With their 33rd round selection, the New York Yankees selected RHP Charlie Ruegger from Stevens Institute of Technology. I got the chance to speak to Charlie the day after he learned he would become a Yankee prospect.
Q: When you got the phone call, what was your reaction?
A: I was blown away, I couldn’t believe it, there were just so many emotions that I went through, my first instinct was to call my dad so it was just such a happy and surreal moment.
Q: I see you’re from Morris Plains, NJ and you’re a Mets fan?
A: Yeah, obviously growing up a Mets fan, being drafted by the Yankees, the last 20 years is all different now.
Q: So being drafted by a team close to home has to be nice, right?
A: For sure, if I were to ever make it to the majors, to be only hour from home would be incredible honestly.
Q: How did you become a Mets fan?
A: The first thing I remember was my dad giving me and my brother no choice, my grandfather was a Mets and Giants fan so if my dad was a Mets and Giants fan, we had to be Mets and Giants fans but it’s been a tough time as a Mets fan.
Q: Did he say anything about having to change alliances?
A: Not yet, but obviously it’s going to be something he’ll have to do and it’ll be tough but I’m sure he’ll get over it.
Q: You were a closer in 2017 and a starter in 2018, what was that transition like for you?
A: It was interesting, starting was definitely something I had done throughout high school and it was something I wanted to do in college and being a closer last season it really helped this year as a starter because as a closer I was always coming in the 8th and 9th in high-leverage situations with more pressure and you usually face the meat of the order so it really helped me being able to settle in and really deal with that pressure and learn how to pitch under different circumstances so this year as a starter, when I would go deeper in the games, it really helped me bear down and I think that was a huge help for me, also I think I learned a lot about myself and my pitching ability last year as a closer with one or two blown saves, it hurts but you got to learn to grow from that and I really think that year as a closer helped me grow.
Q: Have the Yankees said how they were going to use you either as a starter or a reliever?
A: No, nothing official yet but they did draft me as a starter, I think this past season was my most successful season as a starter, throwing 7-8 innings every week so I think for me personally, I think I would be the best fit there.
Q: Can you give a scouting report on yourself? What pitches do you throw? What are the velocities? What’s your approach on the mound?
A: I throw a four-seam fastball and that’ll be low 90s, I’ve ran it up to 94-95 a couple times this year, I throw a two-seam fastball with a little bit of sink on it and that’s usually 89-90, and then a hard slider is at about 84-85 and then a changeup is usually 78-80, and then just this last season I added a Knucklecurve which is usually about 76-78 and that’s more of a 12-6 break.
Q: Did you notice any changes in velocity as a starter opposed to being a reliever?
A: As a closer, obviously I knew coming in for one or two innings, I had to unleash the tank but back then for me that was really only 88-89, I think the highest I threw was 92 but I think after that season, I had a whole summer and fall and winter to really train and get stronger and I think that helped me be able to have the overall velo increase and be able to maintain it for a lot longer so honestly I was throwing harder as a starter than as a closer but I did have one relief appearance this year where I was able to come in and kind of unload the tank right away and that was pretty much 92-94 the whole night for three innings.
Q: Who was your favorite baseball player growing up?
A: I was always a big Mike Piazza fan when I was younger and then David Wright when I was a little bit older than that, it stinks what’s happened with him lately but right now it would be Jacob DeGrom, I just love the way he pitches, he just goes about his business, it’s great.
Q: Is that a big leaguer you’d say you’ve tried to model yourself after as a pitcher?
A: Yeah, I would say so, I love the stuff that he has and he does well, but I think I look more at a guy like Justin Verlander who has that slider and curveball and also has that changeup and he’s been able to dominant for so long and he’s one of the best right-handed pitchers we have in this game right now so if there was anyone I’d say I look up to, it would be Justin Verlander.