With their sixth-round selection in the 2018 MLB Draft, the Milwaukee Brewers may have made their most compelling pick by taking Drew Rasmussen. Rasmussen was a first-round pick in 2017 before the Tampa Bay Rays found something in his physical that changed things. Now, after his second Tommy John Surgery, Rasmussen is a Milwaukee Brewer with a ton of potential but some injury question marks to move past.
Brad Ford: What was it like getting drafted for the second time? Actually, third time, because you were drafted out of high school, right?
Drew Rasmussen: Yeah, I was a courtesy pick in the 39th round out of high school. I had all intentions of coming to school. But this one was a lot more emotional than last year. Last year we had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen and then things sort of fell through on that end. The last eleven to twelve months were an emotional roller coaster to say the least. So, to get drafted and be given the opportunity to start my professional career, it’s a blessing truly and I thank God every day for that.
BF: Who was with you when you found out you were drafted?
DR: We did the big hoo-rah last year for me. This year, I was actually preparing to give a presentation in class. I had my group partner and me. We were just working on our presentation for a financial statement analysis course that we’re in. We were running some credit risk analysis on SalesForce, a CRM for a sales company located in San Francisco. Shawn Whalen, the northwest area scout, called and said, “Hey man, we’re planning on taking you here. So, I made my partner pause what we were doing so we could hear my name be called, watch me come up on the draft tracker, and of course, I called to talk to my parents and my girlfriend. Then one of my really good friends from here at Oregon State, KJ Harrison, he gave me a call almost immediately, and he was super excited.
BF: That’s a very interesting story. You generally hear about families gathered in one room waiting to hear a name be called, but you were somewhat separated from it this year.
DR: This year, I actually had no idea what to expect. I had no real expectations because my situation is extremely unique. When Shawn Whalen gave me the call, there was a ton of excitement and emotion because I had no real idea what was going to happen.
BF: How is your recovery going from the second surgery?
DR: Really well. We’re taking this one really slow because there’s no reason to rush. I had surgery in August so there was no shot of me playing this year anyway. I haven’t even started playing catch yet; that’s the next step in the process. We were waiting until after the draft so that whatever professional organization at that time would have the ability to dictate what I do throwing-wise and how I move through that process. Now that it’s Milwaukee, they’ll have the opportunity to help me and I’ll follow whatever they would like me to do.
BF: Have you talked to Milwaukee about what they would like your role to be? Because of your surgeries, would they like you to be a reliever?
DR: No, we haven’t discussed the future that far down the road. I’ve been a starter all my life, but last year, I was trying to build myself up and get some innings to come back and prepare for the postseason. I started as a reliever with Oregon State before being thrown into the starting mix as a freshman. I have experience in both. Whatever the organization needs, I’m willing to do.
BF: That’s a great mindset going in, but hypothetically if you could pick one, what would you prefer?
DR: I mean starting comes a little more naturally. The schedule’s a little bit easier and it’s more routine. Personally, for me, starting is easier just because you get to fall into a routine. You know what you’re doing every single day. It’s the same pattern over and over again. Whereas, as a reliever, you don’t know when you’re going to throw, you don’t know how many days in a row you’re going to be needed. There’s a lot more variability to it. But I think there’s a lot more excitement in relieving because of that variability and you’re not really in control of what days you’ll throw.
BF: What’s your self-scouting report?
DR: Pretty good fastball command, I throw it on both sides of the plate. Pretty good velo. Pretty good change. Working on a slider. I have days where the slider looks great, but unfortunately, the command’s not there, then I have days where I have no action but throw it right where I want. Unfortunately, neither of those gives you great results. Then every couple of outings you can put both together and life gets a lot easier.
BF: Is there a player you base your style off of?
DR: I grew up loving Felix [Hernandez] and I grew up loving Roy Halladay, so those two. Both guys had pretty good changeups. So, probably those two. And it’s more because of as a kid growing up they were two of my favorites.
BF: I think a lot of people would be happy with a Roy Halladay second-coming.
DR: Yeah, you’re telling me!
BF: What do you do for fun on an off-day?
DR: It depends on the time of the year. If it’s summertime, I’d love to be on a lake somewhere. That’s generally what I’ve done the last couple summers. You know doing anything, fishing, boating, hanging out. Mostly just relaxing. I’m definitely going to be surrounded by friends with my feet up, because this life is stressful. It’s long days and it takes a toll on the body. Here at Oregon State, we don’t use the term grind. We don’t use that because ultimately there’s an understanding that there are a lot of situations in life that are a lot more difficult than being a baseball player. This isn’t a true grind because it’s for the love of what you do, but it does take a toll on the body, so I like to get off my feet when I can.
I’m a big movie guy, I love watching movies. Just went and saw Solo a couple days ago. I’m a Star Wars fan so that’s right up my alley.
BF: What type of music are you into?
DR: Country music. I’m a big Brad Paisley fan, Garth Brooks, George Strait, I can kinda go down any route when it comes to country. My girlfriend would kill me if I didn’t say Carrie Underwood.
BF: Do you play any Fortnite?
DR: I do a little bit with the guys here on campus, but I am nothing to write home about.
BF: You mentioned before about immediately talking to current Brewers’ prospect KJ Harrison after getting picked by Milwaukee. Have you thrown at all to KJ? He rarely played catcher during his time at Oregon State.
DR: I mean, I have. He caught bullpens often and so I got the opportunity to throw to him then. He caught every fall to give us extra bodies behind the plate. He’s an extremely quality catcher but the two guys we had here Logan Ice, I actually threw to Dane (Lund) when I started. He was a fifth-year senior. And I was just comfortable throwing to him. So I threw to Dane when I was a freshman, Logan Ice my sophomore year, and Adley Rutschman my junior year. He’s now stepped in. Those three guys are just incredible talents, and so is KJ. Those guys just happened to be there and we had a need at first base. KJ stepped in and played an important role, and he hit, he’s a great defensive first baseman. He stole that position and made it his home. When Adley got here, he was a very natural fit behind home plate.
BF: Thinking way into the future, how nice would it be to throw to him again, especially in the majors?
DR: Oh KJ, I love that man. He’s an incredibly nice human being and he’s a brother for life. It’s one of those relationships I made in college that I’ll have for life. To get the opportunity to play with him again would be simply spectacular, especially at the big league level. Having his bat in our lineup is huge. I know what he can do offensively and defensively. Seeing him live out his dreams and have success at the next level is just incredible.
BF: Last question, anything else you want Brewers fans to know about you?
DR: I got one, it might be poking the bear. I think some of the best cheese in the world comes from Washington State’s campus. So, when I got the opportunity to get back there, I’m going to have to do a little comparison.
BF: I did just visit Oregon, and we tried some cheese in a place by Seaside. I have to say, it wasn’t that bad. If Oregon can make good cheese, I’m sure Washington can. I still think ours is a little better. Although, nothing beats a Wisconsin sharp cheddar.
DR: The product at Washington State is a sharp cheddar, I’m interested to do the side-by-side.