Cubs draft Mizzou lefty Zastryzny in second round
Southpaw has four pitches, reaches mid-90s with fastball
CHICAGO -- The Cubs took a step toward improving their pitching by selecting Missouri left-hander Rob Zastryzny in the second round of the First-Year Player Draft on Thursday.
Zastryzny, the 41st player taken overall, compiled a 3.38 ERA in 13 starts, striking out 82 over 90 2/3 innings with the Tigers. He was 2-9, but Missouri averaged just 2.5 runs in his starts.
The 21-year-old southpaw ranks eighth all-time in Missouri history with 228 strikeouts. He notched a shutout against Georgia, one of three times he went the distance. In SEC play, Zastryzny struck out 58 over 62 innings. In 2012, the Canadian was the Tigers' top starter, and his outings included a 12-strikeout game against Oklahoma State.
He was a star in high school, going 26-4 with a 0.71 ERA and 299 strikeouts for Calallen High School in Corpus Christi, Texas. In his senior season, he went 17-1.
Last year, the Cubs selected high school outfielder Albert Almora in the first round, and then took pitchers with the next seven picks. This year, they tabbed San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant with the No. 2 overall pick, and may now turn their attention to pitching over the next two days in the Draft.
Day 2 of the Draft continues with Rounds 3-10, streamed live on MLB.com on Friday, beginning with a preview show at 11:30 p.m. CT. And Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at noon.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Zastryzny (pronounced ZAS-tris-knee) was projected by some as a possible first-round pick. Baseball America ranked him as the 12th-best left-hander available.
He told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that all 30 teams had contacted him prior to the Draft, and that he had extensive talks with the Yankees, Royals, Astros and Blue Jays.
"It's a little stressful," Zastryzny told the Post-Dispatch. "You don't know where you're going to spend your future in the league."
He does have one year of eligibility remaining at Missouri, but told the Post-Dispatch, "The way I'm going about it is if I get treated fairly, I'm going to sign and go immediately [to the pros]."
Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Zastryzny's family moved to Texas when he was 1 year old. He started as a pitcher and first baseman in high school, but switched to pitching only his junior year. Last spring, the lefty started the Big 12 tournament opener and championship game for Missouri.
He has four pitches -- fastball, changeup, slider and curve. At the SEC tournament, scouts clocked his fastball in the mid-90s.
There are three former Tigers pitchers who have reached the big leagues -- Detroit's Max Scherzer, the Royals' Aaron Crow and the Twins' Kyle Gibson. The Rangers tabbed Mizzou's Nick Tepesch in the 14th round in 2010.
"I'm just honored to be in the conversation," Zastryzny told the Post-Dispatch. "And I'm willing to prove I'm as good as them and that Mizzou still has great pitching."
Before the Draft, there were predictions that the Cubs would take which pitcher the Astros didn't with the No. 1 selection. Houston chose Stanford's Mark Appel, but the Cubs passed on power pitcher Jonathan Gray of Oklahoma, whom the Rockies took at No. 3.
"We talked a lot about acquiring pitching and getting power pitching, and those players are out there in this Draft, and they went one and three," Jason McLeod, vice president, scouting and player development, said of Appel and Gray. "Ultimately, we're going to make the decisions that we feel are best for this organization both in the short and long term, and Kris Bryant was the player for us when we made that pick."
McLeod didn't feel Gray's status changed after reports that he tested positive for the medication Adderall during baseball's pre-Draft drug testing program. The positive test will not result in a suspension, but it will make Gray subject to additional follow-up testing once he begins his pro career. Adderall is banned by MLB unless a player has a valid-use exemption.
"Obviously, it was something that wasn't expected to come up," McLeod said of the test results. "We looked pretty deep into that. Ultimately, it didn't affect how we felt about him as a player and as a person. That really had no bearing on it, other than we had to do more due diligence on it and figure more things out. We certainly wish health and success to Jon. He was very open with us. The Rockies got themselves a very talented player."