Results tagged ‘ evan longoria ’
Colby Rasmus has been as controversial player as there is in the major leagues over the past few years (without committing a crime). An ultra-talented center fielder with plus power, great range, and a canon throwing arm, Rasmus has the potential to be the next great player. After a great 2010, Rasmus seemingly took a few steps back in his development, followed by a trade from St. Louis to Toronto.
Born in Columbus, Georgia, Rasmus moved to Phenix City, Alabama when he was young. In Phenix City, Rasmus was a star pitcher and first baseman in Little League, leading his Phenix City Little League team to the finals of the 1999 Little League World Series, losing to Hirakata (Japan) Little League in the finals.
After a great career at Russell County High School in Seale, Alabama, Rasmus was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round of the 2005 MLB draft, #28 overall. A number of very good players were selected prior to Rasmus, including Justin Upton (Arizona, 1st round/1st pick), Ryan Zimmerman (Washington, 1/4), Ryan Braun (Milwaukee, 1/5), Ricky Romero (Toronto, 1/6), Troy Tulowitzki (Colorado, 1/7), Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh, 1/11), Jacoby Ellsbury (1/23), and Matt Garza (Minnesota, 1/25). Rasmus signed for $1 million and was assigned to the Johnson City Cardinals, the Cardinals Rookie Level affiliate in the Appalachian League. Rasmus put up an impressive 296/362/514 line in 62 games in Johnson City.
In 2006, Rasmus who not ranked in Baseball America’s Top 100, was assigned to the Swing of the Quad Cities, the Cardinals’ A-level Midwest League affiliate, where he excelled. Rasmus was putting up a 310/373/512 line across 78 games for Quad Cities, when he was promoted to the Palm Beach Cardinals, the Cardinals’ High A affiliate in the Florida State League. In the notoriously pitcher-friendly Florida State League, Rasmus displayed power with a mature approach, putting up a 254/351/404 line as second youngest player in the Florida State League.
As a result of his excellent 2006 season, Rasmus’ stock skyrocketed, as Baseball America ranked him the #29 prospect, but Rasmus’ talent had only started to shine through. In 2007, Rasmus spent the year playing for the Springfield Cardinals of the AA Texas League, putting up a 275/381/551 line, showing significant development of his power with 37 doubles, 3 triples, and 29 home runs. Tulsa Drillers’ Manager, Stu Cole waxed poetic in discussing Rasmus’ ability:
“If there was a five-tool player in the league last year, Rasmus was the one. He brought everything to the table. If the ball was in the air, there was a chance you were going to see something exciting.”
In December 2007, the Cardinals dealt incumbent center fielder Jim Edmonds to the San Diego Padres for David Freese, clearing the way for Rasmus. Rasmus was ranked the #5 prospect by Baseball America (behind Jay Bruce, Evan Longoria, Joba Chamberlain, and Clay Buchholz), and prospect prognosticators praised his power, plate discipline, range in centerfield, and cannon throwing arm. Rasmus was invited to spring training and played reasonably well, but was sent to the Pacific Coast League’s Memphis Redbirds, where he immediately went into a deep offensive funk, hitting .186 through his first 172 at bats. Rasmus ended up with a respectable 251/346/396 line in 90 games for the Redbirds, missing time with a knee injury. Presciently, comments attached to his father, Tony, a former minor leaguer in the then-California Angels system, emerged, showing Tony’s disagreement with the actions of the Cardinals. Tony stated that the Cardinals were trying to alter Rasmus’ swing, publicly displaying a rift between the Rasmus family and the Cardinals.
Despite the lackluster season and the injury, Rasmus’ solid showing after the slow start and potential convinced Baseball America to rank him the #3 prospect, behind Matt Wieters and David Price. The Cardinals requested that Rasmus play winter ball to get additional at bats to get ready for the season, but Rasmus declined. Rasmus, apparently having never seen Crash Davis’ conversations with Nuke LaLoosh, reported to spring training asserting that he would go north with the Cardinals and could be the teams center fielder, irking a number of veterans including Rick Ankiel and Chris Duncan.
On Opening Day, Rasmus batted second and played right field (Ankiel was in center) and made a great debut – going 2/4 with a walk in his major league debut in the Cardinals’ 9-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Rasmus put up a solid 251/307/407 line in 2009, starting 104 games in centerfield while only starting 10 in left field and right field. Rasmus placed eighth in the Rookie of the Year Award vote (Chris Coghlan won) and was the inspiration for one of the greatest YouTube videos of all time:
Rasmus came into 2010 hoping to build on 2009 and exceeded expectations, putting up a 276/361/498 (132 OPS+) line. Rasmus began 2011 crushing the ball. After a 3/5 day against the Cubs on May 12, Rasmus goes into a tailspin, putting up a 194/282/377 line across 57 games until his late July trade to the Toronto Blue Jays. In early July, Cardinals’ Manager Tony La Russa said that “[w]hat [Rasmus is] working on is something that he thinks will help him and it comes from someplace else.” That “someplace else” was Rasmus’ father, Tony. While La Russa said that “it’s not unusual” for a player to seek familiar coaching, it was unusual to totally exclude the hitting instruction provided by the team, in this case Hitting Coach Mark McGwire.
The war of word continued between La Russa and Rasmus, culminating in a trade on July 27 with Trevor Miller, Brian Tallet, and P.J. Walters for Octavio Dotel, Edwin Jackson, Corey Patterson, and Marc Rzepczynski. Both sides seemed pleased with the deal, the Blue Jays picked up the ultra-talented Rasmus and the Cardinals picked up two solid bullpen arms, a starter, and a backup outfielder. It was the ultimate “change of scenery” trade.
While there is still a lot of time before we can fully judge the trade, it appears that St. Louis did much better than initially perceived. Rasmus put up a terrible 173/201/316 (37 OPS+) line over the final 35 games in the season, and has a 200/256/343 line (small sample size alert!) through 10 games in 2012. The Cardinals, however, caught fire after the trade, winning the Wild Card on the last day of the season and winning one of the most exciting World Series in recent memory.
How do we evaluate Rasmus? He’s still (somehow) only 25 and loaded with talent. Though reports have indicated decreased range, he still has the tools to be a middle-of-the-order hitter and center fielder. But how did Rasmus get here? Has he failed to actualize his talents? Are his father’s attempts to help hurting him? Is there another factor that is causing problems? No one seems to be quite sure – if anyone knew the problem they would be able to solve the problem. In the end Rasmus may figure it out and reach his potential or he make it onto the long list of ultra-talented players who had initial success in the Major Leagues but were unable to make the necessary adjustments.
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