Next month, the New York Yankees will be showcasing 12 of their top young prospects in their first Captain's Camp.
The camp, an idea from the Yankees' new head coordinator of the minor league program, Gil Patterson, includes a local East Texas favorite — Nicholas Bruno Rumbelow of Bullard.
The rocket-firing righty reliever, a Yankees draft choice in 2013, has been clocked recently in the 97-98 mph range. Rumbelow, who goes by Nick, just completed his first full year of professional baseball in 2014.
After that first full season, the LSU graduate went on an impressive four-team tour last year, climbing the Yankees' minor league ladder. That jump in the minor leagues earned him an invite to the Captain's Camp, a showcase for Yankee up-and-comers.
A few weeks ago, Rumbelow got the call from the Yankees front office to report to camp early to be a part of the inaugural event for the team's top prospects. The crafty flame-thrower reports to Tampa, Florida, the Yankees spring training site, for the camp beginning Feb. 19.
Rumbelow and the other invitees will be viewed by the MLB staff, along with Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
"It's a new thing the organization is doing and they will bring roughly about 12 of their top prospects," said Rumbelow, a former three-sport star in high school at Bullard. "We will be training and working out together and let the staff get a good look."
The New York Yankees drafted the East Texan in 2013 and he made an immediate impression in Class A short season in Staten Island, New York. He had 20 strikeouts in 23 innings, posting a 2.35 ERA.
Last year's climb started at the Class A full season in Charleston, South Carolina, playing for the RiverDogs. Success there prompted an immediate move to the Class A advanced team, the Tampa Yankees. Posting a 5-1 record there, he then was promoted to the AA Trenton (New Jersey) Thunder before winding up at AAA with the Scranton/Barre-Wilkes RailRiders in Pennsylvania.
Last year in his four-team stint his combined stats included a 5-2 record and a 2.62 ERA in 44 games. He had a total of 58.1 innings pitched with 81 strikeouts (101 in minors; 20 Ks 2013 short season).
The Yankees training site, the George Steinbrenner Baseball Complex, is a far cry from Panther Field in Bullard, where Rumbelow threw three perfect games in his high school days, drawing the attention of numerous top NCAA Division I baseball programs. The former three-time all-stater, All-East Texas performer and three-sport star committed to LSU.
Always known for his hard work and dedication to baseball, Rumbelow has transferred that into becoming a full-time professional with his continued off-season workouts.
Keeping up the workout regiment, Rumbelow has been putting in his workouts at APEC with trainer Bobby Stroupe. APEC, known for sport-specific training and athletic enhancement, has been a workout spot for Rumbelow for six years.
"You go into the offseason with a lot of goals," said the 6-0, 190-pound Rumbelow about his focus point in training. "I think that what we did last year worked pretty well for me so that's kinda my thing, the same basis that we stayed on and pattern.
"And obviously when we are working, we kind of have a man-to-man talk and kinda fine-tune and I count on him to point me in the right direction. … He does a great job of it, pointing me in the same direction, things that are going to enhance my future."
Stroupe has worked with and groomed numerous top professional and college athletes over the years. He says Rumbelow has put in the work.
"Nick is a pro in every sense of the word," said Stroupe, now in his eighth year of originating the training programs for APEC. "He does the work every day and with the same intensity. The last two years he has missed zero days in the offseason program and he stays in tune with what to do during the season as well.
"To see him grow and work the last two years in our MLB program has been awesome. He has earned the respect of his organization because his increased velocity, pitch selection and professional approach are top flight."
Rumbelow feels like he is ready, just as he was last season.
"I have been working hard, I feel great, but it's also got its drawbacks like missing the family, my girlfriend and friends to leave for work for nine months," Rumbelow said after a recent morning workout. "But I'm blessed to have the opportunity to even be where I am and I know all of those same people will be supporting me and I will do what I have control of."
Stroupe's final comment also spoke for how many other East Texas baseball fans feel, keeping it simple but right on track saying.
"We (family, friends, and APEC) are lucky to be associated with Nick," Stroupe said. "He is a class act in every aspect and his future will be really bright."