By The Baseball Beginnings Guy
August 12, 2009
Rob Rasmussen’s uncle, Neil, was the 12th overall pick in the nation in 1971. The next pick was high school left-hander Frank Tanana. At no. 15, the Red Sox drafted Jim Rice. Mike Schmidt and George Brett were drafted in the second round. You get the point.
Neil Rasmussen’s final pro season was at Double-A Holyoke in 1978, in the fine state of Massachusetts where his nephew, the UCLA left-hander, has spent his two college summers pitching for venerable Orleans in the Cape Cod League. One of the lessons from Neil’s career imparted on Rob was that going to college should come before going pro.
Rob Rasmussen’s stuff has always opened eyes, but if you were to paper scout the numbers in 2008 and 2009, you might miss him. No career is without its bumps in the road, but just about every career is better in the long run if those bumps come before the paychecks. Plus, there’s that degree to fall back on.
When Rasmussen finally does arrive in the major leagues, he’ll be one of the more educated players in multiple respects. His curveball, deviously hard when working, suggests that he pitches bigger than his small high school pedigree or average physical presence.
Rasmussen is listed at 5-11 and 170 pounds, but when he’s on, he gets so much downhill plane that he may well be pitching from the top step of a ladder. Yet in his two years at UCLA, Rasmussen has taken a few tumbles. In his debut as a freshman, he took a line drive off his foot and missed a month. As a sophomore, he pitched well in the fall, got hit early in the spring, and was banished to the bullpen.
This summer, Rasmussen returned to Orleans to prove that he is a starting pitcher and a definite major league prospect. One respected scout compares Rasmussen to All-Star left-hander Ted Lilly for body type, competitiveness and stuff.
Rasmussen was a Cape All-Star in 2009, getting the ball for the start at Fenway Park. Through five starts at the end of July, Rasmussen was 3-0, 1.91. He said he needed to throw more strikes this summer. Eight walks and 37 strikeouts in 28 innings suggest he’s accomplished that. He’ll enter the fall at UCLA with a running start toward the big college season he’s been looking for, one that shows why he once struck out 20 guys in a high school game and why the Dodgers took a 27th round flyer in 2007 on a pitcher they knew was virtually impossible to dissuade from college.
Baseball Beginnings caught up to Rasmussen recently.