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Dodgers' growing super scout Ron Rizzi: One year after discovering Ronald Belisario, he comes up with Carlos Monasterios

April 3, 2010 |  7:06 pm
And now let’s give it up for Ron Rizzi.

Louder now, like you mean it. All he’s done is possibly pull an impressive rookie pitcher out of his Winter League hat for the second year in a row.

Rizzi is the Dodgers scout who discovered Venezuelan Ronald Belisario last year and signed him as a free agent. Then the rookie went 4-3 with a 2.04 ERA in 65 games.

Of course, Belisario then had a little visa issue this year that had him showing up to camp as the rest of the team was packing to head back to L.A., but Rizzi doesn’t hold their hands, he just signs them.

And now he’s come up with another potential gem in Carlos Monasterios, one more right-hander he discovered in the Venezuelan Winter League and then persuaded the Dodgers to select as a Rule 5 draftee.

Convinced them enough that they swapped picks with the Mets to take him, and now it appears to have paid off. At least in the short term.

Against the odds, Monasterios has made the Dodgers’ opening roster. A 24-year-old who essentially has never pitched above Single-A will open the season Monday in Pittsburgh as a right-handed reliever.

Yesterday a baseball nobody, today a major leaguer.

"I like his variety of pitches, his fastball and changeup," said manager Joe Torre. "He's had an easy time lately. We'll take a look. We’ll see."

Monasterios has a 1.69 ERA in nine games this spring (16 innings), having allowed nine hits and seven walks.

Now double-check that visa.

The Dodgers figure to break him in slowly. If the highest level you’ve ever pitched is in a couple of Double-A games, making the major leagues is one phenomenal jump. As a Rule 5 pick from the Phillies, they must keep him on the 25-man all season or send him back to Philadelphia.

"I'll start out using him like I used (Ramon) Troncoso last year," Torre said. "We didn’t know exactly what to expect with the spring he had, but he gradually worked his way into a prominent role for us."

At some point Belisario will be ready to rejoin the Dodgers. He remains in Arizona. Torre said he is just throwing in the bullpen and has yet to appear in a camp game.

But  also know this about Rizzi: He’s the scout who found left-hander Victor Garate, whom the Dodgers used to trade for infielder Ronnie Belliard. Rizzi was also the lead scout on Belliard and left-hander George Sherrill last year.

  -- After the 6-4 loss to the Angels, the Dodgers sent down outfielder Xavier Paul (who homered Saturday), catcher A.J. Ellis and infielder Chin-lung Hu.

They have yet to announce whether they will start the season with 12 or 11 pitchers, leaving the final roster spot as a choice between utility player Nick Green and right-hander Russ Ortiz. With an off-day in each of the first three weeks of the season, the Dodgers could easily start the season with 11 pitchers.

-- Steve Dilbeck