In the second round, the Cubs drafted a left-handed pitcher that went 2-9 his junior year and didn't appear on some draft experts top 100 list. Missouri's Rob Zastryzny might have been one of the best kept secrets in the draft.
"Rob was considered in the first round by a handful of teams and would have been selected shortly after the 41st pick when the Cubs chose him," Missouri head coach Tim Jamieson conveyed to Northsiders Report.
Jamieson, the Tigers head coach for the past 18 years, is no stranger to pitching talent as Missouri hurlers Max Scherzer (Tigers), Aaron Crowe (Royals), and Kyle Gibson (Twins) were all recent first-round picks.
It was his improvement this season and a fastball that hit the mid-90s that shot the 6-foot-3, 205-pounder up the draft boards this spring.
"This past year he touched 95 at times, improved his fastball command, and showed a plus change and an average breaking ball that showed better than average at times, Jamieson said.
The high school star from Corpus Christi came to Missouri as a freshman with an impressive resume going 17-1 with 198 strikeouts his senior year at Calallen High School but went undrafted.
"He showed up on campus about 175 pounds and throwing 84-88 with his fastball," Missouri pitching coach Matthew Hobbs said. Ready or not, Zastryzny moved into the rotation. He started 15 games for the Tigers posting a 2-5 record with a 4.33 ERA with 70 punchouts and 27 walks in 87.1 innings.
"Rob's freshman year he was forced into the Friday night role because of injuries in our pitching staff," the head coach said of his 2011 season. "He competed very well with mainly a fastball and a lot of guts. His secondary pitches were pretty much non existent."
"He mostly got away with throwing fastball's to gloveside and showing his breaking ball and change up to keep hitters off his fastball to be effective," Missouri's pitching coach said of the left-hander who earned All Big-12 Freshman honors.
As a sophomore, Zastryzny not only upped the velocity on his fastball but also started developing secondary pitches. He went 5-5 in 17 starts and became the first Missouri pitcher since 2009 to throw a shutout in conference play blanking Texas Tech and also fanned 12 in a win over Oklahoma State. He tossed 109 innings with 76 punchouts and 31 walks.
"His sophomore year he pitched in the same role with a bump in velocity up to 92 and an improvement in his change up and breaking ball," Jamieson said of his second college season.
He made 13 starts this year for Missouri, their first in the SEC, but went 2-9 as the Tigers averaged just 2.5 runs per game in his starts. He threw three complete games with 82 strikeouts in 90.2 innings and drew attention at the SEC tournament when he hit 95 on the radar gun against Mississippi State.
"He has added to his game every year he has been here, progressively adding velocity and sharpening up his secondary stuff. He has always been able to dial his stuff up in big spots and since his stuff has improved he has been able to call for better velocity in those spots or bury his secondary stuff when he needed to. His command at this point is really good with his fastball and change-up he can use them in and out of the zone as needed," Hobbs said of Zastryzny's progression while at Missouri.
According to Hobbs, "His best overall pitch is his fastball. He has been able to command it better each year and he can add and subtract from it. His range, although it sounds strange, is anywhere from 86-95. He throws an above average change up and also has a curve ball and a slider."
Not only are the Cubs getting a needed arm to bolster pitching depth but a "guy with plus stuff that loves to compete."
"Rob is a great teammate and a great representative of our baseball program," Jamieson said. "He worked hard to improve all of his skills during his career and always held the team and program at the highest point with how he played and prepared. Rob was a great leader for our pitching staff and had a very positive personality."
"He's a great kid with outstanding work ethic," Hobbs said. "He is a very good pitcher and a better person."
But don't let the nice guy image fool you as he took note of falling to # 41 and told the St. Louis Dispatch, "because at 41, that means everyone passed over me. And now I have a reason to hate every other team in baseball. It worked out perfect."
He also indicated he's likely to sign with the Cubs as he has talked with the Mizzou coaching staff and they don't expect him back.