Top 50 Scouting Report: #4 RHP Brant Rustich

The New York Mets selected the tall right-hander in the second round of the 2007 MLB Draft out of UCLA. A natural physical specimen, Rustich has the tools and ability to fill any number of roles as the organization sees fit, which could shorten his track to the big leagues. Here is a scouting report on Brooklyn reliever Brant Rustich.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Brant Rustich
DOB: January 23, 1985
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 225
Throws: Right
Bats: Right

On draft day last June, it was widely known that the former UCLA flamethrower was one of the most naturally gifted talents who sat atop many clubs' draft boards. Already armed with a deep, well-polished repertoire, Brant Rustich's eventual destination was just a matter of which team would jump at the chance to inherit his anticipated bright future—but there was a risk involved.

Rustich appeared in just six games during his junior season before a ligament injury in his finger and successive surgery forced him to essentially re-learn how to throw many of pitches. Then in his senior year, he struggled mightily with his command and compiled pedestrian results including 3-2 record, 6.67 ERA and 20 walks in 29.2 innings pitched. Therefore, it seemed whoever snagged Rustich, was pressing their luck. The Mets, hungry for a big live arm who can succeed late, tabbed Rustich soon after selecting Eddie Kunz with their first overall pick.

Immediately, Rustich knew a spot within the Mets organization provided him an opportunity to demonstrate his natural skills when healthy.

"The big goal was to stay healthy and try to get better physically. I was hurt in 2005, I had the surgery, it took about a year to be completely pain free, and there were times where I wondered if I could get to the level to be at to perform at the pro level," Rustich admitted.

"I didn't have a pretty year statistically my last year in school, but things started coming around. By draft time I was pain free and I'm thankful for the Mets, the chances they have given me and how they used me," he continued.

When the short-seasons got underway, the Mets sent Rustich to Kingsport, but it did not take long for coaches to see Appalachian League hitters were clearly overmatched. In 10.1 innings pitched [five games], he surrendered only one earned run while striking out ten and walking one. Perhaps the most important factor of his stay with the K-Mets was the two starts he made. Although the starts were brief, it gave coordinators and scouts a glimpse at what could be a future role for Rustich. For him, it was an opportunity to get back out there and rediscover his belief in his game.

" I didn't stay in Kingsport long, but it was a good to build up my confidence like I did there," he said. "I was throwing strikes, throwing my fastball a lot more than I did in college and my velocity and command of my fastball was a lot better. I was being aggressive and everything was just working better because I didn't have to nurse my finger or worry about pain."

After his impressive start, it was off to Brooklyn where he played an intricate part of the Cyclones' deep bullpen as the squad held on for a division title. Rustich was even more exciting at the next level, where he posted a 2-0 record with 11 more strikeouts and a .095 opponent's batting average in 12.2 NY-Penn League innings. More than numbers, the explosion in his arsenal truly pleased Rustich because he could finally silence his critics who believed his poor command was indicative of his greater game.

"People assumed that I had bad command to begin with, but it was really a matter of feel and how I felt physically. When I got to pro ball, I felt great physically every time I took the mound so it wasn't really a mechanical thing. My mechanics even in college were very polished and ready for pro ball and I think my colleges a lot for that. It was all a matter of staying healthy and pitching healthy," he explained.

With his achievements in a relief role at both stops last season, Rustich demonstrated the poise and tenacity to excel in the bullpen. Moving forward, speculation and inquisition will remain as to whether he will stay in that role or move into a rotation. Though Rustich would prefer to stay in the bullpen because it would shorten his stay on the farm, he will not rule out starting.

"I know the Mets have asked me at times if I wanted some starts, and I know that isn't a dead issue. I also know our pitching coordinator is very interested in seeing me as a starter considering I have three very good pitches and the size and durability wanted in a started," he recounted.

"I guess I'd rather stay in the relief role because it will get me there quicker, but whatever the Mets want to do I'm okay with. I haven't started in quite some time, but if I could get into shape in order to start, that'd be great too. It's also a matter of being successful in the starter's role, and I want to be successful if I'm going to fit into that role. But really I just want to do what it takes to get to the big leagues as soon as possible," he detailed.

Regardless of his future role, the Mets landed a prized arm. Rustich possesses very refined mechanics, three above average to plus pitches with possibly a fourth on the horizon, yet the most significant development of his season was proven consistency. When taking stock on the season that past, Rustich feels extremely confident about the position he finds himself going into the spring.

"I think I had a great year, and I was healthy which made it even better. I think I made a good impression within the organization and did the right things to help me grow for next year and on the right direction of where I want to ultimately go.," he closed.

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

2007

Brooklyn

2-0

2

12.2

4

1

11

2.13

2007

Kingsport

1-0

0

10.1

6

1

10

0.87


Repertoire: Fastball, Slider, Changeup:

Fastball: Rustich slings as hard of a fastball as any pitcher in the entire organization. He uses his four-seam fastball, which can sit anywhere from 94-97 MPH, to start off at-bats and to set up his other pitches. Much of his game success is determined by his ability to locate the pitch at the start of at-bats, making its consistency paramount. When he does work his way into a favorable count, he will typically go to his two-seam fastball that he throws with similar velocity. The two-seamer sinks hard down and in to right-handers and away to lefties. Its effectiveness gives Rustich the option of blowing hitters away or inducing groundballs to get out of tight situations. Contrary to public perception, he does not throw a split-finger fastball.

Other Pitches: Rustich can buckle the knees of hitters with his big, hard-breaking slider which he throws in the upper-80s. He can throw the pitch in the bottom half of the zone with a furious snap that fools hitters, making them swing over the top of it, and its electricity makes it his favored strikeout pitch. It is his most consistent pitch, but will usually only throw it when ahead in the count. Lastly, he throws a dynamic changeup in the mid to high-80s with terrific late movement which led many to believe it was a splitter because of its velocity and sharp drop. He has excellent arm action when he throws it and looks like a fastball when it leaves his hand. As a reliever, he did not frequently throw his changeup last year, relying more on his fastball and slider, but that should change as the organization would like to see him throw it more often.

Pitching: Rustich is not one to play guessing games with hitters. His velocity and plus movement gives him the utmost confidence in his repertoire and the ability to go right after hitters. He prefers to work quickly and deliberately by forcing hitters to swing than allowing them to pick their pitch. There is still work to be done with his fastball location, but he showed strong overall command during his rookie season.

Projection: The Mets could go either way with Rustich, electing to use him as a setup man or possible closer in the future, or as a starter thanks to his good stamina and consistently maturing repertoire. His velocity and plus-slider obviously make him a reliable choice for the back end of the bullpen, but with three very strong pitches and a fourth (curveball) on the horizon in coming years, the Mets have not ruled out the possibility that he will be a starter at the big league level. As he works his way up the ladder, he should see additional time in the starter's role. If the organization elects to keep him as a reliever, his rise to the big leagues should be fairly quick. If the organization decides to make him a starter, his arrival with the Mets would be at a later date.

ETA: 2010. Again, if he stays in a relief role, his debut with the Mets could come as early as the second half of the 2009 season. However, if the Mets convert him into a full-time starter, that should push him back one more season. We will stay on the conservative side and predict the latter. After a successful summer in Kingsport and Brooklyn, he will start the new season in St. Lucie at the least, but should enter camp with a shot at making the Binghamton roster outright.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nVital Statistics:
\r\nName: Brant Rustich
\r\nDOB: January 23, 1985
\r\nHeight: 6'6\"
\r\nWeight: 225
\r\nThrows: Right
\r\nBats: Right
\r\n
\r\nOn draft day last June, it was widely known that the former UCLA flamethrower was one of the most naturally gifted talents who sat atop many clubs' draft boards. Already armed with a deep, well-polished repertoire, Brant Rustich's eventual destination was just a matter of which team would jump at the chance to inherit his anticipated bright future—but there was a risk involved.
\r\n
\r\nRustich appeared in just six games during his junior season before a ligament injury in his finger and successive surgery forced him to essentially re-learn how to throw many of pitches. Then in his senior year, he struggled mightily with his command and compiled pedestrian results including 3-2 record, 6.67 ERA and 20 walks in 29.2 innings pitched. Therefore, it seemed whoever snagged Rustich, was pressing their luck. The Mets, hungry for a big live arm who can succeed late, tabbed Rustich soon after selecting Eddie Kunz with their first overall pick.
\r\n
\r\nImmediately, Rustich knew a spot within the Mets organization provided him an opportunity to demonstrate his natural skills when healthy.
\r\n
\r\n\"The big goal was to stay healthy and try to get better physically. I was hurt in 2005, I had the surgery, it took about a year to be completely pain free, and there were times where I wondered if I could get to the level to be at to perform at the pro level,\" Rustich admitted.
\r\n
\r\n\"I didn't have a pretty year statistically my last year in school, but things started coming around. By draft time I was pain free and I'm thankful for the Mets, the chances they have given me and how they used me,\" he continued.
\r\n
\r\nWhen the short-seasons got underway, the Mets sent Rustich to Kingsport, but it did not take long for coaches to see Appalachian League hitters were clearly overmatched. In 10.1 innings pitched [five games], he surrendered only one earned run while striking out ten and walking one. Perhaps the most important factor of his stay with the K-Mets was the two starts he made. Although the starts were brief, it gave coordinators and scouts a glimpse at what could be a future role for Rustich. For him, it was an opportunity to get back out there and rediscover his belief in his game.
\r\n
\r\n\" I didn't stay in Kingsport long, but it was a good to build up my confidence like I did there,\" he said. \"I was throwing strikes, throwing my fastball a lot more than I did in college and my velocity and command of my fastball was a lot better. I was being aggressive and everything was just working better because I didn't have to nurse my finger or worry about pain.\"
\r\n
\r\nAfter his impressive start, it was off to Brooklyn where he played an intricate part of the Cyclones' deep bullpen as the squad held on for a division title. Rustich was even more exciting at the next level, where he posted a 2-0 record with 11 more strikeouts and a .095 opponent's batting average in 12.2 NY-Penn League innings. More than numbers, the explosion in his arsenal truly pleased Rustich because he could finally silence his critics who believed his poor command was indicative of his greater game.
\r\n
\r\n\"People assumed that I had bad command to begin with, but it was really a matter of feel and how I felt physically. When I got to pro ball, I felt great physically every time I took the mound so it wasn't really a mechanical thing. My mechanics even in college were very polished and ready for pro ball and I think my colleges a lot for that. It was all a matter of staying healthy and pitching healthy,\" he explained.
\r\n
\r\nWith his achievements in a relief role at both stops last season, Rustich demonstrated the poise and tenacity to excel in the bullpen. Moving forward, speculation and inquisition will remain as to whether he will stay in that role or move into a rotation. Though Rustich would prefer to stay in the bullpen because it would shorten his stay on the farm, he will not rule out starting.
\r\n
\r\n\"I know the Mets have asked me at times if I wanted some starts, and I know that isn't a dead issue. I also know our pitching coordinator is very interested in seeing me as a starter considering I have three very good pitches and the size and durability wanted in a started,\" he recounted.
\r\n
\r\n\"I guess I'd rather stay in the relief role because it will get me there quicker, but whatever the Mets want to do I'm okay with. I haven't started in quite some time, but if I could get into shape in order to start, that'd be great too. It's also a matter of being successful in the starter's role, and I want to be successful if I'm going to fit into that role. But really I just want to do what it takes to get to the big leagues as soon as possible,\" he detailed.
\r\n
\r\nRegardless of his future role, the Mets landed a prized arm. Rustich possesses very refined mechanics, three above average to plus pitches with possibly a fourth on the horizon, yet the most significant development of his season was proven consistency. When taking stock on the season that past, Rustich feels extremely confident about the position he finds himself going into the spring.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think I had a great year, and I was healthy which made it even better. I think I made a good impression within the organization and did the right things to help me grow for next year and on the right direction of where I want to ultimately go.,\" he closed.
\r\n
\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n
\r\n

Year

\r\n

\r\n Team

\r\n

\r\n W-L

\r\n

\r\n SV

\r\n

\r\n IP

\r\n

\r\n Hits

\r\n

\r\n BB

\r\n

K

\r\n

\r\n ERA

\r\n

\r\n 2007

\r\n

\r\n Brooklyn

\r\n

\r\n 2-0

\r\n

\r\n 2

\r\n

\r\n 12.2

\r\n

\r\n 4

\r\n

\r\n 1

\r\n

\r\n 11

\r\n

\r\n 2.13

\r\n

\r\n 2007

\r\n

\r\n Kingsport

\r\n

\r\n 1-0

\r\n

\r\n 0

\r\n

\r\n 10.1

\r\n

\r\n 6

\r\n

\r\n 1

\r\n

\r\n 10

\r\n

\r\n 0.87


\r\nRepertoire: Fastball, Slider, Changeup:
\r\n
\r\nFastball: Rustich slings as hard of a fastball as any pitcher in the entire organization. He uses his four-seam fastball, which can sit anywhere from 94-97 MPH, to start off at-bats and to set up his other pitches. Much of his game success is determined by his ability to locate the pitch at the start of at-bats, making its consistency paramount. When he does work his way into a favorable count, he will typically go to his two-seam fastball that he throws with similar velocity. The two-seamer sinks hard down and in to right-handers and away to lefties. Its effectiveness gives Rustich the option of blowing hitters away or inducing groundballs to get out of tight situations. Contrary to public perception, he does not throw a split-finger fastball.
\r\n
\r\nOther Pitches: Rustich can buckle the knees of hitters with his big, hard-breaking slider which he throws in the upper-80s. He can throw the pitch in the bottom half of the zone with a furious snap that fools hitters, making them swing over the top of it, and its electricity makes it his favored strikeout pitch. It is his most consistent pitch, but will usually only throw it when ahead in the count. Lastly, he throws a dynamic changeup in the mid to high-80s with terrific late movement which led many to believe it was a splitter because of its velocity and sharp drop. He has excellent arm action when he throws it and looks like a fastball when it leaves his hand. As a reliever, he did not frequently throw his changeup last year, relying more on his fastball and slider, but that should change as the organization would like to see him throw it more often.
\r\n
\r\nPitching: Rustich is not one to play guessing games with hitters. His velocity and plus movement gives him the utmost confidence in his repertoire and the ability to go right after hitters. He prefers to work quickly and deliberately by forcing hitters to swing than allowing them to pick their pitch. There is still work to be done with his fastball location, but he showed strong overall command during his rookie season.
\r\n
\r\nProjection: The Mets could go either way with Rustich, electing to use him as a setup man or possible closer in the future, or as a starter thanks to his good stamina and consistently maturing repertoire. His velocity and plus-slider obviously make him a reliable choice for the back end of the bullpen, but with three very strong pitches and a fourth (curveball) on the horizon in coming years, the Mets have not ruled out the possibility that he will be a starter at the big league level. As he works his way up the ladder, he should see additional time in the starter's role. If the organization elects to keep him as a reliever, his rise to the big leagues should be fairly quick. If the organization decides to make him a starter, his arrival with the Mets would be at a later date.
\r\n
\r\nETA: 2010. Again, if he stays in a relief role, his debut with the Mets could come as early as the second half of the 2009 season. However, if the Mets convert him into a full-time starter, that should push him back one more season. We will stay on the conservative side and predict the latter. After a successful summer in Kingsport and Brooklyn, he will start the new season in St. Lucie at the least, but should enter camp with a shot at making the Binghamton roster outright.
\r\n
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