11/25/09

The Keepers - #14 - RP - Brant Rustich

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14. Brant Rustich – RP – AA – 25/yrs.

Rustich’s 2007 stats with UCLA: 20 appearances (1 start), 3-2, 6 saves, 6.67 ERA, 29.2 IP, 31 H, 20 BB, 28 Ks, 3HRs, .265 BA.

A scouting report prior to draft: A physical beast at a listed 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, at times Rustich has three above-average pitches in his 93-96 mph fastball, power slider (at times touching 87 mph) and split-finger fastball. He's still bothered by a finger injury that caused him to redshirt last season, and his command is nearly nonexistent. In terms of stuff, he's a first-round talent, but his lack of pitchability makes him a 22-year-old with a 6.10 career ERA and 75 walks in 124 innings.

And a local article just after the draft: UCLA right-handed pitcher Brant Rustich was selected by the New York Mets in the second round of the Major League Baseball Draft Thursday afternoon. Rustich, the 93rd overall selection in the 2007 draft, became the 28th baseball player in school history to be chosen in the first two rounds. Rustich, a hard-throwing 6-foot-6-inch right-hander from El Cajon, Calif., leads the Bruins with six saves this season. The redshirt junior has tallied a 3-2 record and a 6.67 ERA in 20 appearances, striking out 28 batters in 29.2 innings. Rustich limited hitters to a .265 clip and made one start midway through the season. Rustich becomes just the seventh Bruin to have been chosen by the New York Mets. At least one UCLA ballplayer has been selected within the first two rounds in three of the past four drafts. The former Grossmont High School standout received a medical redshirt in 2006 after suffering a finger injury. Rustich recorded a 1.50 ERA with 10 strikeouts in 6.0 innings of relief that season.


The Mets drafted Rustich in the 2nd round of the 2007 draft. He started the 2007 season for Kingsport (1-0, 0.87 in 5 games, 2 starts), but was quickly promoted to Brooklyn (2-0, 2.13, 0.39 in 10 appearances).

In September 2007, Rustich was assigned to play in the Hawaiian Winter League (which is always a sign that the organization wants to invest more time and money in you). It is also quite an honor for someone who was drafted in the same year to be assigned this high. Aslo in September, Baseball America ranked Rustich as the 20th top prospect to come out of the NY-Penn league.

In November 2007, Scouts.com ranked Rustich as the 4th top Mets prospect, while BA had him 6th.

In late January 2007, Baseball America ranked him as the 6th overall Mets prospect.

In February 2008, Baseball Prospectus awarded him a 3-star rating and ranked him as the 5th overall Mets prospect.

Also in February 2008, Rotoworld ranked Rustich as the #7 Mets prospect, saying: Rustich was terribly inconsistent at UCLA, posting a 6.10 ERA and a 114/75 K/BB ratio in 124 career innings. He wasn't any better last year, finishing with a 6.67 ERA and a 28/20 K/BB ratio in 29 2/3 innings. Still, the Mets made him a second-round pick and he pulled off a stunning turnaround in the low minors, finishing with a 21/2 K/BB ratio in 23 innings. Rustich throws in the mid-90s and has a powerful build, so it's not surprising that he was drafted as early as he was. Still, he figured to be a long-term project. Now it's conceivable that he could see the majors before the end of this year, depending on whether his command holds up. He has a better chance than Kunz of turning into a closer someday. However, he's also the more likely of the two to have no significant career at all.


Rustich pitched dinged for most of the 2008 season, for Savannah, but still managed to post stats of: 3-4, 3.62, in 20 games, 8 starts, 48Ks, 49.2 IP

In 2009, Rustich dug in to St. Lucie and produced an all-star season: 1-1, 2.45, 1.28, 19 appearances, 3 starts, 46-K, 47.2-IP.

Forecast:


Rustich is injury free, has a lifetime professional record over 3 seasons of 7-5, 2.77, 1.09, and will play 2010 as a 26-year old. He is one of the premier Mets relievers in the system and may be ready for the fast track. Watch for 6-6 right hander to start the season with Binghamton, and if he dominates, could wind up in Queens by September.

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