Andre Rienzo Makes His Pitch For Chicago

by Brazil Club - Let The Music Take You There on 10/25/2012 - 10:58 am


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Last May, Yan Gomes suited up for the Toronto Blue Jays to become the first-ever Major League Baseball player from Brazil. Now the start of the 2013 season finds São Paulo’s Andre Rienzo making his own pitch for stardom with the Chicago White Sox.

 

PEORIA, Ariz. —— Andre Rienzo hopes to put Brazil on the baseball map as he pursues his own path toward making the White Sox's roster.

Despite allowing his first two runs in Arizona Fall League play Wednesday, Rienzo continued to impress the more than two dozen scouts who watched his performance for the Salt River Rafters. Rienzo's fastball was clocked as high as 95 mph by one National League scout, and his repertoire of pitches is one reason he appears destined for the Sox's 40-man roster next month with a realistic shot at making the 25-man roster no later than 2014.

"It's important to do my best so people can see I can do it," the 6-foot-3, 160-pound right-hander said after getting nicked for two runs on four hits and five walks in 42/3 innings in Peoria. "The dream in the minors is up. The major leagues, I'll try my best to be there."

Rienzo looks forward to the chance to represent his country in the World Baseball Classic. He said he has accepted an invitation to pitch for Brazil in a WBC qualifier in Panama City, Panama, starting Nov. 15. "If Brazil qualifies, maybe baseball in Brazil can change a little bit (for the better)," said Rienzo, who hopes to join the Blue Jays' Yan Gomes as the second Brazilian-born player in the majors. "Baseball in Brazil has kind of died."

Rienzo said he has followed the path of two older brothers who played baseball, in addition to his mother, a former softball player. "In Brazil, you play on Saturday and Sunday, and all my family went out to the fields to play," Rienzo said. "I started to practice and kept going, and now I'm here."

Rienzo hasn't lost the foot skills he learned in his soccer-saturated country, according to Sox first base prospect Andy Wilkins. "He's unbelievable if you ever see him with the things he does with his feet," said Wilkins, who played with Rienzo for part of 2012 at Double-A Birmingham.

Rienzo's delivery is somewhat similar to that of former National League Cy Young Award winner Orel Hershiser. And he has a sharp slider and changeup to complement his fastball. He's also quick to compliment his infield teammates for nice defensive plays. Rienzo displayed his athleticism in the fifth when he charged off the mound quickly as Peoria center fielder Billy Hamilton, who led organized baseball with 130 stolen bases in the Reds organization, fouled a bunt attempt.

As fast as Rienzo made the jump from Class-A Winston-Salem to Triple-A Charlotte (compiling a combined 7-3 record and 2.53 ERA with 113 strikeouts in 1031/3 innings at three levels), he had to overcome the roadblock of a 50-game suspension through May and early June for testing positive for metabolites of Stanozolol, a banned substance. |more|

 

Opening Day Update:

 

In February, Andre Rienzo took on the opportunity for pitching in exhibition play before leaving for Japan to play in the World Baseball Classic for Team Brazil.

"I think (the WBC) is a good opportunity too,"said Rienzo, who will pitch in relief Monday against San Francisco in Scottsdale before leaving for Japan. "We play Japan and Cuba, Japan, the two-time champion, to me is the best team right now because they’re the champion. It’s a great opportunity for me to be there and throw. I think I’ll pitch in Japan and I’m glad to have the opportunity.

Rienzo, 24, admitted he was in awe in his first major league camp.

"You kind of don’t believe it," Rienzo said. "You see the guys on TV and now I see the guys’ lockers right there. It’s crazy to be here. I tried to enjoy it a lot. I hope to impress somebody."

He’s a competitor for sure. Some observers think that ff he can harness his emotions and keep the walks down, he could be a solid back end starter.

"He looked good, compared to last outing," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Rienzo. "Time-wise, he's catching back up. He's been moving all over the place. He's back from Japan. It's nice just to end up in a game and doing pretty good for us."

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