Prospect Profile: Ryan Zink


Ryan Zink | RHP

Zink grew up in the baseball … ahem … hotbed of Madison, WI, where he attended LaFollette High School. A standout for the Lancers, he was named to the All-City First Team and was an honorable mention for the All-Conference team as a sophomore, when he led the school to the City Championship. As a junior Zink repeated as a first team All-City player, adding All-Conference First Team and All-District Second Team honors to his resume. He was at his best when needed most, striking out eleven batters and allowing just three hits in a ten inning outing in the Regional Finals.

If there was any doubt that he was already the best baseball player in school history, Zink cemented that status at LaFollette with a monster senior season: 6-1, 0.57 ERA on the mound, .377 batting avg, five homers, 37 RBI at the plate. He was again named to the All-City and All-Conference first teams, and added All-District and All-State honors for good measure. He was also named 2003 Wisconsin Gatorade Player of the Year, MVP of the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Game, as well as city, conference, district and state Player of the Year. Yeah, he’s got some hardware for the ol’ mantle.

Baseball America rated Zink the best prospect in the state for the 2003 Draft, projecting him as top ten rounds pick. With a strong commitment and full ride to the University of Illinois-Chicago in his pocket, Zink lasted until the 47th round (1,377th overall) when his hometown Brewers selected him in recognition of his great high school career. He’s the only player in school history to be drafted, but he didn’t sign and headed to UIC.

The best pitcher on the Flames’ staff the day he set foot on campus, Zink dominated as a true freshman, finishing 9-3, 2.07 ERA, 0.95 WHIP with 92 strikeouts in 95.2 IP. He led the Horizon League in innings thanks to six complete games (in eleven starts). Zink struck out thirteen batters in his first career start on March 7th, then threw the tenth no-hitter in school history on May 19th, striking out ten Youngstown State Penguins in a 7-0 rout. He was named to the All-Horizon League First Team, Horizon League All-Newcomer Team, and Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American. He pitched for the Madison Mallards of the Northwoods League over the summer.

Zink’s sophomore year wasn’t as statistically dominant as his freshman effort, but he still led the team with 76 strikeouts and set a single-season school record with 119 IP. He finished with an 8-6 record, 3.78 ERA and 1.35 WHIP, and was named to the All-Horizon League Second Team. Named to the League Championship All-Tournament Team and MVP of the League Championship, Zink led the Flames to the league crown with three innings of one hit relief to earn the save over UW-Milwaukee in the title game. UIC lost to Joba Chamberlain and Nebraska then Andrew Brackman and NC State to end their season in the Regionals. You can’t make this stuff up, click the links if you don’t believe those were the two opposing starters. Small world, huh?

Expected to be a top three rounds draft pick prior to his junior year, Zink never got a chance to pitch in a game because he underwent Tommy John surgery in March. He took a medical redshirt and went untouched in the ’06 Draft.

Coming back strong – and early – from TJ, Zink returned to the mound in mid-February and managed to pitch just about a full season for the Flames as a redshirt junior in 2007. He went 7-3, 4.24 ERA, 1.20 WHIP with 42 strikeouts in 70 IP while battling the typical problems associated with returning from ligament replacement surgery. He saved his best for last, one hitting 16th ranked Long Beach State and Evan Longoria over eight innings in his final start for the first NCAA postseason win in school history. Zink was named to the All-Regional and Horizon League All-Tournament Teams, and finished his career second in school history in wins (24) and strikeouts (203) while placing fifth in ERA (3.32). He returned to his hometown Madison Mallards of the Northwoods League briefly over the summer.

Rated the 12th best draft prospect in the state by Baseball America, Zink lasted until the 17th round of the ’07 draft, when the Yanks selected him 544th overall. He signed quickly for a well-above slot $123,000 bonus and was assigned to Short Season Staten Island.

Pro Career
Zink worked mostly out of Staten Island’s bullpen after signing, although he did make five spot starts for the Baby Bombers. He worked 47.1 IP to the tune of a 3.23 ERA & 1.32 WHIP, leading the team with six wins. All told, Zink threw over 110 IP on the year despite having TJ just eleven months prior.

Assigned to Low-A Charleston in 2008, Zink worked out of the bullpen before moving to the rotation late in the year when promotions and injuries thinned the staff. He finished the year 3-2, 2.42 ERA, 1.10 WHIP in 25 appearances, and was dynamite in his four starts: 19 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 15 K. Zink ate up righthanders, holding them to a .177 batting avg against.

Scouting Report
Zink’s bread and butter is a heavy 89-91 mph sinker that he uses to pound the bottom third of the zone. The pitch is good enough that he can throw it 75-80% of the time and still succeed. He backs the sinker up with two solid secondary pitches: a slider and changeup. All of Zink’s pitches play up because of his strong command and outstanding control (2.15 BBper9 in college, 2.43 in ’08).

With a frame that is a scout’s dream, Zink stands 6’5″ and carries 210 lbs on his wide shoulders. He gained about 25 lbs during TJ rehab, and the extra weight hurt him mechanically when he returned, and also sapped some stamina. He worked hard in the offseason and lost the extra weight. A dogged competitor, Zink wants the ball every day and with the game on the line. Other than elbow surgery, he’s never had any injury problems.

2009 Outlook
Ready for High-A Tampa, Zink might get lost in the rotation crunch and start the year working out of the bullpen. However because he finished the year on such a high note as a starter, Zink may get a chance to hold down a rotation spot in Tampa if the Yanks send Zack McAllister to Double-A Trenton to start the year. If he has a strong second half, he should get a bump to Trenton.

My Take
I touted Zink as a very nice pick after the ’07 draft (forgive the eighteen month old typo), and have been plugging him as a sleeper since then. I’m a big fan; guys with lively sinkers and an 80 compete tool often make it too the bigs, at least as relievers. His ceiling isn’t high (back-end starter if it all works out), and he’ll turn 23 right around Opening Day, but Zink is a guy to keep an eye on next year. He’ll be Rule 5 Draft eligible after the season, so at the very least he should force the Yanks to think long and hard about leaving him exposed. My bad, he’s not R5 eligible until after 2010.

Categories : Prospect Profiles
  • Axl

    This is irrelevant but I have to ask somebody. I’ve seen on numerous message boards posts about the Yankees and Red Sox pulling off some sort of monster deal. What is this?!?

    Can anybody explain??

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      It’s a bunch of crap, that’s what it is.

      • pat

        Its nuckin futs yo!

    • UWS
      • I Remember Celerino Sanchez

        I doubt that Ruth guy amounted to anything anyway.

      • A.D.

        Don’t like the move, rather have the cash… that’s 1/3rd of BGs salary!!!

        • Mike Pop

          Heh, that is crazy to think about.

    • C.Panella

      How about a link to these message boards?

      • TurnTwo

        seriously… wtf are you talking about?

        • TurnTwo

          (meant for Axl)

  • A.D.

    Hope he gets a chance to start

  • A.D.

    Any good comparable for Zink?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      Not that I can think of. Maybe Mike Timlin?

    • KW

      Mark Hutton?

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Any good comparable for Zink?



      • 27 this year

        funny since right now I am taking chem in high school. BTW, it has been a while since you had any name drops…

        • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside


          That one’s just a bonus, I’m not even gonna charge you for that one. It’s on the house.

  • baseballnation

    Mike Timlin was a damn good set up guy for alot of years. If Zin proves to be that I’ll be more than happy.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      Yeah, I agree. I regretting writing that almost immediately.

    • Natalie

      So long as Jason Giambi’s retired, he’ll be money.

  • Reggie C.

    Would it be safe to say that Ryan Zink is behind a class of relievers on the depth chart, or do you see him become a fast-riser?

    The way it looks now, isn’t Zink behind these guys: Melancon, H. Sanchez, Phil Coke, Robertson, JB Cox, Whelan, Michael Dunn, and Kanekoa Texeira?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      Yep, he is behind those guys. But things can chance rather fast.

      • Reggie C.

        Just wondering … is Mike Dunn going to get a prospect profile? He’s on the 40 man.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

          I’m not sure. I have the next one already written up for the most part, and I have a few after that to hash out. I’ll keep him in mind.

          • Andy In Sunny Daytona

            When is the Melvin Croussett Profile going to be up?

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

              In the future.

              • Andy In Sunny Daytona

                Nice. I’ll hold my breath.

                • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  Andy In Sunny Daytona says:
                  When is the Melvin Croussett Profile going to be up?

                  Mike A. says:
                  In the future.

                  … SO YOU’RE SAYING THERE’S A CHANCE!!!!!!!

                • Andy In Sunny Daytona

                  You’re still bitter about Lyle Mouton.

                • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  I am. Remember the discussion the other day about me living in Nebraska and attending CWS games in person?

                  I saw Lyle Mouton in all his LSU glory. He was magnificent. And then, like that, he was a Yankee. This is the stuff that mancrushes are born from.

  • A.D.

    Will it be lack of primary pitch, or lack of secondary pitches that prevents Zink’s success. Since it doesn’t appear to be determination or control.

  • Tripp

    Is it possible he is sent back to Charleston to start the year in the rotation and then moved up to Tampa once someone is promoted to Trenton.

    Sounds like another Aceves. Doesn’t he throw a heavy sinker?

  • Tom Zig

    Did you guys ever do a profile on Betances? or Melancon? or JB Cox?

    • 27 this year

      He did one on Betances earlier, look to left sidebar under prospect profiles. I think he did one for Melancon also but I dont quite remeber.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      I have not done one for Betances. I did one for Melancon back at MVN, but it was lost after one of their several redesigns. My first ever post as a blogger was a JB Cox profile:


      That was a long ass time ago, so take it with a grain of salt.

      • Ryan S.

        I think every follower of the Yankee minor league system would be quite grateful if RAB were to do a prospect profile for Betances or Melancon. I don’t know nearly as much about either as I would like to.

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        That was a long ass time ago, so take it with a grain of salt.

        Sweet Mo, that was awful. Who wrote that, a team of monkeys? I’ve seen better prose from Hank Steinbrenner!

        Look at all those dangling participles! (No homo.)

        I need to go take a shower after reading that.

      • A.D.

        I enjoyed the Chris Malec profile.

  • http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=594331910&ref=name Jamal G.

    guys with… an 80 compete tool


    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside
      • Ryan S.

        Does that count as a name drop?

        • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          No. Sadly, there’s no way for me to work in juvenile jabs about Mike, Joe, Jamal, jsbrendog, and SAMIAMSPORTS having ineffective brains or tiny, pathetic genitalia in a stock internet photograph, so I can’t count that as a true name drop.

          That’s just a bonus track. I’ll include it on the Extras disc in the 10th Anniversary Special Edition Box Set of the thousand name drops.

  • A.D.

    Is De Leon suppose to come to the US this year?

  • Jay CT

    Don’t know where to post it but on MLBTR under Gammons having lots of interesting comments it shows his true feelings of the yanks getting Tex. He basically calls Tex a fraud.

    • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

      I can’t find it–link?

  • http://twitter.com/OldRanger Old Ranger

    I don’t see a need to pick-up another BP pitcher.
    We have about 15 guys that would help the bull pen…Zink could be another, BP pitcher (future).
    We even have more then enough SP; CC, AJ, CMW, Joba, Phil, Aceves, IPK, Coke and (Maybe) Andy. Who ever wins the 5th spot will be ok…and make the team much stronger. That could be a frightening rotation to face, 1 thru 5!

  • http://nyfaninboston.blogspot.com/ Manimal

    High A is going to be STACKED next year. I would be suprised if they lost a game.

    • Ryan S.

      And isn’t the AA team’s rotation going to be devastating as well?

  • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    “Zink grew up in the baseball … ahem … hotbed of Madison, WI, where he attended LaFollette High School. “

    Progressive bastard.

  • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    Hey, Mike, since Cashman’s gone on record saying Coke is in the starter camp for now, but hasn’t addressed Hungry Hungry Humberto, does that mean he’s still going to be a reliever, in your opinion, or are they still giving both of them 2008 starter auditions?

  • boreifs

    If he was drafted in 2007, he will not be eligible for Rule 5 until after the 2010 season. For college players, it is the “fourth” Rule 5 draft after signing.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      You’re right, my bad.

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