Scouting Yankees Prospect #27: Evan Rutckyj

Rutckyj needs to pitch ahead in counts more often

The New York Yankees drafted left-handed pitcher Evan Rutckyj in the 16th round of the 2010 MLB Draft out of St. Joseph's High School in Ontario, Canada. He has proven to have some great overall stuff in his first two full seasons in the organization but it's been the consistent command of those pitches that still remains a top priority in his development.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Evan Rutckyj
Position: Pitcher
DOB: January 31, 1992
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 215
Bats: Right
Throws: Left

"Spring training and Extended [Spring Training] I maybe had one walk, two walks out of three months there. And then I came here [to Staten Island], and Charleston, and even then I had a bunch of walks," Rutckyj told PinstripePlus.com towards the end of the 2012 season. "That's one thing I wanted to work on this year is less walks. I've been kind of off and on with that."

He dominated batters during Extended but finished his season going a combined 8-8 with a 3.91 ERA between short-season Staten Island and low-A Charleston, and walking 49 batters in a little more than 100 innings pitched.

His continued work on throwing more strikes and limiting walks have fallen into the baby steps category recently. After walking nearly five batters per nine innings in the Gulf Coast League in 2011 and then again in Charleston last season, he was able to shave that down to four walks per nine innings with the Staten Island Yankees.

"That's been a key issue with him," Staten Island pitching coach Carlos Chantres said. "Most of these guys, what we're doing in the bullpen is focusing on their fastball command because that's the only way you can move up to another level."

It isn't just fastball command either though. The 6-foot-5 lefty is also trying to better command both his slider and changeup, and mix them in for strikes within the zone during fastball counts.

"Working my slider on both sides of the plate, not just throwing it down the middle for a strike. I'm trying to get it to the inside corner, outside corner," Rutckyj said.

"I'm working on throwing my offspeed later in the count or if I'm even behind in the count. So say it's 2-0, I can get a changeup in there for a swing and miss."

The stuff has been and still remains a big-time positive in his game, including a plus fastball and two above average secondary pitches. The pitch-ability of that stuff, however, remains a developmental key going forward in order to tap his real potential.

"I felt like every time I looked up at the scoreboard it was 3-0 or 3-1 [on opposing batters], and man it is so tough when you are behind hitters," Staten Island manager Justin Pope said. "There's a reason why hitters are in pro ball, it's because they can hit.

"If you can't pitch ahead of guys it's going to be tough to be successful. I don't care if you're in the big leagues or if you're in the GCL, you have to be able to pitch ahead of hitters."

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2012

Charleston

3-2

0

24.0

22

14

23

4.50

2012

Staten Island

5-6

0

77.1

80

35

63

3.72

2011

GCL Yankees

5-3

0

45.1

42

24

37

4.76

2010

GCL Yankees

0-0

0

1.0

0

0

0

0.00



Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.

Fastball. Rutckyj sat more in the 89-92 mph range in his first year plus in the organization but he was always considered a prime candidate to add velocity because of his size and room for growth, and that's exactly what happened in 2012. He saw his average velocity begin to sit in the 91-94 mph range and with that added power came even more control problems from a consistency standpoint. He gets such good tailing action too and that also makes it a bit more difficult to command.

Other Pitches. Like his fastball, Rutckyj boasts an above average to sometimes plus slider that can also evade him control-wise for stretches. It's a hard slider too for a lefty, sitting anywhere from 82-85 mph and showing good break. He rounds out his repertoire with a solid big league changeup. That is the pitch he can command better than most but it's also the pitch that doesn't move quite as well as the others.

Pitching. Rutckyj grew up as a very talented hockey player and that has both a positive and negative effect on his game. He is ultra-competitive on the mound and in his development, showing an insatiable desire to win and get better. While that does make him one of the hardest workers around, he can put the foot on the gas a bit too much and get overly amped up in games when things don't go his way and that doesn't help his control much either. When he gets ahead in counts though he can be unhittable for long stretches. He is a very good athlete and one who might not be done growing either, giving him even more long-term potential than he's shown thus far.

Projection. Wiry strong and competitive to boot, physically there aren't too many left-handers like Rutckyj. He truly has a big league body and some nasty stuff too, giving him a truly high ceiling on the mound. However, his pitch-ability still needs work and it has to start with consistently getting ahead of hitters in counts. He has shown an ability to do just that in spurts but now he has to do it consistently to tap his front-half of big league rotation type of starting pitcher ceiling. Until he does though he better projects as a middle to back-end [most likely the latter] starting pitcher because he beats himself too much. For him it's all about throwing more strikes, limiting walks, and getting ahead in counts more frequently so he can get batters to swing at his pitches.

ETA. 2015. Rutckyj should begin the 2013 season in low-A Charleston and he could really begin to fly through the minor leagues if he gets to the point where he's throwing strikes consistently game in and game out.

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