Rusin signs with Chicago Cubs

CHICAGO -- Former Kentucky standout starting pitcher Chris Rusin has signed to play professional baseball with the Chicago Cubs, he announced earlier this week.

"It is a great experience for me to get drafted by such a historic franchise as the Chicago Cubs," Rusin said. "They don't have too many left-handed pitchers in their organization so hopefully if I do my part, I will be able to move up the ladder quickly."

Rusin, who was selected 140th overall in the fourth round of the 2009 MLB Draft, went 7-4 for Kentucky in 2009 with a 4.20 ERA. The native of Canton, Mich., pitched four complete games on the year, including a complete game six hitter against 2009 College World Series Champion LSU Tigers.

"Coach Henderson and the Kentucky coaching staff helped me develop a ton as a person and as an athlete," said Rusin. "I thank them for all that they have done for me. They have prepared me well for my future in baseball and for me to play as long as possible."

For his four-year career, the 2008 first-team All-SEC member has the second most strikeouts in Kentucky history (274) and ranks tied for fourth for the most games started in a single career at Kentucky (45). A 6-foot-2, 195-pounder, Rusin also ranks among the school career leaders in wins (2nd; 23) and innings pitched (3rd; 302.1). Rusin had a breakout season in 2008, earning a 6-3 record and a 3.33 ERA, becoming UK's first, first-team All-SEC starting pitcher since Toronto Blue Jays closer Scott Downs in 1997.

"My coaching staff and I are extremely happy for Chris to get the opportunity to continue his baseball career," said UK head coach Gary Henderson. "Chris has meant a lot to this program over the last four years. He was a great competitor for the Wildcats who led by example, worked very hard and improved his game every year. He had a presence and a poise that we would like all of our players to have. There is no doubt in my mind he will be successful in professional baseball. We wish him the best as he moves forward with his career."

Rusin was a major part of the Kentucky pitching staff in 2009 that set an all-time strikeout record for a single season. Kentucky pitchers posted 523 strikeouts this season, beating the old mark of 502.

Rusin becomes the fifth Kentucky player in the last three seasons who was drafted after their junior season but decided to return to school to improve their draft status. Former Kentucky catcher Sean Coughlin was drafted 42nd in 2006 but after another season at Kentucky was drafter in the 13th round in 2007. In 2008, three Kentucky players improved their draft status. Kentucky All-Americans Sawyer Carroll and Collin Cowgill along with hard throwing pitcher Scott Green each moved up 10 rounds in the draft. Carroll was drafted in the 18th round in 2007 but third in 2008, Cowgill was drafted 29th in 2007 but fifth in 2008 and Green was drafted 15th in 2007 but third in 2008. In the 2008 MLB Draft, Rusin was drafted in the 23rd round by the Oakland Athletics, improving his draft status by 19 rounds.

He has joined the Mesa Cubs, a rookie league team in Mesa, Ariz. He is expected to join the roster immediately following results of a physical.

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