The Dodgers on Wednesday bid adieu to Ely Mania with their trade of John Ely to the Astros, but they brought back a local kid. Rob Rasmussen grew up in Arcadia, went to Polytechnic High School in Pasadena, and pitched for UCLA. The local boy sounded excited to join the Dodgers, with this tweet:
Speechless/incredibly excited to be a Dodger, truly a dream come true!— Rob Rasmussen (@RasmussenRob) December 19, 2012
He was even drafted by the Dodgers out of high school in the 27th round in 2007, but instead opted to go to college. While with the Bruins he was a part of two NCAA regional teams (2008 and 2010), and in 2010 helped UCLA to their first College World Series since 1997. Rasmussen, overshadowed on the staff by Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer, threw a two-hitter to beat Cal State Fullerton in the super regional, part of an 11-3 season for the left-hander, with 128 strikeouts in 109⅓ innings.
After three years at UCLA, Rasmussen was drafted again, this time in the second round in 2010 by the Marlins. He pitched sparingly in 2010, with just five games in Class-A Greensboro. In 2011 he was 11-10 with a 3.64 ERA in advanced Class-A Jupiter in 28 games, including 27 starts, with 118 strikeouts and 71 walks in 148⅓ innings.
Rasmussen's uncle Neil was drafted in the first round by the Astros in 1971, and he played seven years in the minor league systems of the Astros and Brewers, playing mostly third base and shortstop.
Rasmussen was ranked the No. 7 prospect in the Marlins system prior to the 2012 season by Baseball America, which tabbed him as having the best slider in the system.
After 16 more starts for Jupiter, with a 3.90 ERA and improved control (36 walks, 75 strikeouts in 87⅔ innings) in 2012, Rasmussen was traded along with third baseman Matt Dominguez on July 4 to the Astros for first baseman Carlos Lee.
Sam Evans at Fish Stripes wrote this about Rasmussen after the trade to Houston:
As expected from a left-handed pitcher, Rasmussen has a decent pick-off move. He is also pretty good at pitching from the stretch with runners on-base as well. That's definitely one aspect of his game that his improved since college.
Due to his not very imposing frame, It's unlikely Rasmussen will add any velocity to his fastball as he matures. His fastball sits around 91-93 MPH and doesn't have very much movement. He has better command of his fastball than his other pitches.
Other than the fastball, Rasmussen also throws a slider and a changeup, Neither project as above-average major league pitches, and the changeup might actually be a tad below average.
I'm a believer that Rasmussen can handle throwing two hundred innings a year. However, I don't believe that Rasmussen could throw two hundred inning unless he gains better command of his off speed pitches. I could definitely see Rasmussen as a long reliever who would make a about five starts a year.
In 11 games, including 10 starts with Double-A Corpus Christi in the Astros' system, was 4-4 with a 4.80 ERA with 44 strikeouts and 18 walks in 54⅓ innings. He had four quality starts in a six-start span in July and August.
Rasmussen did not make the Astros' top 20 prospects in John Sickels' preliminary list for 2013, and he was given a C+ grade. Sickels describes a C grade prospect as "guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for" though he also noted "Grade C+ is actually good praise, and some C+ prospects (especially at lower levels) turn out very well indeed."
"He has a good combination of stuff and pitchability, with perhaps command being the only thing standing in his way from consistent success. His fastball has excellent sink, and he backs it up with good breaking and offspeed stuff," wrote Jonathan Mayo. "He should continue to move quickly – the Astros pushed him to Double-A after the trade. If he can manage to have average command, he could be a very solid middle-of-the-rotation starter in short order."