By Bob Elliott
NASHVILLE _ Lefty Evan Rutckyj impressed this season pitching at double-A Trenton and class-A Tampa in the New York Yankees system.
Obviously, he impressed the Atlanta Braves scouts more.
The 6-foot-5 Rutckyj (pronounced ROOT-ski) was left unprotected by the Yankees and claimed by the Atlanta Braves Thursday with the third pick over-all. The Windsor, Ont. resident has an excellent chance to stick with the rebuilding Braves next season.
Also claimed in the minor-league phase was Tampa Bay Rays Toronto catcher Maxx Tissenbaum, selected by the minor-league phase of the draft by the Miami Marlins.
“We had a lot of people in our room pushing for Rutckyj, but I would say Roy Clark (special assistant to the general manager and former scouting director) was the most effusive,” said Atlanta president John Schuerholz.
Rutckyj struck out 82 in 61 2/3 innings while going a coming 2-3 with a 2.63 ERA in 36 games in relief. Oh and he also had time to pitch for manager Ernie Whitt as Canada won the Pan Am Games in Ajax.
“He checked a lot of boxes for us,” Braves general manager John Coppolella told reporters. “Cold-weather kid, late-bloomer, big body, really good fastball – 92-95 mph, really good breaking ball. Struck out 40% of lefties that he faced this year.
“He’s a guy that’s going to get a shot and we’ll see how he does. But these are the types of players that you can (carry on the roster), because he can get lefties out, a former starter, someone we are excited to add to our organization.”
Former Jays lefty Denis Boucher, now a Yankees scout, chose the lefty in the 16th round of the 2010 draft and gave him a $500,000 bonus after seeing him pitch for the Windsor Selects, Detroit Jet Box and the Canadian Junior National Team.
Tissenbaum hit .257 in 73 games at class-A Charlotte with one homer, 33 RBIs and a .655 OPS.