Like many young kids, Dylan Rosnick of Loudoun County, Virginia dreamed of one day being a star player in his favorite sport: baseball. But the recent graduate of Champe High School, had a few more obstacles to overcome than your average dreamer.
As a child, Dylan had trouble even brushing his teeth, tying his own shoes, buttoning his shirt or even holding a pencil.
Dylan has Proteus syndrome, a very rare disorder that occurs in less than one out of every 1 million births globally, according to the National Institutes of Health. Proteus syndrome causes skin, bones, and other body tissues to develop disproportionately to other parts of the body. At a young age, Dylan had to undergo a number of surgeries.
Dylan’s fingers now show the most obvious visual example of the disorder. Three of his fingers on both his left and right hand are much longer and wider compared to the others.
Dylan has never been able to wear an off-the-shelf baseball glove, so his dad took ‘normal’ gloves and modified them to fit his son’s hand. That solved one problem, but Proteus syndrome or not, his son still had to find his niche in the game.
The teen had his mind set on becoming a pitcher, but he was repeatedly told he would never be able to do it. However, through perseverance and a lot of experimentation, he says, “I just worked it out.”
So how does one become a baseball pitcher with a different set of hands than his teammates? You don’t, not right away, and probably not ever for most people.
Although Dylan had a very accurate pitch, his throws were much slower than even your average high school pitcher, topping out at 65 mph. Plus, his larger fingers had little grip strength and seemed to just be getting in the way. He feared he was going to be riding a lot of bench as a high school pitcher.
Then something extraordinary was discovered.
Like other great pitchers throughout history, Dylan found his secret weapon. His fingers allowed him to place a huge amount of spin on his pitches, resulting in an extraordinary curveball. It’s a pitch that confused the heck out of hitters.
“When we saw that, it jumped out at us,” Champe High School Coach Joe McDonald said. “And not in a bad way. We thought, what could we do with that?”
When Dylan was given a chance to prove himself as a relief pitcher, he immediately threw three scoreless innings.
“Then we kind of knew at that point that we had something,” said McDonald.
Twenty-two of Virginia’s Conference coaches agreed, recently naming the teen to the division’s second team. Dylan has a 3.70 earned run average (ERA) and a 2-0 record, and he also recorded the second-most innings on his high school team, just off the pace of his twin brother, Ryan, who does not have Proteus syndrome.
“We coach him the exact same way as everyone else because he’s just as good as everyone else,” Champe pitching coach Kenny Moreland said.
Dylan plans to pursue a degree in Elementary Education at Christopher Newport University in the fall. His coach, Moreland, used to pitch for Newport, and he’s already given them the heads up on Dylan heading their way.
“His mechanics are impeccable,” Moreland said. “He can put it all together on the mound. Why couldn’t a team use him?”