Simon Rosenblum-Larson made a quick name for himself in his first year of professional baseball. Larson was drafted in the 19th round of the 2018 MLB draft out of Harvard. After speaking with Simon, it is no surprise to see why he is having the early success he is having. He studies the game and places an emphasis on making minor adjustments as a season progresses. I hope he continues to develop and master his craft because he is putting in the work that will allow him to climb the ranks in the Rays organization. Here is a glance at some numbers he put up this past season with Hudson Valley (Class A-Short Season) and Bowling Green (Class A-Full Season). 1.16 ERA, 38.2 IP, 62 K’s, and a 0.72 WHIP.
What made you choose Harvard? What were some of your other options?
Harvard gave me the best opportunity to play highly competitive baseball along with providing me with a great education. I also learned to handle success but more importantly Harvard also taught me how to handle failure. I felt it was also the best school that would prepare me for life after my baseball career was over. Some other choices I had were from schools such as Tulane, Indiana, and some other bigger D1 schools. At the end of the day, I was comfortable choosing Harvard.
Your numbers improved each season in college. How did you develop your game while you were in college?
When I was in high school I was a high three quarter arm slot pitcher. When I got to college, I changed my arm slot to a lower three quarter delivery. There was never a lack of confidence in my ability but I still needed to learn how to get hitters out. I focused on becoming quicker, lower, and more explosive with my delivery. I also placed an emphasis on becoming more consistent with my mechanics. My improved mechanics helped with having more success late in counts. After my sophomore season I went and played in the Northwoods league where I developed the consistency I was looking for. I felt the Northwoods league played a huge part in my development becoming a more consistent pitcher.
What are some differences you have noticed going from the college game to pro ball (short season and full season)?
Every batter does a much better job at making adjustments in pro ball. Therefore, I have had to adjust with the batters. The two main things I have had to improve upon quickly at the pro level is command of my off-speed pitches within the zone and learning how to pitch outside of the strike zone to get some more batters chasing pitches.
What does your preparation look like on a gameday and on an off day?
There really is not much of a difference between an off day and a game day in terms of preparation. I try to stay consistent with my routine whether we have a game or not. I go through my pitching routine to keep mechanics in line along with doing my weighted ball work. I will go out there with position players and shag balls during batting practice. Going from a starting pitcher to a relief pitcher I have had to develop my mental preparation as well. So, to help with that I have found time to meditate to help me prepare for any given situation I might face. I understand that I have to be ready to come in to a game in just about any situation the game might be present in the given moment.
What is the next piece you feel is important to add to your game?
As I mentioned earlier, I am always working to improve my command and consistency of all my pitches. When you look back on a player’s career such as Mike Trout, he has been great at making minor adjustments and knowing what minor adjustments he needs to make. I have tried to mimic that same approach. For me personally, I think commanding the high fastball is probably the next piece of my game that I want to develop in hopes it becomes a strength of mine.
Are there any batters from your high school or college playing days that you struggled against but have also helped in your development as a professional?
There are 3 that come to mind. In high school Ben Rortvedt would always give me fits. He is now in the Twins organization as a catcher. (Fort Myers Miracle, Class A Advanced) From college there was Randall Kanemaru (Columbia) and Dustin Shirley (Dartmouth) who always seemed to have my number. I enjoyed facing them regardless because they always were a challenge to me.
Is there a current MLB pitcher you watch closely?
Chris Sale for sure. I watch him because he is a high K rate guy from a low arm slot and I love to watch his pitch sequencing.
Playstation 4 or Xbox One kind of guy?
What is your music of choice? Rap, country, rock?
I listen to pretty much anything. I enjoy rap and rock. Country has grown on me over the years as well.
Favorite sports team and player is?
I am a huge Green Bay Packers fan since I am from Wisconsin. As for my favorite player I will say Mike Trout and Lebron James. Those are 2 players who have been fascinating to watch how they develop from season to season. I think Lebron James sets a perfect example of being a great role model. He does all the right things and he is constantly giving back to others in need. He is definitely a class act.
Did you play other sports while you were in high school? What are some hobbies you enjoy to get away from baseball and recharge your battery?
I played basketball until I was in the 10th grade. 3 things I love to do outside of baseball are reading, hiking and fishing. Being outdoors keeps me active which is why I enjoy those activities.
I'm Aaron Schuck, covering all things about the Tampa Bay Rays minor league system. I currently live in Monticello, GA where I teach high school and coach basketball. Even though I coach basketball, please do not let that fool you that I'm only a basketball guy. My love for baseball is very strong. I will watch or attend a baseball game over a basketball game any day of the week. My goal is to provide our readers with interesting and informative information that involves everything in the Rays minor league system. Give me a follow on Twitter @bbbaseball101 and don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, comments or ideas on the Rays.