After logging 56.2 innings in the Dominican Summer League as a 17-year-old, Wilfredo Boscan made his 2008 North American professional debut in the college-heavy environment of the Northwest League. At short-season Spokane, along with fellow teenagers Martin Perez, Carlos Pimentel, and Neil Ramirez, Boscan joined one of the youngest and most talented starting rotations in professional baseball.
Known for his control, Boscan continued where he left off in the DSL by allowing just 11 walks in over 69 innings of work. On top of his stellar control, Boscan limited the much older competition to only 66 hits while striking out an impressive 9.09 batters per nine innings. That's a strikeouts-to-walks ratio of over 6-to-1. That’s incredible.
I recently had a chance to sit down with the 6' 2" right-hander during this year's Fall Instructional League, and I only wish I could properly describe how impressed I was with Boscan. Not only does he represent the Texas Rangers as a pitcher, he proudly represents Venezuelans everywhere as a person of depth and integrity.
Q: Take me through this past year. How did you physically prepare for the season?
Boscan: Last year when I came to the [fall] instructional league, they told me that I needed to work hard to be successful. Man, then they worked me hard. Really hard. It was like American football. I even worked out in the gym to maintain all of my progress.
I came home and I rested, like you have seen me do here [Wilfredo was lounging around the motel lobby on his off-day], but then I would go to practice and train. I lived for training. First I went to the Dominican Republic in January and then left for training here in March.
Q: Did all of that training have a positive impact on your pitching in Spokane?
Boscan: Oh, yes. It went pretty well for me, and all my running and all my conditioning prepared me to play. After all of that, I was spread very thin, but I threw well. All that hard work definitely prepared me to pitch. Well, the opportunity to pitch in Spokane also really helped me out. I was really excited about it and I wanted to do well. After my year in Spokane, I said, "Thank goodness!" I knew that I could do it. I knew that if I worked hard and demonstrated my ability that I would get the chance to pitch.
Q: What did you like most about pitching in Spokane?
Boscan: My teammates. They were the best. I really liked pitching on that team. The entire team was fun to be around.
Q: What pitches do you throw? Can you show me the grips?
Boscan: Of course. I throw a fastball, a curveball, and a change-up.
Q: How does it feel to get an invite to fall instructionals?
Boscan: Well, I feel really good about it. I feel honored. I was invited to come here to instructs so that I can work on what I need to work on and improve. That is what I have been doing.
Q: Has your routine changed at all now that you are considered a legit pitching prospect? Do the coaches expect more from you?
Boscan: I think I have the same routine I always did. I work and work and work and work and work and work. I always give 100 percent. I am always prepared. I never stop. My first year, I had a lot of pressure on me, especially in that first game. There was a lot of pressure to play well. I didn’t want to let anybody down. But moving through it got me ready. I realized that in that first game and the pressure left. Now it’s much easier. I know I belong now.
Q: How are you adjusting to life in the United States?
Boscan: My first year was nice because I learned some English from my teammates. Everyone would try and teach me little things here and there. I hope in the coming year I will learn more. I like learning English. I like being able to speak to my teammates. Learning English is very important if you are going to be here. It’s important to me to understand what a great opportunity it is to be in this country. I don’t take this for granted.
Q: What are you hoping to improve on in the upcoming year?
Boscan: My in-game concentration. You have to focus to be successful.
Q: Which Major League pitcher do you admire the most? Is fellow Venezuelan Johan Santana someone that you look up to?
Boscan: Yes, yes, yes. Santana is the best pitcher in baseball. I am very proud of what he has accomplished in baseball. I look up to him very much.
Q: Finally Wilfredo, can you share with me some of your thoughts on Coach Don [Director of Operations Don Welke]? I know that he has played a key role in your professional life.
Boscan: Oh, man, Don is a really good person. He is an excellent person. He means a lot to me. He makes me smile.
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Gracias, mi amigo Wilfredo, y espero que tengas salud y suerte en el año que viene.