The UCLA Bruins baseball team had a dominant pitching staff in the 2010 season. Their pitching took them all the way to the final game of the College World Series where they dropped an 11 inning heart-breaker to the South Carolina Gamecocks by a 2-1 score. In 2011, two of the pitchers from that UCLA staff were selected first and third in the MLB draft. The first to go was Gerrit Cole, now in the starting rotation for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the winner of Game 2 in the 2013 NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals. With the third pick, the Arizona Diamondbacks selected Trevor Bauer from UCLA. In December, 2012 Bauer was traded to the Cleveland Indians in a blockbuster 3 team deal. Surprisingly, neither of those aces was the pitcher to start the 2010 College World Series Championship game for UCLA. That honor went to a 5’9″ left-hander by the name of Rob Rasmussen.
As a high school pitcher in Pasadena, California, Rasmussen compiled a 4 year record of 38-2 with a 1.04 ERA. In 248.2 career innings in his high school career, he allowed just 37 earned runs while racking up 492 strikeouts. His 12-0 record in his senior year earned him first team All-State and third team All-American honors. But, because he had already made a firm commitment to go to college, he wasn’t drafted until the Dodgers took a chance on him in the 27th round of the 2007 draft. As expected, he passed on the Dodgers offer and went to UCLA.
After an injury plagued 2008 season at UCLA he appeared in 18 games for the Bruins in 2009, 6 of those games as a starter. He was 4-2 with a high ERA of 6.75 but recorded 51 strikeouts in just 44.2 innings. He became the number 3 starter for UCLA in 2010 and started 19 games. He finished the season with an 11-3 record and a 2.72 ERA which was the fourth best ERA in the Pac-10. In 109.1 innings he recorded 128 strikeouts while walking just 35 batters. In game 3 of the NCAA Super Regionals, he threw a complete game 2-hit shutout while striking out 9 and walking just 1. That win over Cal State Fullerton sent UCLA to the College World Series for the first time since 1997. The Bruins advanced all the way to the College World Series championship game on June 29, 2010 where they dropped that heartbreaking 11 inning 2-1 pitcher’s duel to the University of South Carolina. Rob Rasmussen threw 6 scoreless innings while allowing 6 hits and striking out 5 in that game.
Rob Rasmussen was selected by the Florida Marlins in the 2nd round (73rd overall) of the 2010 draft. He signed with the Marlins in 2010 and played in the Marlins farm system until July of 2012 when he was traded to the Houston Astros in the deal that sent Carlos Lee from Houston to Miami. Then, in December of 2012 the Astros traded him to his hometown Dodgers in exchange for minor league right-handed pitcher John Ely. In 2013, at age 24, Rasmussen struggled at the AAA level in the Dodgers organization going 0-7 at Albuquerque. He pitched well at AA, finishing 3-4 2.55 with Chattanooga in the Southern League and, in 81.1 innings, he allowed just 60 hits and walked 28 while striking out 76 batters.
Finally, the journey to the major leagues for Rob Rasmussen took another surprising turn when on August 31st of this year, his hometown Dodgers shipped him to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for veteran Michael Young. With the 2013 minor league season coming to a close, Rasmussen has yet to pitch his first game in the Phillies organization. He will likely begin the 2014 season as a member of the Reading Fightin’ Phils but it would not be a surprise if his journey takes him to the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs sometime during the upcoming season. But the fact that such a young and talented left-handed pitcher has changed teams 4 times in 4 seasons can certainly raise some questions regarding the reason for all the changes. Was he really in such high demand that 4 teams insisted he be included in trades? Or did all those teams get a good look at him and decide he wasn’t what they expected? I prefer to take a positive approach and assume that the reason he has been traded so often is because there is a high demand for a pitcher with his abilities. Hopefully the Philadelphia Phillies will turn out to be the final destination for Rob Rasmussen.