I recently had the opportunity to speak to Nats pitching prospect Ryan Tatusko. For anyone not familiar with Ryan he came over to the Nationals as part of a late July trade that sent Cristian Guzman to the Texas Rangers last season.
Alright Ryan so everyone already knows you as Ryan Tatusko the pitcher but most people don’t know Ryan Tatusko the person so tell us where are you from and did you play any other sports while growing up?
"“I was born and raised in Noblesville, IN which is about thirty minutes northeast of Indianapolis. I played my high school ball in Noblesville and then accepted a scholarship to Indiana St University. Growing up in Indiana, it is true what they say that everyone plays basketball. I grew up with a basketball goal in my front yard so I played anytime I got, as for organized basketball I never really played I was always too focused on baseball, I have always loved the game and just wanted to make myself the best player possible but I did like playing basketball with my friends.”"
Anyone who follows baseball knows that it is one of those sports that keeps you busy throughout most of the year but what do you like to do with the free time you do get?
"“Since we travel so much during the season and don’t have a lot of time to be with friends and family I love trying to catch up with everyone important to me. It’s a funny thing, when the season is coming to an end you are happy to have a little down time and then when November hits, it’s like something clicks in your brain and you are ready for the season to go again. I love traveling in my down time, I love seeing new places and experiencing new things. Even though it’s the off-season those competitive fires till burn so I take a few weeks off to let my body recover from the long season and then I am right back in the gym again getting myself in shape, but like I said before I loved being able to spend time with the people that are closest to me since I don’t get much time during the season.”"
You definitely sound like a person who is committed to being a professional baseball player but had you not made it to the minors what type of career path do you feel you would have ended up taking?
"“I have been around baseball my entire life, I have grown up loving the game. I was a kid growing up that would go play a game and then come home and go play more with my friends; I just couldn’t get enough of it. So if I wasn’t a player I think I would have become a coach. In my early years of taking private lessons I was very fortunate to be able to take lessons from people that understood that my family had a limited disposable income so they helped me out a lot. I would love to be able to open up my own academy and help kids who are less fortunate get instruction to see if they could better themselves. Sports, for a lot of people are a way out of a hard shipped life, and a lot of those kids are unable to explore their talents because of the money it costs for teams and lessons. I would love to be able to go into those areas and help those kids better their life through athletics. In my off-season I give pitching lessons, and I find that teaching kids and watching what they do help my own mechanics and understanding what I do so it’s a mutual beneficial relationship.”"
I’ve read your blog “The Backfield Diaries” which you wrote during your time with the Texas Rangers organization and I see how you interact with fans via twitter it makes me feel as if the fans really matter to you. Which brings me to a two part question
1) Is there any chance that fans of the Nationals organization will get to see some blogs from you this season?
2) If you make it to the majors and I have a feeling that you will do you plan to keep the same fan friendly approach that you have to this point in your career?
"“I would love to be able to write a blog for the Nationals keeping with the theme that I did for the Rangers. I really enjoyed interacting with the fans through my “diaries” and the more I wrote, the more I understood that not many people totally grasp the life of a minor league baseball player. I have been keeping my own notes on my computer about my travels and funny stories that I have been a part of, so I will always have those to pass on and share with my kids if I am unable to write more publicly. I am going to keep my fan friendly approach when/if I make it to the big leagues. There is always a mis-conception that professional athletes are “a different breed” or are “larger than life” the way I see it is that we are just extremely fortunate to be able to try and pursue our “kid dreams.” I love being able to interact with the fans, because I remember growing up and going to AAA games in Indianapolis I would love it when a player would just stop and say “hi” as he was walking by and I remember how cool and important I felt right at that time, so remembering that feeling I want to be able to share it with others as well.”"
What has your experience in the Nationals organization been like since you came over in the trade last season that sent Cristian Guzman to the Rangers for yourself and Tanner Roark?
"“The experience has been great! Being traded is a thing that you always wonder what it would be like to have it happen to you, and when it finally does it really takes you by surprise and you’re in a state of shock as you do not know what to think. When Roark and I got traded we arrived in Harrisburg and the 2nd pitch that we saw of the game Devin Ivanny hit a walk-off HR so after their celebration we walked into the clubhouse and out new teammates welcomes us as if we have been friends for years. Coaches, coordinators, players, and most especially the fans made us feel welcome. Although I am still relatively new to the organization and will be learning a lot of new names as I go into Viera beach, I am really looking forward to my first Spring Training with the nationals. Harrisburg set the barometer for how the organization acts and what they value and I can’t wait to get started this year.”"
After having posted 3 consecutive seasons (07,08, 09) with an era above 4 it appeared as if 2010 may have been a break out year of sorts for you with you having posted an era of 2.63 over 136.2 innings pitched at the Double A level.
So what was the difference for you between how you pitched in 2009 and the way you pitched in 2010?
"“I think the biggest thing for me was confidence. In 07, 08, and 09 my velocity was down a little bit and I couldn’t figure out why, after the ’09 season I went back to Indianapolis and started working with my old pitching coach there and he pointed out some things that I was doing with my delivery, most importantly I was rushing toward home plate which was causing my arm to drag and I was throwing from multiple arm slots throughout the game and it got even worse as I got deep into games and I got even more tired. I worked on staying back and on top of the ball, and when I reported to Spring Training in 2010 and had early success and even saw my velocity numbers jump up it helped my confidence a lot. I think another thing that helped me a lot was to quit trying to get a strike out with the first pitch. I embraced the natural sink that my FB has and started working to get ground balls and if I got 2 strikes then to go for the strikeout and I believe that mentality truly helped me grow the most as a pitcher.”"
Not only was 2010 a big year for you statistically but you were also named to the mid and post season Texas League All Star teams.
So what was the experience of playing in your first all star game like?
"“Being in my first all-star game was incredible. As you progress throughout the season, the other team is seen as the enemy so you really don’t talk with the other players very much unless you got a close friend on the team. Being in the all-star game and being mixed with all the different players, it was a good experience to just be able to make new friends and learn about other organizations as you talk. The players are going for the same goal as you are with their organization so it’s fun to sit and listen to stories that they tell about their organization and you share some about yours as well. One of the cool things about the Texas League All-Star game was that Roger Clemens son, Koby , was appointed to the team as well so to be able to see and talk with Roger was a really cool experience. Roger also threw in the homerun derby and you could just see the competitive spirit in his eyes even throwing BP, a lot of the players were complaining that his fastball was cutting and diving even though he wasn’t meaning too. The entire all-star weekend was awesome and although you were still playing ball it was a chance to relax for a few days and have fun and enjoy yourself.”"
Pretty much just about every good pitcher has multiple pitches in their repertoire that they can go to and pitch successfully with.
How many pitches do you have that you feel you throw well, what are they and which pitch is your best one?
"“I feel like I throw 3 pitches well that being my 2 and 4 seam FB and my curveball, and I think my best pitch is my 4-seam fastball. Even though I don’t have the velocity that some others might have I get some natural sinking and cutting movement on my FB that allows me to miss a lot of barrels when I am going good. I have always felt confidence in my fastball and I am not scared to throw it in any count, as they always say the best pitch in baseball is a well-located baseball and I still believe that no matter what level you are at.”"
Normally for a person to reach success it means they had someone teaching them and influencing them in a positive way on their way to success.
From a baseball aspect what person or people have been the most influential in shaping your career?
"“The man who has shaped my career the most baseball wise was actually 2 people. My dad, Jack, was never too busy to play catch with me, coach my team(s) or practice my mechanics with me. Some of the fondest memories I have as a kid are pitching with my dad in the side yard and throwing to him, he even went as far as building a mound for me in the vacant lot next door to our house to that I can practice on it whenever I wanted. I remember going to fields with my dad without baseballs and just practice my mechanics and making sure that I had everything down. When I passed dad’s expertise, I went to a guy names Jay Lehr and he took me to the next level. He is incredibly brilliant when it comes to mechanics and getting the most of a pitcher. Fellow ‘nat Drew Storen goes to him as well and I’m sure he would agree with me. I credit Jay with my breakout ’10 season as he got me to fully understand why I needed to do things a certain way and he would always work with me when he had a free moment.”"
Recently you were a featured guest at the Syracuse Chiefs Hot Stove Dinner which for anyone not familiar with the event is a pretty big deal for the team. Fans get to come and be around and hear people inside the Nationals organization speak as well as have a dinner and if they feel like it take part in a silent auction. It is sort of a nice way to kick off the season and give fans a chance to get a glimpse at what is in store for the upcoming season.
What was the event like for you and how did it make you feel being selected as a featured guest and getting to sit with some very important people in the Washington Nationals organization including guys such as Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo and Washington Nationals Manger Jim Riggleman?
"“Unfortunately Mr. Rizzo was unable to attend the event but to be able to be around Mr. Harris, Mr. Riggleman, and new manager Randy Knorr was incredible. To just be thought of when they were inviting these people was an incredible honor. Since I am still a little bit of “the new guy” in the organization and I don’t know a ton of people yet I was very thrilled to be able to meet with and talk with all of the participants at the dinner. There was a great crowd on hand, about 300 people I believe, for the dinner which just shows the commitment of the community to the baseball team. It was a lot of fun to be around all the fans and just interact with them. They brought the old president’s cup trophy from the baseball Hall of Fame archives so that was really cool too see. I was also able to take a tour of Alliance Bank Stadium which was a very nice ballpark. The entire experience was amazing and I am thrilled that I was able to be a part of that experience.”"
So now that the new season is about to start are there any goals you set for the year and if so what are they?
"“My goals for the season are to just to prove to myself that last year wasn’t a fluke and that I’m capable of being the pitcher that had a great 2010 season and that I progressed from the pitcher in 07, 08 and 09. I want to continue to develop my pitches and learn as much as I can. I know it sounds cliché to say things like that, but when it comes to the game you constantly have to be a student, because the moment you think that you have everything figured out you get humbled in a huge way. I’m just looking forward to continuing the 2011 season where I left off in 2010.”"
From what I’ve heard and read a lot of people are saying you will more than likely pitch with the Syracuse Chiefs this season it this true or do you not know yet where you will be at this season?
"“You know there is always speculation as to where you will start and things like that but it just comes down to performance, no matter what you got to be able to perform when you get the ball in your hand and that is what I’m looking to do. You come to learn very fast that the only thing that is in your control is your performance and you leave the decision making to other people. One of the things I was told when I was with the Texas Rangers that I have held on too is to make someone do something with you. Meaning no matter what role and what level you are at, be so good at it that the organization has to put you in a better position and I believe that it is the right mentality to have.”"
Alright and now one last question and then I will go ahead and let you go.
Eventually once you are older and hopefully have had a long and successful career as a player would you like to continue your career in baseball in some form other than playing?
"“That is another dream of mine; I would love to be able to be in baseball in any way, shape or form when my playing career is done. I have my degree In Business Administration so I would love to be able to work in a front office somewhere or possibly become a GM. I have grown to have a new found passion for writing as I was able to write a minor-league for the Texas Rangers and it really sparked my interest in writing again. For me, to be around the sport is important to me so I would accept any position that would be asked of me. But manager, coach, GM, and even being on TV or radio would be amazing.”"
Alright well that’s all we have for now but I hope to be able to check back in with you again to see how things are going once the season gets going a little more. Again thanks for sitting down and doing an interview for Teddy Never Wins. I as well as the rest of the site on Teddy Never Wins will definitely be rooting for you this season.
For the readers of Teddy Never Wins make sure to keep an eye on Ryan Tatusko because I would not be surprised to see him in a Washington Nationals jersey one day whether it be as a starter where has pitched in 64 games at the minor league level or in the bullpen where he has pitched in 43 games at the minor league level.
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