Danny Rosenbaum was named the Potomac Nationals' Player of the Year at the team's 17th annual Hot Stove Banquet on Sunday night at the Hyatt Fairfax at Fair Lakes.
The 24-year-old southpaw went 6-5 with a 2.59 ERA and 108 strikeouts in 19 starts at Single-A Potomac. At Double-A Harrisburg, he was even better, tallying a 3-1 mark with a 2.29 ERA in six starts with 27 strikeouts.
It was an impressive year at both stops, but Rosenbaum is not satisfied.
"I want to get in better shape than I was in last year," Rosenbaum said. "I want to go into spring training with better stamina than I did the previous year. I feel a lot stronger. I feel healthy. This is the first offseason that I focused on what I ate and that has been a world of difference for me."
Rosenbaum ramped up his workout regimen and changed his eating habits. Already, he has seen results.
"I have a lot more energy, getting up at 8 a.m. and lifting. I have lost 10 pounds. I am ready to go and I am getting the itch," he said.
Rosenbaum is back to where his weight was at the start of camp last season, 210 lbs. No, he wants to take that next step in conditioning.
Rosenbaum has "cut out a lot of sugar, like treats. I have been focusing on eating a lot more chicken and lighter foods. I am cutting out a lot of carbs and limiting myself. I am adding more protein and taking a lot of vitamins. I talked to (Potomac teammate) Trevor Holder, who is on a very good program right now, and I ran with it."
The left-hander lifted pretty much every day, concentrating on a couple of different body parts each time. Afterwards, he said, "I would do some abs and core and then focus on stretching. I did a lot of cardio, which is key to building up stamina so you can last a whole game."
"I want to push myself to the limit," Rosenbaum said. "I don't want to be satisfied with what I have. I have one goal and that is to get to the major leagues and win a World Series with the Nationals. This is how I have to do it. I have to push myself beyond what it takes."
He knows this season will be different, especially without pitchers Brad Peacock, and Tommy Milone, traded along with A.J. Cole in the offseason to Oakland for All-Star left-hander Gio Gonzalez. But with major change, Rosenbaum also sees opportunity.
"It is sad to see those guys go, those are both great guys," Rosenbaum said. "They are at the top and are going to have great careers. They just got to the big leagues. Those are guys I look up to. Tommy is a left-handed pitcher. He can throw the ball where ever he wants to. I want to be like Tommy. I want to be that guy in a go-to situation."
Competitive fire is what drives Rosenbaum in every game he plays and molds the pitcher he is today.
"I have always wanted to be the best. I always want to win, whether it is Candyland or tic-tac-toe," he said. "I hate losing. I want to be up there with those guys. I want to get that opportunity to show everybody what I can do."
Former Harrisburg Senators pitching coach Randy Tomlin recognized early on that Rosenbaum had the tools to be a major league pitcher.
"Danny is a great guy and has an extremely bright future, too. He has a good idea of his stuff. He is not overpowering, but he can be very deceptive. He has quality secondary stuff. A changeup that probably needs more development but it is a really good pitch," Tomlin said.
"He improved last year throwing the changeup. He can be another guy that as he learns truly how to pitch he could pitch better than Tom Milone did. Right now, he is working on repeating his delivery and understanding what he has to do be a big league pitcher and a consistent pitcher."
Rosenbaum agrees that his changeup is the starting point for his whole game.
"I really harped on my changeup," Rosenbaum said. "It really helped out a lot in being able to throw it in any count and mix up my pitches a lot more. When I was in Potomac, all these guys were jumping on first pitch, so I had to show something else because there was only eight teams in the (Carolina) League. They see you four or five times a year. When I got to Double-A, the changeup was just as effective. So I was comfortable enough to throw it in 3-2 counts. I'd never done that before. Now it is just refining it, continuing to throw it any count and have confidence in it."
Rosenbaum also said he has concentrated on continuing to improve his offspeed pitches, ever since his time at Xavier University.
"I have been working on my curveball and my slider (and) it is getting better," Rosenbaum reported. "I am able to throw it for more strikes now. I know in college it was a little rough throwing my curveball. Now, working with (new Harrisburg Senators pitching coach) Paul Menhart and (Nationals pitching coordinator) Spin Williams, they have really helped me with my mindset, just being comfortable and confident, knowing you are going to beat the hitter. That is my approach. That is what I got to think about."
But the bottom line in every season for Rosenbaum as a professional is to get better, and never just cruise through a campaign.
"It is like they tell us - 'someone is trying to take your job and you are trying to take someone else's. I use that for extreme motivation," Rosenbaum said. "I think about that every day. It really pushes me a lot."