In his most recent blog post at MASNSports.com entitled, "Looking back on a busy July", DC GM Mike Rizzo told MASNSports.com's Ben Goessling that Ryan Tatusko, one of two pitchers acquired from Texas (along with RHP Tanner Roark) in exchange for IF Cristian Guzman at the Non-Waiver Trade Deadline, was a Double-A starter with "great stuff" who has, "...a chance to advance...throws 90 to 94 [will] pitch at 92-93," and has a, "...really good curveball and good command of his pitches." The 6'5'', 25-year-old right-hander, was an '07 18th Round pick by the Rangers out of Indiana State University as he told me today in the email interview that follows. In 24 games and 13 starts this season, Tatusko's (9-2) with a 2.97 ERA in 100.0 IP four the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders, over which he's allowed just 2 HR's (0.2 HR/9) and 40 BB (3.6 BB/9) while striking out 58 (5.2 K/9), but more importantly if you know DC GM Mike Rizzo, Tatusko's generated grounder after grounder with the sort of pitch to contact ground ball approach we've come to expect from pitchers Mr. Rizzo likes. Mr. Tatusko was nice enough to answer a few questions of mine as a way of introducing himself to Nats fans:
Federal Baseball (FB): How did you find out you were traded to Washington and what were your first thoughts about joining the Nats' organization?
Ryan Tatusko: The trade was already complete when I got to the field in Frisco, TX and when I got to the clubhouse I had an eerie feeling that I was involved. The first time I saw my name was actually on twitter, they were throwing my name around that I was involved and when more and more sports writers were coming out with my name I knew I was in it. I finally got the 'for sure' when Tanner Roark walked into the clubhouse and they called us both into the Manager's office at the exact same time to tell us.
FB: Can you give Nats fans who might not be familiar with you a quick bio: where you grew up, went to school, any role models or big influences on your development?
Ryan Tatusko: I grew up in Noblesville, IN which is about 25min NE of Indianapolis. After attending Noblesville High School, I had Tommy John surgery then played 3 seasons with Indiana St University [before] I was drafted by the Rangers in the 18th round. My biggest role model was actually Nolan Ryan, so when he became apart of the Rangers' organization I was really excited. Some of the biggest influences in my development were my Low-A pitching coach now pitching coordinator Danny Clark, and my AA pitching coach Jeff Andrews.
FB: Can you just talk a little about what you're working with? Your pitch selection and your approach on the mound?
Ryan Tatusko: I got a fastball that is anywhere between 90-94, a curveball, slider, and change. My go-to pitch is my fastball and curve ball, as I feel confident to throw them in any count. My fastball has natural "cut fastball" movement to it and it always has been my go-to pitch. My CB and SL are my 2nd pitches, respectively, and my change up is my 4th pitch. My approach on the mound is to just work down, that was always the focus in the Rangers' organization. Throw strikes and work down. One thing our pitching coaches always harped on to us is that the ball can't go over the wall on the ground.
FB: You're generating a lot of groundballs this season and your numbers are significantly improved in your first year above A-ball. I read that you altered your mechanics this winter, can you describe the changes you made and how important that's been in your success this season?
Ryan Tatusko: I owe 98% of my success to my altered mechanical changes. I started studying some game film of myself in A Ball and I noticed that I wasn't generating any power in my lower half, and I started working extensively with Indianapolis' pitching coach Jay Lehr alongside fellow Nat Drew Storen. I really worked on keeping everything in line and not rushing with my upper body, and doing that has allowed me to stay behind and on top of the ball and start generating my natural movement again. That natural movement, I believe has allowed me to keep the ball on the ground a lot more and have the success I've been having.
FB: You were in the Rangers' system for a year before Nolan Ryan assumed control and altered the organization's philosophy for developing pitchers, can you talk about what was different and what if anything you personally were asked to do differently once Mr. Ryan took over?
Ryan Tatusko: When Nolan took control there was a big change. Nolan hated the 5 and dive system and wanted his starting pitching going as deep into the games as possible. He wanted the starting pitching to be able to go deeper which meant for us that we had to do a lot more conditioning. Our conditioning program was extremely tough during the off-season and during the season as well. Some of the things that all SPs were asked to do differently were attacking with our FB more and forcing more contact, working a little faster on the mound and going deeper into games. I dont think there were drastic changes because the conditioning and lifting program, but in all I think it was a great thing for us.
FB: Anything you can tell Nats fans about (RHP) Tanner Roark, who came over from Texas with you in the Guzman deal?
Ryan Tatusko: Tanner is another Midwesterner as well. He is going to come at you with a wide arsenal. He throws both 4 and 2 seamers, CB, SL, and CH. He has great control and is not afraid to throw any pitch at any time. Hes an extreme competitor, and when he gets on the mound you always have a chance to win the game. Roark might not look like the most physical of guys, but when he steps on the mound its all business and he is ready to go.