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Standout on a comeback trail

Dylan Sons is on a mission, to regain the form that made him a 15th round draft choice of the Kansas City Royals in the Major League Baseball amateur draft in 2012.

Sons, a former standout hurler for the Halifax County High School baseball team and currently on a rehab assignment with the Burlington Royals of the Appalachian League, made his first mound appearance in several months Tuesday in the Royals’ 10-5 loss to the Danville Braves at Dan Daniels Park.

His stat line in his brief appearance was not as important as how he felt afterwards, Sons said after the game.

“My objective was 20 pitches or one inning, and they wanted me to go out there with no pain,” said the left-hander.

“It was a success, even though I was pretty wild tonight.”

Sons reported to the AZL Royals, the Royals’ team that competes in the Arizona Rookie League after the 2012 draft.

He compiled a 3-8 record with a 5.06 ERA after appearing in 25 games with 12 starts in 2012-2013 2013.

He reported to spring training for the Royals earlier this year but pitched only two innings before experiencing pain in his arm.

“They took me out and did an MRI.  I had a strained flexor muscle in my elbow,” explained Sons.

Part of his rehab was stretching and running to get him in shape, with the once slender hurler also gaining 35 pounds of muscle on his 6-3, 176-pound frame.

“I’ve been in rehab for two months, so they’ve put a lot of weight on me.  I feel a lot better,” said Sons.

“It’s part of my rehab, and I feel a lot better,” said Sons, who sat out about six weeks before throwing again.

He started out throwing 10 throws a day from 45 feet out and worked his way up.

“I worked my way up to bullpens, I had about four bullpens, then live BPs (batting practice) with a batter.

“Today (Tuesday) was my first live inning since my last BP last Friday.”

Sons explained he was anxious to get back on the mound Tuesday after the long layoff, particularly with a number of family, friends, and former coaches and teammates making the trip to Danville to watch him pitch.

“There was a lot of adrenaline tonight, it felt so good to come back to my hometown,” Sons noted.

“My arm felt phenomenal, they did a good job.

“I like pitching better when I’m nervous, the more nervous the better I pitch.”

Sons added he’s on the right track in terms of regaining his velocity and control.

“My velocity has been down a lot, it’s been like 86, and I was up to 91 tonight, so that was a good thing,” he said.

Once he gets his fundamentals down right, his control will come naturally, he added.

Sons will take two days off and pitch another inning like Tuesday, then progress to more innings and a higher pitch count as part of his continuing rehab.

“I’ll be on an 80-pitch count, maybe,” noted Sons, who said he might stay with the Burlington Royals the remainder of the season.

“I’m guessing the rest of the season, it will be awhile,” he pointed out.

Sons said he was making progress in the past two seasons in the Arizona Rookie League, working with someone who has taught two Cy Young Award-winning pitchers.

“He taught me a lot, and I’ve gained a lot of weight,” said Sons.

“With the extra weight, you pitch so much better.  My curve ball is a lot sharper than it used to be.”

Pitching in the Appalachian League is a far cry from the rookie leagues in Arizona, and he hopes to take his rehab one step at a time, Sons noted.

He is still on track despite his setback.

“I’m just now where I can start working my way up,” he said.

“I don’t think they planned on me getting hurt.  I was pitching in Lexington (Kentucky) during spring training, and then I got hurt.

“I was going to be a starter for Burlington, but I was hurt longer than they thought.  I just have to work my way up and prove myself now.”

His current assignment brings him closer to home, and that’s another plus, according to Sons.

“I’m pretty happy,” he pointed out.

Staying with Burlington the rest of the year means more time with family and closer to home.

“If I started here and ended up in Lexington (Low A), that would be a bonus.

“Nobody wants to stay in one league all year, they want to progress.  You can’t push it too fast.”

Looking in the stands and seeing so many familiar faces brought back fond memories, Sons said.

“It made me feel pretty special…a lot of memories,” Sons remarked. 

“It was pretty good.”