Ryan Tatusko: Quick Stats
Team: Washington Nationals
Height: 6′ 5″, Weight: 200 lb. Born: March 27, 1985 in Merrillville, Indiana
Drafted: Texas Rangers in the 18th round of the 2007 MLB June Amateur Draft.
Favorite Player Growing Up: Nolan Ryan
Chasing The Dream: The Ryan Tatusko Story
On June 7th, 2007 Major League Baseball held its annual amateur player draft. Over the course of two full days a total of 1453 baseball players from high schools and colleges would be selected. As we begin to enter the 2012 season, this particular draft has graduated a number of players who are making an impact at the big league level. Three of these players have been named major league all stars in David Price, Matt Wieters, and Jason Heyward. In today’s installment of Chasing The Dream we take a look at Ryan Tatusko, an 18th round draft pick by the Texas Rangers out of Indiana State University.
The Rangers and Tatusko quickly agreed to a contract and he made his debut at Spokane. The right hander features a four pitch mix. A fastball which ranges from 90 to 94 mph, a curveball, slider and changeup. Over the course of his first three seasons the young pitcher from Indiana saw himself move up one level each season. During these three seasons Tatusko saw time both as a starter and reliever. 45 out of 77 appearances were starts. After 3 ½ seasons in the Rangers system, Tatusko was traded on July 30, 2010 with fellow pitcher Tanner Roark for shortstop Christian Guzman. At the time of the trade, Tatusko was pitching for AA Frisco Roughriders, he had been off to a hot start. In 13 starts and 11 appearances out of the pen his record stood at 9-2 with an era of 2.97. After being acquired by the Nationals, Tatusko finished 2010 exclusively as a starter for AA Harrisburg. He continued to put up impressive numbers with his new ball club going 3-1 with a 1.72 era in 6 starts before the season came to a close.
As 2011 approached everything appeared to be looking up. Coming off a superb 2010 season and moving to an organization whose scouts liked what the righty had to offer. Tatusko looked to impress his new team and continue his move up the ladder inching closer to every ball players team, to reach the major leagues. With all careers there are ups and there are downs. Just as 2010 went well, 2011 was just the opposite. Tatusko struggled to replicate his 2010 and found himself pitching more out of the bullpen than taking the mound every five days. The adjustment to the pen can be a difficult one for someone who is used to starting. Tatusko adjusted and finished the year making 23 appearances out of the pen at Syracuse at the AAA level . Though the numbers 3-4 with a 4.54 era may not jump out as impressive, Tatusko and The Nationals worked on a game plan to send him to the Venezuelan Winter League. At the VSL he would be able to work on some things and come back focused and prepared for 2012.
With spring training less than 2 months away what will the 2012 season hold for the 26 year old right handed pitcher? Keep checking back here as we will follow Ryan as he chases his dream to the majors. Also be sure to follow Ryan on twitter @RyanTatusko
Seven Questions with Ryan Tatusko
What was it like to be drafted, what were you doing when you found out?
Being drafted was a realization of a lifelong dream, I had a little bit of a feeling that it might happen but I wasn’t sure in what round I was going to go in. I was actually sitting in front of my computer with my mom watching the draft when I heard my name called.
Reading up on your career I saw that you had Tommy John surgery at a young age. What was that experience like for you and how hard is it to rehab and come back from a surgery like that?
I had Tommy John when I was 17 and a senior in high school, for me I didn’t quite realize what it was when I first needed it. I knew that I had some pain in my elbow but I wasn’t sure exactly while to what extent the pain was. After trying to pitch through it after diagnosis’ of inflammation I went to a specialist where they told me I needed Tommy John. I wound up having the surgery and sitting out my freshman year in college, and for me the hardest part about the rehab was the mental aspect of it. When you first get out of the surgery you can barely move your arm, let alone think about throwing a ball 90+mph in a year, so trying to stave off all the negative thoughts that run through your mind was the toughest part.
Every player has ups and downs. So far in your pro career what has been your biggest up and your biggest down?
My biggest up so far was when I was in the California league and threw a 1-hitter (carried the no-no into the 9th) against the Modesto Nuts when I was with the Bakersfield Blaze, or when I threw a 1-hitter against Corpus Christi on less than 90 pitches in 9 innings. Those two games really stick out at me as my best. I would say my biggest down was the 2011 season. I was extremely disappointed in myself in how I performed, especially since I was my first with the Nationals and I wanted to prove things and make them happy with the trade they made but I also think that is where I went wrong, I tried to do too much and go outside of my realm and what I do best and the more I tried to prove myself the bigger the hole I dug myself into. I started to right the ship right as the season was ending, so I am excited to get back on the hill again in 2012.
You have now played for two organizations. What is harder adjusting to a new level of baseball or adjusting to a new organization and their philosophy/teachings?
I would say its adjusting to the levels of ball. The general rules of baseball apply no matter where you are playing the game, whats good about being with different organizations is that you get put in front of a multitude of knowledge and experience and they might have some tweaks or suggestions for you that other people may not have told you before and it might be the extra kick you need to get yourself started again or the extra boost you need.
Having just returned from winter ball in the VWL, which got some bad publicity with the Wilson Ramos incident. Can you maybe share a little bit about your experiences playing in the Venezuelan Winter League?
I absolutely loved my time in winter ball, the fans were passionate and loud and the overall atmosphere down there is just electrifying. I love being immersed in the culture and getting to know the people down there, and realizing that when US baseball ends there is a whole other sector that starts up with just as passionate of people and following. I was really happy I was extended the offer to come down there, because I think I was able to work out a lot of kinks I was still carrying over from the 2011 season, although my numbers really don’t support that I really do think I had a successful year down there. The way the Bravos treated my girlfriend and I down there was first class, and I would absolutely love the opportunity to go back down there and play again for them.
Have the Nationals told you about what they have planned for you for 2012 as we inch closer to spring training?
I am not sure what they have planned for me, I have had some discussions with the Nationals and I realize that my future is in the bullpen as a possible long relif/swingman. I embraced the permanent change to the bullpen last year, and I made it a learning year for me as I have never spent that much time in the pen before but I really did like it. I was in VZL as a starter to work on my pitches and I know the nationals liked that. I don’t know what they have exactly planned for me in MiLB but I know that if I get my chance to play at the next level it will most likely be in the bullpen which I am absolutely fine with. I just want to go up there and pitch.
What is your biggest strength and weakness as a Pitcher?
My biggest strength is I feel I work fast and make the hitters uncomfortable at the plate. I enjoy working at a fast pace on the mound and trying to get my team back in the dugout to hit. I also have the mentality that no matter what the day is my stuff can compete with anyone who steps in that box and so that helps me attack the zone more. I would say my weakness is that I tend to nibble around the zone for some reason and when I walk people is when I get hurt, I have found that if I limit my walks I limit the number of runs scored on my dramatically so that was one thing I worked on in VZL, was attack attack, and attack some more.
My most prized card would be my Nolan Ryan rookie card (graded). I received it as a gift from a friend, and it was one of the coolest gifts I’ve ever gotten. My most prized collectable would be my Nolan Ryan personal autographed baseball and my 2008 white, world series, authentic majestic, autographed Evan Longoria jersey. If you couldn’t tell my idol growing up was Nolan and it was one of my biggest dreams to be able to talk to him and shake his hand, I felt like a little kid again. I loved the way he went after people, and although he didn’t have the best command he always got it done and so I always looked up to him.
A special thanks to Ryan for taking some time out of his offseason. Especially around the holidays to answer some questions in our first installment of Chasing The Dream.