SURPRISE, Az. — Seven years after he was drafted in the first round by the Atlanta Braves, pitcher Cory Rasmus still has a lot of questions about the game.
He’s surrounded by some of the best prospects in baseball on the Phoenix Desert Dogs roster at Arizona Fall League, and there’s no shortage of answers for the righthander, who toiled in 2012 for the Mississippi Braves in Double-A.
“You’ve got a whole group of different guys. That brings a bit of lightness to the atmosphere,” Rasmus said, before Friday night’s game against the Surprise Saguaros. “Everybody behind you is like an all star, it’s a good team.”
Rasmus says he asks questions everyday.
“I’ll go home at night and think about it — ‘Maybe I can use that, maybe it won’t work for me’. Who knows?
“Maybe the next day I’ll play some catch and use it, you never know what’s going to work for you … Maybe one thing will stick that you never thought of.”
A career in the minor leagues is full of challenges that demand tweaks and adjustments, and more importantly, that those changes get results.
The young pitcher is used to this process of asking questions, hearing opinions, and trying new things. It’s the environment he grew up in.
His father, Tony, was drafted in 1986 by the California Angels. Younger brother Cyle played ball for Columbus State University. Casey, the youngest Rasmus, was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011, and plays Class-A ball as a catcher with the Quad Cities River Bandits.
“They always have something to help me learn. They teach me something day in and day out. I talk to them every night if I can,” Cory says.
“I’ll have questions for them, they’ll have questions for me. We try to bounce ideas off of each other and hopefully everybody has an opinion.”
Colby, his older brother by 16 months, is the Toronto Blue Jays centrefielder. Cory has seen him deal with struggles in a very public sphere, both for his character and his performance.
“He’s a tough dude. I can relate — I’ve had injuries, so I’ve had my share of down points in my career as well,” said Rasmus, of watching his brother in the major league spotlight.
“In the end, it’s all about him going out there and making adjustments. You gotta go out there and perform.”
In 2012, Cory had big adjustments to make when he was used exclusively out of the bullpen for the first time in his career with Mississippi, at Pearl.
“It’s been up and down, I’ve had a rough road so far,” the 24-year-old said.
He missed all of 2007 while recovering from shoulder reconstruction, and had his season cut short in 2011 with trips to the disabled list.
“This past year was pretty good, I was really happy with it,” Rasmus said.
He yielded results that looked like pitching in relief is a good line of work for him. Posting a 3-5 record with a 3.68 ERA, Rasmus struck out 62 in 58 2-3 innings, and held batters to a .220 average through 50 games.
“Out here (in Arizona), I’ve had some rough games, but it’s been getting better every time and that’s all that matters,” he said.
In Arizona, he is continuing his work with his Mississippi Braves manager, Aaron Holbert, who has the helm for the Desert Dogs. The inquisitive Rasmus respects his opinions, and often seeks him out to get another opinion.
“I like (Holbert) a lot,” Rasmus said. “I can talk to him anytime…I really enjoy that aspect of it.”
The right-hander is facing the best hitting in the minor leagues, and it’s providing him with a big test in preparation for his next next season. If he can stay healthy, his 2012 campaign is a solid foundation to build upon.
“I want to go out there and feel comfortable. I want to get my feel back on the mound and compete,” said Rasmus, who speaks with the kind of authenticity that incites one to want to root for his success.
“I can’t do anything more than that. I’ll do what I can control and hopefully it’ll work out for the best.”