Spring Roundup: Robert Ransom

Robert Ransom has spent time in many a big city throughout his young baseball career. Among the stops on the 2003 23rd-round draft pick's resume are Atlanta (his hometown), Nashville (where he attended college), and the White House.

Last year, Ransom played at three different levels of the Cubs' farm system in his rookie season: Daytona, Fla., in high Class-A ball, Lansing, Mich., in Mid-A, and even briefly in Double-A at West Tennessee.

So, were all the scenery changes hard for the right-hander to cope with?

"No, not really," he said. "Obviously I wanted to stay in Double-A, or at Daytona, but I knew from the very beginning that the organization wanted me to go to Lansing. I don't believe it was all that hard, though it was certainly frustrating at times. You're in one place for a while and then all of a sudden you're leaving again."

Ransom spent the bulk of his season at Lansing where in 11 games, including nine starts, he went 5-2 with a solid 2.47 ERA. After a brief promotion to West Tenn that saw him make one start and surrender two earned runs in 3 2/3 innings, he would later go on to pitch in five games for Daytona.

"I worked on getting better this spring," Ransom said. "I recently had to shut down my throwing for a couple of weeks due to my shoulder. No big deal. That's about all my spring has consisted of."

Ransom will start the season rehabbing in Mesa. He finished up college at Vanderbilt in 2003, going 4-3 with a 4.08 ERA in 15 starts his final season there. He struck out 74 and walked 32. While a member of the Commodores, he also pitched two summers in the Cape Cod League.

"I had my reasons for going there both years," Ransom said. "For a college athlete, one of the main reasons is there are a lot of major league scouts there. But I went the second time because I was still negotiating with the Cubs after I had been drafted and they wanted to see me play a little more before they finalized my contract."

Ransom has always had a knack for the strikeout. He fanned 54 and walked only 12 a year ago. In his final season at Vandy, he averaged over seven strikeouts per nine innings. Indeed, poor control is not Ransom's vocabulary, he admits.

"Once you get to this level - and I realize this after talking to some of the major league guys - it's not about how hard you throw, but how many strikes you throw," said Ransom. "I just concentrate on hitting my spots, which is really what it's all about.

"I don't throw anything that's really going to overpower anybody, but I do get a little bit of sink on my pitches and I am fairly over the top. I have a good changeup and curveball."

When asked to name the out-pitch in his arsenal, Ransom said, "I would have to say my changeup. You know, last year I was having a little bit of trouble with it, but most of it came from having to adjust to a new schedule and also to the fact that I had a minor setback with my arm.

"The changeup is usually my bread and butter pitch, but last year I seemed to rely on my fastball quite a bit. I just went up there and threw fastballs by a lot of hitters."

With Ransom starting the season in extended spring training, he says there is plenty more to do than just sitting around when he's not pitching. For one, he is scheduled to start a Spanish class in the next several days. "I just like to keep busy and keep myself out of trouble," said Ransom.

As for what he does off the field when he's not striking hitters out, Ransom has a devout passion for politics. He is a regular contributor to the National Republican Congressional Committee in Washington.

"I stayed up there and worked with the inauguration of the president in January," Ransom said. "I was with various Republican Congressional members including the Speaker of the House (Dennis Hastert), but nothing beyond the point of shaking hands. I did get to go to the White House, though, so it was definitely a great experience."

Ransom hopes his next great experience will come on the mound some time in 2005.

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