DENVER -- Felician University is a small, Division II college with a campus in Rutherford, N.J. Most people are unaware of its existence, but it was the only school to offer left-handed relief pitcher Jerry Vasto a scholarship. In Round 24 of the 2014 MLB Draft, the Rockies selected Vasto.And
DENVER -- Felician University is a small, Division II college with a campus in Rutherford, N.J. Most people are unaware of its existence, but it was the only school to offer left-handed relief pitcher Jerry Vasto a scholarship. In Round 24 of the 2014 MLB Draft, the Rockies selected Vasto.
And on Sunday, Vasto was called up to the Majors for the first time in a bullpen role with the Rockies. He appeared out of relief in Sunday's 8-3 loss to the D-backs, working 2/3 of an inning, while allowing three earned runs. Despite the rough start to his career, he managed to record his first career strikeout.
"It was crazy," Vasto said before Sunday's game against the D-backs. "I wasn't expecting it at all. Called my parents, put them on speakerphone so my coaches could hear them, and it was a moment I'll never forget."
Vasto is 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA, to go along with 26 strikeouts in 21 innings at Triple-A Albuquerque. The pitch that has been key for him has been his slider.
"The slider, when thrown properly, is a legit big league slider," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "It's just a matter of him becoming consistent with throwing strikes. And this Triple-A season, especially lately, that's been happening."
Vasto replaces right-handed pitcher Scott Oberg, who was put on the 10-day disabled list with a back strain. Oberg last pitched Thursday in Cincinnati, then was injured in the weight room.
For Vasto, getting the call that he was coming to Denver was unforgettable. He flew in on Sunday and took a car to Coors Field, where left-handed pitcher Zachary Rosscup, who is on the 60-day disabled list with a wart on his left middle finger, was his guide.
"[I have to stick] with the routine that I was doing down there," Vasto said. "It's still baseball up here, just the best players in the world. So, I have to attack hitters."
Vasto grew up in Atlantic Highland, N.J., a town of 4,485 people. His father, Jerry, is the chief of police in the town. Vasto didn't play much travel ball during his high school summers because he had to work -- delivering pizzas, pushing carts, and as a camp counselor, before Felician signed him.
Still having to work in the summers during college, Vasto didn't play any summer ball, except for half of the summer his last year.
"It didn't feel like I was missing out," Vasto said. "I still worked out, threw when I could. If anything, it probably saved me a little bit. That's a lot of innings those guys are throwing."
The Rockies designated right-handed pitcher Jairo Diaz for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot for Vasto. Diaz pitched in 21 games for the Rockies in 2015 (0-1 with a 2.37 ERA), underwent Tommy John surgery before 2016 and appeared in four Major League games (0-0, 9.00) last year.
When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.
Gonzalez feeling better
Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez missed Saturday's game, and was not in the starting lineup on Sunday with rib problems, which were originally announced as back spasms.
Gonzalez felt a twinge in the left rib area in his last at-bat on Friday. He finished the game without saying anything and got treatment after the game.
"I had a really bad night trying to sleep because I couldn't breathe well," Gonzalez said. "I saw the chiropractor and they adjusted me, and I feel much better."
Pitching injury updates
Rosscup will leave on Monday for his rehab assignment with Triple-A Albuquerque. He has yet to appear in a game this season for Colorado.
Right-handed pitcher Adam Ottavino reported feeling good Sunday morning after throwing his 20-pitch bullpen session with intensity on Saturday.
Pounders meant no harm
Right-handed reliever Brooks Pounders hit D-backs star Paul Goldschmidt on the hip in the ninth inning on Saturday night, which prompted yelling from the Arizona dugout. Pounders says it was unintentional.
Goldschmidt crushed a home run off of Pounders' slider on Friday night, so Pounders said he tried a fastball on Saturday -- but it slipped.
Pounders said he got Goldschmidt's number from Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta and texted him to apologize.
"The guy goes about his business the right way and he's a professional on and off the field," Pounders said. "There might be some repercussions from it, I don't know … I don't have enough time [in the Majors] to be drilling people on purpose."
Anne Rogers is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver.