Freshman Rob Zastrynzy delivers a pitch against Le Moyne Friday. (Photo by Chris Spurlock)
Prior to opening day for Mizzou baseball, junior college transfer Matt Stites was generating the most buzz among those looking at the Tigers’ starting rotation. But Stites has struggled in his four starts, posting a 5.40 ERA with 11 walks and 15 strikeouts.
Instead, it’s been left-hander Rob Zastryzny who has had the most success of any Mizzou starter so far. The freshman from Corpus Christi, Texas, boasts a 3.38 ERA with eight walks and 18 strikeouts in his four starts, including a solid 7.1 innings thrown Friday against Le Moyne (one walk, eight strikeouts, three earned runs).
KBIA Sports Extra had an opportunity to watch Zastryzny up close Friday. Grading Zastryzny on an NCAA-weighed 20-80 scale, here are the ratings:
Fastball: 55. It has good movement away from right-handers (inside to lefties) and has a little bit of sink, too. He has plus command of the pitch—at least, early on, we’ll get to stamina later—spotting it on the corners but keeping it low. When he missed, he missed low—key for a pitch that tops out at 90 mph. It consistently registered in the upper 80’s, according to the team radar gun.
Changeup: 40. It has good movement down and away from right-handers, which leads to a lot of whiffs or weak ground ball outs pulled to third base and shortstop. He still needs to work on commanding the pitch, but he threw a few good ones that looked more like a changeup of a two of three-year veteran than a freshman. There’s a decent speed difference between his fastball and changeup, which is thrown in the upper 70’s. With a little refinement, it could be a plus pitch.
Slider: 30. We didn’t see much of it Friday, but it didn’t appear Zastrynzy had a good feel for it and/or wasn’t confident in it. It has decent vertical movement, but didn’t have much horizontal break. Zastrynzy throws it in the upper 70’s. It’s probably the pitch he needs to work on the most, but if he can improve it to the point where it’s a good out pitch to go along with his changeup, he’ll be extremely successful at the college level.
Stamina: 40. It’s not too surprising Zastrynzny’s command declined as his outing went on, but he still managed to turn in some good results. He has room to add some bulk to his frame, and with that should come added durability.
The verdict: Zastrynzy will go through some growing pains in 2011 as his offspeed pitches are still works in progress, but his fastball is ready for the collegiate level. It’s too early to put him in the same realm as Max Scherzer/Aaron Crow/Kyle Gibson/Nick Tepesch—of course, all four of those pitchers were right-handed power pitchers—but Zastryzny certainly appears to have a chance to put together a fine career at Missouri.