13 February 2006

Pending Pinstripes Yankee Prospect of the Week: Darrell Rasner

The New York Yankees claimed RHP Darrell Rasner off waivers from the Washington Nationals this weekend.

Darrell W. Rasner, RHP
Born: January 13, 1981, Carson City, Nevada
Height: 6-3 Weight: 210
Bats/Throws: Right
High School: Carson City High School (Carson City,NV)
College: University of Nevada
Drafted Expos in 2nd round of June 2002 amateur draft

Rasner had struck out more than a batter per inning in his senior year as a starter at the University of Nevada in 2002. He threw in the low 90s back then but there are reports that his fastball has dropped into the mid 80s, and concerns about the health of his arm led the Nationals to waive him. Recognizing that he's still been getting batters out, regardless of his actual velocity, the Yankees picked him up. His strikeout rate has dropped considerably, from 10 to 8 to 6 per nine innings in the last three years, but it seems to have leveled off in that range. On the other hand, he's also walking batters much less frequently, establishing a personal record low with 1.74/9IP in 150 innings in 2005.

What’s he got going for him?

Like I said, Rasner gets batters out. He’ll probably never blow anybody away, but he’s had pretty consistent success at three different Single-A levels and in two years at AA Harrisburg, though he’s gone about it in differnet ways. The player comments in Baseball Prospectus indicate that he has a three-pitch repetoire, fastball curve and change, and his obviously good control (i.e. low walk rate) indicates that he knows how to use those pitches. Health does not seem to be an issue either, as he has pitched at least 100 innings in each of the last four years (combining his numbers in college and the NY-Penn League for 2002).

What’s he got going against him?

Rasner’s a pretty good sized guy (I know better than to say that he “throws hard“), but right handers who only throw in the mid-80s have a tough time getting into the majors. Scouts and front office personnel have inherent biases against pitchers, especially right-handers, who either aren’t at least six feet tall or don’t throw very hard. Jay Tessmer, long-time Yankees organizational soldier, kept runners off the bases and saved minor league games for eight years without ever getting more than a cup of coffee in the majors, simply because he threw underhand and therefore rarely broke 85 mph with his fastball. Rasner doesn’t throw submarine style, so at least he’s not tabbed with the “Weird” label, just the “Slow” one, which may be worse.

Prognosis for 2006:

BP’s 2006 weighted mean projection (4.77 ERA in 123 innings) suggests that Rasner could be a league-average pitcher right now, but I suspect that the Yankees will stow him away at AAA Columbus. He just turned 25, and while it would be nice for a college pitcher like him, especially a second-round pick, to have already mastered the highest level of the minors, Rasner’s progress is both encouraging and undeniable. Having him in AAA will serve the dual purposes of helping him refine his skills at a higher level (he did get a cup of coffee with Washington last year, but hasn’t pitched an inning in AAA yet.) and giving the major league club another option should their aging rotation again suffer the injury/ineffectiveness problems that plagued them in 2005.

If, as he says, Rasner’s just chosen not to throw as hard, recognizing that he can get batters out with his smarts instead of speed, and therefore save his arm for the rest of his career, then kudos to him for remaking himself. Lots of pitchers suffer injuries because of trying to do too much and are forced to re-learn pitching, later in life, with a different skill set. Rasner was smart enough to prevent that scenario in the first place. The only question now is whether he has enough “stuff” to get by in the Big Leagues. Given the injury history and age of the starters in the Bronx, I’m guessing that it’s just a matter of time before we get to see if Rasner’s a real talent or not.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Really it is awesome to see Rasner in this pose. Although his strike out rate has dropped now, I am having the confidence that he will be in the top order within couple of months. ALL THE BEST!!!