Name: Rob Zastryzny, P
Age: 22 (3/26/1992)
How acquired: Drafted in 2nd round 2013, # 41 overall, out of the University of Missouri. Scouted by Ty Nichols.
Daytona Cubs, Florida State League, High A (23 G, 4-6, 4.66 ERA, 110 IP, 33 BB, 110 K, 1.40 WHIP)
Prior to Cubs
Despite going 17-1 with a 0.20 ERA and 198 strikeouts his senior year at Calallen High School in Corpus Christi, and being named 2010 All-South Texas Pitcher of the Year, the lefty went undrafted and headed to the University of Missouri. He made 15 starts his freshman year and earned All-Big 12 freshman honors going 2-5 with a 4.33 ERA. As a sophomore, he was Missouri’s top pitcher, sporting a 5-5 mark with a 3.80 ERA and 76 punchouts in 109 innings. The Friday night starter as a junior, Zastryzny went 2-9 with a 3.38 ERA but the Tigers only averaged 2.5 runs per game in his 13 starts. He tossed 90.2 innings with 92 strikeouts, three complete games, and 24 walks. Here’s more on Zastryzny at Missouri including comments from his coaches.
With already close to 100 innings on his arm, the Cubs had Zastryzny on a short leash in his first pro season as he made 11 appearances (24 IP) but only went over three innings once. He made his pro debut July 7 for Boise, working a scoreless inning with two strikeouts. He had a 3.14 ERA in 8 appearances – seven starts with a line of 14.1 IP, 15 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 16 K, .268 BAA. He was promoted to Kane County on Aug. 7 and made three relief appearances for the Cougars, earning his first pro win throwing three shutout innings against Burlington. He allowed one run in 9.2 IP in the MWL with 6K and 4BB. In his 24 innings between the two levels, he had a 8:22 BB/K ratio, a 2.25 ERA, and a .264 BAA.
Zastryzny got knocked around pretty good his first two months of the season (9 starts), and after giving up five runs against Palm Beach in his final outing of May, sported a 7.57 ERA and opponents were hitting .344/.390/.594. Instead of sending the lefty to another level to gain some confidence and find some success, they kept the 22-year-old in Daytona to fight it out. He made 14 more starts over the final three months, and while his season totals aren’t impressive, he did show progress, with a 3.27 ERA and a slash line of .241/.311/.365 in 74.1 innings. I don’t know how else to put it, Zastryzny was terrible in the first inning with an ERA over 9.00. Of the 58 runs he allowed, 24 (all earned) came in the first inning and five times he gave up three or more runs to start a game. He said in an interview with D-Cubs radio that he tried everything during year, including simulating pithing an inning in the bullpen after his regular warmup routine.
After battling through his first full season in High A, Zastryzny should start the season in AA. The left-hander needs to solve his first innings woes and I’m thinking they will be a thing of the past by season’s end. The Cubs thought enough of Zastryzny’s arm and his maturity on the mound to essentially skip low A, something they haven’t done with any of their pitchers since Theo Epstein took over baseball operations. There’s not really a consensus top pitching prospect behind Pierce Johnson and C.J. Edwards, and Zastryzny could impress enough in ’15 to be that guy. His fastball sits in the low 90s and he has good command over a curve and change-up.