When talent and an unmatched work ethic merge great things can happen. And they have for former Greater Spokane League standout Drew Rasmussen, who was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays 31st overall in the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft on Monday.
Rasmussen, who stood 6-foot-2, 210-pounds and could throw a fastball in the mid-90s as a senior at Mt. Spokane, is undeniably gifted. He’s put on 15 pounds since moving on to star for Oregon State. But according to his high school coach Alex Scheurman, it is Rasmussen’s work ethic that turned him into an elite college pitcher and professional prospect.
“I think it’s fair to say he’s the hardest worker I’ve ever coached,” Scheurman said. “I can honestly say he’s not the most athletic kid I’ve coached. But from a baseball savvy standpoint, the kid is off the charts.”
Scheurman recalled being impressed by Rasmussen’s baseball IQ even before coaching him, when he would attend baseball camps at Mt. Spokane as a kid and ask pointed questions of the coaching staff that revealed a deep understanding of the game.
Rasmussen has excelled at Oregon State, where the No. 1-ranked Beavers are a favorite to win their first College Baseball World Series since 2007. The redshirt sophomore is a co-captain and sports a 0.86 ERA and 3-0 record over six appearances, four of which were starts.
He got a late start to the season, having missed 13 months of ball while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Rasmussen became the first pitcher in school history to throw a perfect game as a freshman in 2015, doing so in the fourth start of his college career.
“His game never stops getting better,” Scheurman said. “He went from a sophomore on our staff who threw in the low 80s, until his senior year he was hitting 94. He works so hard and develops his other pitches, rather than relying on the fact he can throw hard.”
Now Rasmussen’s heater hits 97 mph and if he keeps improving on the same trajectory he has ever since he was a kid in Spokane, he could rapidly rise through the Rays’ system and be on a major league field before long.
Gonzaga has pair drafted on Day 3
Two more Gonzaga baseball players were selected on the final day of the 2017 MLB First Year Player Draft on Wednesday as Tyler Frost and Jeff Bohling both went early in the day.
In the 15th round, the Chicago White Sox selected Frost, a junior outfielder, with the 12th pick of the frame. Frost hit .284 with 38 RBIs and 41 runs, leading the team with nine homers. Frost was named First Team All-WCC and Second Team All-West Region as a sophomore.
Bohling went in the 17th round to Colorado. He hit .270 during his senior season, with 26 RBIs and 26 runs. Last year, he was the WCC Player of the Year after finishing with eight home runs, 50 RBIs, and a .522 slugging percentage.
In all, Gonzaga saw four players selected during the three-day draft. Frost and Eli Morgan are both eligible to return to school for the 2018 season but seniors Bohling and Wyatt Mills have played their final out for the Zags.
Morgan named All-American
Gonzaga junior starter Eli Morgan picked up the highest honor of his career, earning Perfect Game/Rawlings First Team All-America accolades.
Morgan, the eighth-round draft pick of Cleveland on June 13, went 10-2 with a 2.86 ERA last season, fanning 138 in 100 2/3 innings.
Morgan also received Second Team All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball on June 1 and First Team All-WCC honors in May.
Trio of Cougars drafted on Day 3
Washington State redshirt-junior pitcher Damon Jones, junior third baseman Shane Matheny and junior pitcher Colby Nealy were selected in the Major League Baseball Draft on Wednesday.
Jones was taken in the 18th round by the Philadelphia Phillies, Matheny was selected in the 23rd round by the San Francisco Giants and Nealy was taken in the 35th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Cougar signees Isaiah Smith (OF, 21st, Kansas City) and Jack Smith (INF, 39th, Seattle) were also drafted.
Jones, taken the No. 533 overall selection and the seventh pick in the 18th round, served as the Cougars’ Friday night starter most of the season, posting a 3-3 record in 16 appearances including 13 starts. The lefthander struck out 41 hitters in 68 2/3 innings.
Matheny, taken as the No. 696 overall selection and No. 21 in the round, was an All-Pac-12 selection this season after leading the Cougars with a .309 batting average, three triples and 34 RBI and tied for seventh in the Pac-12 with 16 doubles in the regular season.
Nealy, selected No. 1060 overall and No. 25 in the round, tied for seventh in the Pac-12 with 27 appearances and posted a 4-3 record. The righthander recorded 21 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings with all but one appearance out of the bullpen.
LCSC’s Robinson drafted
Lewis-Clark State College first base/designated hitter J.J. Robinson, a senior from Colfax, was drafted in the 33rd round by the Minnesota Twins.
Robinson was named the NAIA West Player of the Year for the second straight season. He was second on the team with a .340 batting average and led the squad in home runs (22), RBI (68), doubles (15), and slugging percentage (.739). The left-handed hitting Robinson, the 976th pick overall, was also named the MVP of the Avista NAIA World Series.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.