#27: Brant Rustich Scouting Report
Rustich again missed vital parts of the season
Rustich again missed vital parts of the season
Publisher
Posted Jan 4, 2011


Brant Rustich's career has been one of the bigger question marks in the farm system over the last few years. Diagnosed with another injury that required surgery, Rustich finds himself yet again battling his way back to the mound. Yet, if he returns healthy and productive, he still has a shot at helping the Mets in the near future.

Vital Statistics
Name: Brant Rustich
DOB: January 23, 1985
Height: 6’6”
Weight: 230
Throws: Right
Bats: Right
Status: 2nd Round (2007) – UCLA

Injuries of varying degree, at some point, can affect the upward trajectory of many prospects. When injuries become repetitive and severe, however, they have the ability sidetrack talent and leave a prospect in a frustrating state of limbo. No Mets prospect understands that pain more than Brant Rustich.

The second-round pick has endured a litany of injuries throughout his career. This year, Rustich made it through the early stages of his rehab in extended spring training and appeared poised to return to the mound. But after just 14 2/3 innings (9 1/3 innings spent rehabbing in the Gulf Coast League) further injury knocked him back down again.

In the past, it was a myriad of sometimes vague but certainly painful arm and elbow trouble. Most recently, Rustich was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, a difficult injury which, when corrected, he believes will be the solution to the ills which limited him to 136 innings pitched over his four-year career.

“It was just so frustrating to have go get checked out for something else,” Rustich said this fall after his diagnosis of TOS. “In the spring, I thought things were going well. I was pitching without pain to start and then when I got back into game action the pain came back big time when I was pitching and between outings.”

Rustich described the pain as sharp enough that it made him second guess what he was doing to his arm and whether the physical toll would be worth it if a solution was not found. Having already pitched through significant pain in 2008 and 2009, Rustich weighed the negatives of having to do it again.

“It was a tough thing to have go through again. I kept thinking to myself ‘when I’m going to get a chance to pitch without having my arm hurt?” he revealed. “It got to the point where I had difficulty feeling the ball and my arm would hang dead sometimes after outings but I was still going out there throwing with good velocity.”

The injuries are a source of frustration not only for Rustich but for the organization as a whole. He is a prospect selected very high off the board which the organization believed would move very quickly toward the big leagues given his size, velocity and otherwise very strong secondary pitches. But, that has not happened and now Rustich faces yet another period of off-season rehab with nothing but the hope he will come out healthy, ready for spring training and able to ascend to New York in a speedy manner.

“Just getting healthy is the only thing I can ask for,” Rustich admitted. “It’s been a long time dealing with these injuries, too long. I still believe I have the stuff to move quickly when I’m healthy but I haven’t really ever been healthy since I was drafted. Hopefully things turn in my favor a bit and I can have a healthy season and show what I know I capable of.”

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

2010

St. Lucie

0-1

0

5.1

9

6

7

3.38

2010

Gulf Coast League

0-0

0

9.1

8

5

6

5.79

2009

St. Lucie

1-1

2

47.2

44

17

46

2.45

2008

Savannah

3-4

0

49.2

42

16

48

3.62

2007

Brooklyn

2-0

2

12.2

4

1

11

2.13

2007

Kingsport

1-0

0

10.1

6

1

10

0.87



Repertoire: Fastball, Slider, Changeup, Curveball

Fastball: Despite the all the arm trouble he has endured, velocity has never been an issue for Rustich. The right-hander remains one of the few, true power arms in the organization with a fastball that sits 93-95 MPH with the potential to reach 97 MPH when he is healthy. Not only does he have good command of the fastball, but his heater has lots of natural movement that he can spin in on hitters on both sides of the plate. He at times throws a fastball with sharp two-seam/split-finger action that he can use to induce a good ratio of ground balls. He will use his fastball to set up his secondary pitches or use it as a finishing pitch.

Other Pitches: Rustich owns a plus slider in the mid-80s slider that in the past has shown true wipeout potential. The repeated arm pain gave way to inconsistencies with the pitch and made Rustich unable to generate the proper arm angle and finish to get idea break on the pitch. That took a toll on his Rustich’s limited performance considering he relies on the slider the most in two-strike situations. Rustich’s 82-85 MPH changeup has shown plus potential in the past given its late bite. However, the pitch took a back seat as he worked his way back in 2010. He flashes a curveball a little bit but the pitch has been nearly non-existent over the last two seasons.

Pitching: Rustich is an aggressive pitcher who relies on his power to get ahead of hitters and finish them quickly. He attacks with his fastball, working quickly to get into favorable counts before going to the slider in two-strike situations. He uses movement to his advantage, changing hitters timing and pacing and drawing weaker contact down in the zone. Maintaining his three-quarters arm slot is pivotal to generating ideal movement.

Projection: Rustich clearly has no road to climb except that as a reliever, but at this point is all about getting him healthy and back on the field. The surgery to alleviate his thoracic outlet syndrome reportedly will have him back pitching roughly 12 weeks after the procedure. If, and with Rustich that has been a big “if”, he can enter spring training healthy and productive there is still no reason why he can’t be in New York within one season. If/when he gets there Rustich has the stuff to be a formidable eighth inning pitcher.

ETA 2012. This is an aggressive estimation with Rustich given his health history. However, if he returns to camp healthy, ready to pitch and gets added to the 40-man roster late in the year, he could receive the opportunity to break camp with the Mets in 2012.



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