Hope springs eternal in the friendly confines of Chicago’s Wrigley Field. Despite last winning the World Series in 1908, the Cubs have annually captivated their fans over the years with possibilities of grandeur. Expectations are high once again this season in the Windy City, as the Cubbies have assembled a strong roster, combining savvy veterans with a veritable stable of young talent. However, not all of the youngsters have graduated to the majors, and there are still a significant number of prospects looming on the horizon. This includes left-handed pitcher Rob Zastryzny.
Following a decorated stint with Calallen High School in Corpus Christi, Texas, and a standout career with the University of Missouri, Zastryzny was selected by the Cubs in the second round (41st overall pick) of the 2013 draft; the team’s next pick after current phenom, Kris Bryant.
The 23-year-old southpaw has the ability to be a starter in the majors. In his three professional seasons, he has gone a combined 5-7 with a 4.22 ERA and 140 strikeouts in 141.1 innings covering 37 games (33 starts). This scouting report will give a good idea of his potential, which he is continuing to unlock. He has reached Double-A this season but has battled injuries and made just three appearances thus far in 2015.
I had a chance to ask Zastryzny some questions back in 2013. Keep reading for more, and also make sure to follow him on Twitter as he continues his journey towards the major leagues.
Rob Zastryzny Interview:
Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?: My favorite player growing up was Craig Biggio by far. He always hustled everything out and played the game the right way. He was never the most physically gifted guy but he used every bit of talent and skill he had.
How well did your experience at the University of Missouri-Columbia prepare you for your baseball career?: Very well. I was blessed to have played for such a great organization for three years and I wouldn't change a thing. My pitching coach, Matt Hobbs, was by far the most influential person in my pitching career. He taught me that pitching is as much mental as it is physical and that pitchers set the tempo of every game.
You were a tremendous hitter in high school (career .401 hitter). How difficult was it to give that up to focus on pitching?: I loved hitting. I still go and hit every now and then for fun. But I knew that if I was going to progress in the game of baseball it would be as a pitcher. To tell you the truth, I was very excited I went to a National League team just so I could get the opportunity to hit again.
What pitches do you throw and which do you think you need to work on the most?: I throw a fastball, curveball, slider and changeup. I need to work on off-speed command the most.
How did you first find out that the Cubs were interested in you?: The area scout came to see me twice my junior year at Missouri, but other than that I had no idea.
Can you describe your emotions/surroundings when you found out you had been drafted?: It was a very surreal experience. I didn't want it to be a big deal, so it was only my immediate family at the house. But the dream isn't to be drafted, the dream is to play and be successful in the big leagues and help my team win.
Can you talk a bit about how your first visit with the Cubs went after you signed?: I went to Arizona four days after I was drafted and everyone there treated me well. The coaches in the AZL did a great job introducing me to pro ball and help me learn all I needed to learn before being sent to Boise.
What do you think are your best assets that you bring to the Chicago organization?: I hope to bring leadership to whatever team they decide to put me on, and I hope that I can help the team win games and help the organization as much as I can in years to come.
You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew