Tatusko ready for new opportunity

FRISCO, Texas – The Texas Rangers recently dealt pitcher Ryan Tatusko to the Washington Nationals in exchange for infielder Cristian Guzman. Lone Star Dugout caught up with the 25-year-old prospect as he prepared to head east.

The Texas Rangers recently dealt Double-A Frisco pitchers Ryan Tatusko and Tanner Roark to the Washington Nationals in exchange for infielder Cristian Guzman.

Tatusko was traded in part because of his upcoming roster dilemma. After this season, the 25-year-old will have played three full seasons in the minors and will be eligible for this December's Rule 5 Draft if he is not placed on the 40-man roster.

While Tatusko has broken out this season––to the tune of a 2.97 ERA in 100 innings at Double-A Frisco––the Rangers likely wouldn't have room to place him on the roster.

The Indiana State product has a better chance of being protected on the 40-man roster with the Nationals, particularly if he impresses down the stretch. And by trading Tatusko now, the Rangers are able to get a valuable big league chip for him instead of risking losing him for just $50,000 this offseason.

Tatusko entered the 2010 season as largely an organizational depth arm, but his stuff and command have taken steps forward, making him an intriguing prospect.

He now throws his fastball between 90-93 mph, reaching 94 and 95 mph at times. His arm action and natural cut provide some deception and make the pitch tough to square up. Though he isn't a strikeout artist, he has surrendered just two home runs in 100 innings while getting nearly 1.7 groundouts per flyout.

Lone Star Dugout recently took a closer look at Tatusko's stuff and progress in this this story.

The Nationals are having Tatusko report to Double-A Harrisburg. The 6-foot-5 hurler figures to spend the remainder of the season in the starting rotation while the club evaluates him and decides his eventual 40-man roster fate for this upcoming offseason.

Jason Cole: You heard your name floating in rumors before the trade was officially announced. What were your initial thoughts when you heard that? And what were your thoughts when you found out it was official?

Ryan Tatusko: Being traded is one of those things where you're always like, ‘Man, that'd be kind of cool if it happened to me. It'd be interesting to be in a new organization and doing new things.' But you never really do think it's going to happen to you. Then when it does, you kind of have a, ‘Holy cow,' reaction.

And when I first starting hearing that my name was going to be in the trade, I got really excited. Then it was just waiting. My name got released a little ahead of time––before Tanner's. I started having the feelings. With social media, Twitter, and things like that out there, my name was starting to float around a little bit.

I got really excited. This is an opportunity for me to go out there and prove my stuff to a new organization. The way I see it, this organization wanted me there for a reason. I want to go out there and prove to them that there's a big reason for me to be there. I want to take it as a reason to prove myself all over again.

Cole: From the time you were drafted to now, you've kind of played with the same guys all the way up the organizational ladder. How difficult is it to leave your teammates here in Frisco?

Tatusko: It's difficult because a lot of these guys are my close friends––guys like Brennan Garr and Marcus Lemon and guys like that. You live with them during the offseason, you live with them during Spring Training and during the season. It gets incredibly difficult to say goodbye to those guys.

But then again, you've got to see it as a professional matter and you've got to realize that for myself, I think I'm going somewhere better for myself professionally.

It was very weird to say goodbye to my best friend in the organization––Blake Beavan––when he left to go to the Mariners. And now we're both going to be on opposite sides of the country, competing in different leagues. It was a bittersweet moment both times.

Cole: You're going to Double-A Harrisburg. Going into it, how much do you know about the Nationals system, Harrisburg, and everything in general?

Tatusko: I'm going in there completely blind. I really don't know anything about it . The only real information I have about it is from when I was called by the minor league coordinator.

And then I talked to my buddy Drew Storen, who is the setup man and now closer for the Nationals. I talked to him about what to expect in Harrisburg, what the stadium is like, what the people are like, and things like that. Basically going off what he's telling me, it's a great situation and a great setup. He said it's a fun place to be with a great group of guys.

But as of right now, the Nationals are one of those teams that I really don't know much about, being a National League team. I'm going to go there with an open mind and take it from there.

Cole: Tell me about the conversation you had with Storen not long after the trade. I know you guys kind of grew up together in the Indianapolis area.

Tatusko: It's kind of weird how things come full-circle. We both grew up and played against each other in high school. We actually trained together all offseason last year with the same pitching instructor. We trained probably five days a week together, played catch together, and everything like that. Now, suddenly, I have a chance to hopefully be one of his teammates very soon.

The conversation was just him telling me congratulations and that the system is definitely an up-and-coming one. He said I'm getting there a little bit with the curve, and they're making a lot of moves to be contenders really soon. It's a very exciting team to be with with some very good fans. He said he was excited about the trade, wished me good luck, and told me to let him know when I got into Harrisburg.

Cole: You're basically pitching for a 40-man roster spot in Washington from here on out. How much motivation does that add on?

Tatusko: It's an extreme motivator for me. With the Rangers, I knew how deep the system was going to be. I knew the type of year that I was going to need to have to prove to the Rangers that I was capable of occupying a 40-man spot.

The Nationals are well-aware of how I have started. But it doesn't matter how well you start––it's how well you finish. If I'm in the rotation, I should have six or seven starts to prove to them that I'm capable of occupying a 40-man spot and hopefully contributing to the big club here very soon.

Cole: Aside from Drew Storen, do you know anybody in the system at all?

Tatusko: Tanner Roark. And Adam Fox. Other than those two former Rangers, I have no idea. It's going to be fun to meet some new friends.

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