MLB reports:  At MLB reports we will be running an occasional series titled “On the Verge” where we profile a prospect about to hit the MLB scene.  In today’s feature, we profile Ryan Tatusko of the Washington Nationals.

Ryan was born March 27, 1985.  Standing 6’5” and weighing a solid 200 lbs, 2010 represented a breakout year for the right-handed pitching Tatusko.  He was drafted in the 18th round of the 2007 draft by the Texas Rangers out of Indiana State University (hometown Merrillville, Indiana).  After the 3 ½ seasons climbing up 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, both starting and relieving.  After being acquired by the Nationals, Tatusko finished 2010 exclusively as a starter for AA Harrisburg.

From 2007-2009, Tatusko did not have numbers that jumped out.  ERAs each year of 4.13, 4.46 and 4.64, records of 3-7, 3-11 and 7-6, in addition to WHIPs of 1.347, 1.372 and 1.338.  A young developing pitcher, but not one on the “radar” so to speak.  In the 1st half of 2010 with Frisco, Tatusko pitched in 24 games, 13 as a starter.  His record was 9-2 with a 2.97 ERA and 1.340 WHIP.  Definitely solid numbers, but a breakout was still in order.  That breakout occurred in the 2nd half of his 2010 season with Harrisburg, where Tatusko pitched in 6 games entirely as a starter, to a sparkling 3-1 record, 1.72 ERA and 1.173 WHIP.  His SO/BB ratio with Frisco was 1.45 and ballooned to 2.77 with Harrisburg.  When I review these numbers, I see a Kyle Drabek type pitcher at the beginning of 2010 and a Stephen Strasburg clone at the end.

Looking at Ryan’s final 2010 numbers combined in AA, we see a 12-3 record, with a 2.63 ERA and 1.295 WHIP.  From an 18th round pick with a microscopic chance of advancement in professional baseball, Ryan is a pitcher likely ticketed for AAA to start 2011 and could end up with the big club sometime between the all-star break and September.

I have had a pleasure to chat with Ryan on a couple of occasions by e-mail and did some research on him as well.  Tatusko has a strong curveball as well as good command of 3 other pitches- fastball, changeup and slider.  The debate early in his career was whether he would remain a starter or be moved permanently to the bullpen.  Young pitchers in the minors are often eased through both roles in the hopes that they will excel in one given spot.  As a 4-pitch pitcher and coming off a strong finish in 2010, Tatusko will likely be a full-time starter for the foreseeable future.  A student of the game, Tatusko keeps journals of his work and watches video in working on and perfecting his mechanics.  A tireless student of the game, Tatusko has the will and ambition to succeed at the pro-level, which is often described as “90% mental and 10% physical”.

Running into growing pains and adversity early in his career was likely a very good thing for Ryan.  Too often in the MLB we see hotshot prospects rushed to the majors, only to have their careers cut short by injuries or failed confidence.  By building his time up in the minors the right way, Tatusko has been able to prove himself and rise up the prospects ladder.  The Nationals going into 2011 are in an interesting situation pitching wise.  They have a young highly touted closer in Storen, that is expected to close for the club for the next decade.  The starting rotation however, is filled with questions marks and landmines.  Livian Hernandez is currently tabbed as the opening day starter.  Enough said.  From there we see the other potential starters being Marquis, Zimmerman, Lannan and Maya.  In the mix we have injured starters Strasburg and Wang who are not certain as to the roles they could play in 2011.  As soon as an opening arises, Tatusko will be one of the first to be called up this year.  If Ryan is able to grow in 2011 the way he did in 2010, his first stay in Washington could be permanent.

Ryan Tatusko is a man who eats, breathes, sleeps and bleeds professional baseball.  Talking to him, I got the sense that this was a ballplayer with no sense of entitlement that has worked hard and earned everything that he has accomplished.  Good luck to Ryan on the 2011 campaign and we all look forward to watching you as you continue your baseball journey to the show.


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Posted on February 1, 2011, in Interviews with MLB Stars, MLB Player Profiles, On the Verge: MLB Prospects and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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