Prospect Profile: Evan Rutckyj

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Evan Rutckyj | LHP

Born and raised in Windsor, Ontario, Rutckyj (pronounced Root-ski) did what most Canadians do as a kid and played hockey, getting drafted by the Barrie Colts (a junior team) in the 11th round of the 2008 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection (i.e draft). He also boxed during the summers. Rutckyj gave up hockey in high school and focused on baseball, transitioning from the outfield to the mound as a sophomore. He worked with the Canadian junior national team as well as a private pitching coach leading up the draft.

Baseball America ranked Rutckyj as the second best Canadian prospect and 193rd best prospect overall for the 2010 draft this spring, though rumors of a first round bonus demand scored teams away. Rutckyj slipped to the 16th round of the draft, when the Yankees happily grabbed him 505th overall. After two months of negotiations with Rutckyj and advisor Dan Lawson, the two sides agreed to a contract that included a $500,000 signing bonus and a $155,000 education package.

Pro Debut
The Yankees assigned Rutckyj to their rookie level Gulf Coast League affiliate after signing, where he appeared in just one game. He retired all three batters he faced, recording a grounder and two fly balls.

Scouting Report
Big and tall at 6-foot-5 and 213 lbs., the 18-year-old Rutckyj is a power-armed left-hander. His fastball sat 88-91 in the spring and touched 93, though he projects to add some more oomph once he fills out and getting his mechanics cleaned up. Rutckyj’s out pitch is a sweepy slider in the low-80’s, but he has a long way to go to gain consistency with it. His changeup is borderline non-existent, so there’s a lot of work to be done there.

Because he’s so big and relatively new to pitching, Rutckyj’s delivery can get out of whack rather easily. Professional instruction will go a long way towards helping him develop a consistent motion, which will in turn help his command. Rutckyj is perhaps too in shape; his tightly wound frame doesn’t allow for much flexibility. As cliche as it is, he takes a hockey mentality out to the mound with him, so there’s no fear.

Here is Rutckyj’s draft video plus another clip from the Under Armour All America Showcase.

2011 Outlook
Rutckyj is very raw and inexperienced, so the Yankees will hold in back in Extended Spring Training before assigning him to a short season league when the seasons start in June. I fully expect him to return to the GCL, though Short Season Staten Island isn’t completely out of the question.

My Take
I’m a fan. Anytime you grab a big power arm, especially left-handed, that late in the draft, it’s a coup. Rutckyj certainly has a lot of work to do and a very long way to go, but the tools are there for success. The ceiling is considerable, but so is the risk. For $500,000, a touch more than Ramiro Pena will earn next season, there’s not much more you can ask of the Yankees with their late picks.

Using your best trade chip for only the best
The obligatory "Injured Pitchers" post
  • Dick Whitman

    No matter how much I try, I don’t get root-ski from Rutckyj.

    • ryan

      its Rut-Check

    • Jake LaMotta’s Left Hook

      I’ve always pronounced it “Root-Keesh”


    • Accent Shallow

      I’m just thankful that if he ever makes the show, the Yankees don’t have names on the back of their jerseys.

      • Dick Whitman

        I hope he does make it, just to have Francesa pronounce his name.

        • Ghost of Scott Brosius

          Jason Hirsh?? Who’s that, your buddy there with you?

        • Plank

          Rutckyj has fungibility. He is unique.


  • Frank

    Mike, speaking of prospects, Andrew Miller is sitting there as a FA after Boston released him, yet no one has jumped on him. Is there a health issue with this guy or is he just demanding too much $$? Otherwise, I think the Yanks should jump on him.

    • JGS

      I think it’s more of a “he kinda sucks” issue.

      He’s still young, but he also has almost 300 big league innings on his resume and a 5.84 ERA and 1.736 WHIP for his career, and his strikeout rate actually went down when he went to the NL.

  • Andy In Sunny Daytona

    I would love to see Rutckyj make big strides this year. I’m real excited that the Yankees added another potentially powerful lefty arm.

  • vin

    It’s funny how one’s mental picture of a person can vary from what they actually look like. For some reason, I pictured him as being a Jeff Beukeboom-looking dude. Big and “country strong.” I was definitely excited when they signed him… didn’t think it would happen.

    • Steve H

      He looks more like Chris Sale.

  • Bulldozer

    He looks like Christian Bale from his skinny movies (The Machinist & the new one with Marky Mark).

    • Shaun

      That’s what I thoughgt

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      He’s not as skinny as this picture makes him look.

  • Thomas

    From the videos, it looks like he needs to work on his follow-through (it seems very half-hearted).

    Also what was the deal with the 70s porno-esque music in the MLB scouting report video? Weird.

  • A.D.

    Similar type of project/upside and Betances was when he was drafted?

    • K.B.D.

      Rutckyj definitely a project in the mold of Betances, but Dellin had more raw upside at the same age. He threw harder, with a bigger frame and greater athleticism.

      • Reggie C.

        Be careful with your analyses of Rutckyj’s athleticism. Betances has never been lauded for his athleticism, and he never was a two-sport athlete. Betances destroyed inferior HS pitching on the way to a full scholarship offer from some SEC school, but that was simply bc he could throw a great 4-seamer from the get-go.

        Rutckyj sounds like he gave up a promising hockey career. I’m definitely giving the edge to Rutckyj in athleticism.

        • Willy

          But he’s white… he can’t be athletic.

          • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

            He is also tall so he can’t be gritty. Not much left. Was he at least a punter in college?

            • Rick in Boston

              Hockey player counts for something, right?

              • RollingWave

                on with when they have grit beards, something the kid doesn’t have (yet) and is unlikely to with the yankees

        • K.B.D.

          Dellin Betances was a very good basketball player at Grand Street, but dropped the sport because he wanted to focus on baseball which he felt held a better future for him.

  • Jake LaMotta’s Left Hook

    I’m glad he chose baseball, but damn does he have a body built for hockey. Either sport, actually, a 6-5 lefty in baseball could be legit scary.

    Here’s a cool little pre-draft article about Rutckyj for anyone interested:

    ““I have been coaching 28 years, and I have never seen anyone like this, and I might not see anyone like this again.”

    “Last month, he retired Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill three times — on a pop up, a ground out and a strike out — in a simulated game while Hill was in Florida on a rehab assignment.” (Not like that was hard, after Hill’s 2010 season, but still…)

    “He has no mileage on him. He’s basically pitched about 80 innings in the last year and a half. His arm is fresh, his arm is live, and everyone is in love with his athleticism, his ability to grasp what he’s taught, and also the fact that he’s left-handed.”

    • Accent Shallow

      So he’s never really pitched before?

      That’s either a major blessing, or we’ll find out his tendons/ligaments/etc aren’t built for pitching. . .

      • Jake LaMotta’s Left Hook

        Well, in the profile it says that he converted from the outfield to the mound. Add the fact, that he was a two-sport athlete, who just began to focus on baseball, and that he is an athletic monster apparently… I think that sounds really good.

  • Jorge

    I always love a good lottery ticket.

  • Chris

    I find it ironic that the Canadian prospect is wearing an “All-America” jersey.

    • UWS

      Well, Canadia IS in (North) America, you know.

    • ryan

      Canada is in North America..

    • Jake LaMotta’s Left Hook

      Players like Rutckyj, who actually have a chance to be drafted, usually play in prospect tournaments all over the country. The Under Armour All-America showcase was held in Wrigley this year I believe, and Rutckyj was extended an invite, which I am sure many other Canadian baseball players get considering the proximity to the United States.

      Now, if it said ‘All-American‘, instead of ‘All-America’… that is a different story. I have never heard of an athlete outside of the United States get All-American in anything.

    • LawStudent

      Is Canada not an American state?

      (Obligatory Canada joke)

  • Chris G.

    Well, if worse comes to worse, he’s just another Nik Turley, but it sounds like he’s got more potential, and, at least, the makings of a second pitch.

  • Dale Mohorcic

    What’s an education package?

    • Jake LaMotta’s Left Hook

      Pay for college, assuming he doesn’t make it to the show.

    • Am I the only Kevin?

      Cash to go to college should he bomb out (i.e., replaces the full scholarship he loses by going pro).

    • Mike Axisa

      It’s just money for college, pretty standard in these contracts. It’s just rare that we get the full details. A lot of these kids take classes during the fall and winter when the season ends.

  • yankees1717

    just warning people, BE PATIENT WITH THIS KID, he’s a project like brackman except less polished, so if he struggles this year don’t write him off

  • C.R.

    He’s a great kid. Know him personally. Hard worker! Expect big things from him.