he's facing a lefty," farm director Chris Gwynn said. "He's made that change to lower his arm angle and that gives him a lot of deception."

The 6-foot-4, 190-pound LaFromboise was a dynamo coming out of the bullpen at Jackson, posting a 1.01 ERA in 20 games for the Generals with a win and two saves. Called up to Tacoma in late June, he had some struggles but was still good: a 1.59 ERA in 27 games, going 5-2 with four saves.

"We know from his arm angle it's going to be tough for lefthanders to hit him," Gwynn said. "When he gets to the point where he's regularly getting righthanders out, he's going to open some eyes."

He has already done that. The Mariners put him on the 40-man roster, which means he'll come to spring training with a chance to make the big league bullpen. It won't be easy, as the Mariners will enter next season with three lefties who pitched well in 2012: Charlie Furbush, Oliver Perez and Lucas Luetge. Still, the 26-year-old finally will have a chance to make the big leagues, and that's a major step forward.

Marinade

• The Mariners designated lefthander Mauricio Robles for assignment in order to make room on the roster for outfielder Jason Bay. Robles had a 5.78 ERA at Triple-A last season but has pitched well in the Venezuelan League.

• The Mariners passed on the big league portion of the Rule 5 draft before selecting second baseman Eric Farris from the Brewers in the Triple-A phase. The 26-year-old hit .286/.329/.377 with seven homers at Triple-A Nashville in 2012.