Patrick Ruotolo's Success Is Truly Freakish
During 2008, in the first of Tim Lincecum’s back-to-back Cy Young Award seasons, Sports Illustrated published a cover story on “The Freak.” It got the attention of a 13-year-old Red Sox fan in the Boston suburb of Peabody.
“I was like, ‘I like how he pitches,’ ” Patrick Ruotolo said. “He’s a little guy. I knew I wasn’t going to be tall . . .
“I used to mess around, when I was 13 and 14, doing the Tim Lincecum mechanics, and I think that’s how my arm action came.”
Listed at 5-foot-10, Ruotolo is an inch shorter than Lincecum’s listed height. The 23-year-old also weighs about 50 pounds more than Lincecum’s 170.
Each man enjoyed early success in the Giants’ organization. Lincecum, a first-round pick in 2006, reached the big leagues after less than a year in the minors.
Ruotolo, a 27th-round pick in 2016 out of Connecticut, began this season at high Class A San Jose. The reliever earned a promotion to Double-A Richmond on May 21.
Through his first 19 appearances, Ruotolo had recorded a 1.05 ERA with eight saves and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 34-to-10 in 25.2 innings.
"He gets swings and misses. He’s aggressive,” general manager Bobby Evans said. "He’s got high spin rate on his fastball; I think it’s deceptive.”
That deception derives in part from Ruotolo’s motion. It’s not nearly as "violent” (Ruotolo’s word) as Lincecum’s, but Ruotolo does resemble Lincecum in seemingly hiding the ball behind his lower right leg before he delivers.
"What everyone says is I throw the ‘invisi-ball,’ apparently,” Ruotolo joked.
Ruotolo pitches in the low-to-mid-90s, with a knuckle curveball and a changeup he was using much more frequently this season.
He estimates he threw fastballs more than 95 percent of the time during his three college seasons. After a junior year in which he had 12 saves and a 2.25 ERA, Ruotolo expected to be picked between rounds eight and 10.
Ruotolo figures surgery for a torn labrum scared off many teams, but he’s in a good spot now—though he knows that however well he does with the Giants, he almost assuredly won’t match Lincecum’s success and popularity.
"It’s tough to beat him,” Ruotolo said.
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