Quick, what Red Sox farmhand lead the entire development system in strikeouts in 2010? If you said “Robert Coello”, you know your stuff. The 6’5 righthander made the meteoric rise from AA Portland through Pawtucket and finished his season with the Boston Red Sox. The 26 year old notched 130 strikeouts in 122 and a third minor league innings. Coello took part in the rookie development program this winter and that speaks volumes to his ascent through the system. Coello has the heart of a lion and his self confidence is at an all-time high. “The biggest thing is to continue to make those strides, throw everything off my fastball and to maintain a Big League mentality.”
What makes Robert Coello’s story so much more remarkable, is that he hasn’t been pitching all that long. The Florida native was originally drafted in 2004 by the Reds as a catcher. He went from behind the plate to the mound as an Angels minor leaguer in 2007. The Red Sox plucked him from the scrap heap prior to the 2009 season. Now he has the words “Major Leaguer” on his resume. Coello admits that some times that even he can’t believe what has happened in the last couple of years. “Sometimes you wake up and you have to really remember where you are. I start out in Portland and was doing my thing, getting into my routine. Then, I’m in Pawtucket and I start to do my thing here. Then, all of a sudden, I’m in Boston, or we’re in New York, or where ever you are. It’s been fun, but I’m always ready to keep it on a straight plane, and keep making more strides.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that two of Roberts’ biggest influences are two of the more beloved members of the Red Sox family. One a current star and the other, a great former star. “When I first got here, Luis Tiant was phenomenal. We talked and he has always been good to me. He is like another father to me. David Ortiz, same thing. Fantastic. All the bullpen guys, just terrific. Honestly, all the guys have been great.”
Coello looks toned and fit as the start of Spring Training approaches. He really didn’t take any time off this winter. He continued to hone his skills at Winter Ball. “I didn’t slow down. I pitched in the Dominican (Republic), Mexico. I worked on all my stuff, so when I get to Fort Myers, I’m going to be ready.”
Coello is blessed with strong family support. It’s not uncommon to see his mom, brother or even his little nephew, Vincent, Jr. at McCoy. When little Vincent is not at the game, I speak directly to him over the air. I tell him it’s time to put down the video game and pay attention. Uncle Robert is pitching. His dad says he responds, and immediately puts down the game. Ahhh, the power I wield. Coello doesn’t take his familys’ support for granted. “They are always behind me. The ups and downs. From catcher to pitcher. No job, to here with the Red Sox. It’s so good.”
When Coello (Kway-oh) arrived in Pawtucket for the first time in 2009, even his manager, Ron Johnson, didn’t know how to pronounce his name. “Cool-oh, or Cwell-oh” were just a couple the ways it was said. Another year in 2011 like the last, and everyone will be saying it correctly.