The Daily Northwestern

Baseball: Luke Farrell, Kyle Ruchim, Zach Morton eye MLB draft

Northwestern utility man Kyle Ruchim has gotten some interest from Major League Baseball teams ahead of June’s draft. He is unsure of whether they want him to pitch or hit, but he hit .365 in 42 games this season and had a 2.60 ERA in 34.2 innings.

Daily file photo by Meghan White

Northwestern utility man Kyle Ruchim has gotten some interest from Major League Baseball teams ahead of June’s draft. He is unsure of whether they want him to pitch or hit, but he hit .365 in 42 games this season and had a 2.60 ERA in 34.2 innings.

Alex Putterman, Reporter

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Since 1983, the Wildcats have had at least one player drafted all but three years. In 2013, the program will almost certainly continue the tradition.

The three-day Major League Baseball draft begins June 6 and will likely include at least one – and potentially as many as three – Northwestern players.

Ace right-handed pitcher Luke Farrell headlines the Cats’ draft hopefuls. The son of Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell enjoyed a breakout senior season in 2013, posting a 2.13 ERA and earning second-team All-Big Ten distinctions.

Scout.com baseball columnist Chris Webb said Farrell could be selected in the sixth or seventh round, and Rob Ozga of baseballdraftreport.com suggested the seventh to 10th rounds as strong possibilities.

“The one line that always stood out to me across his scouting reports was the description of how difficult it is to square up his fastball,” Ozga wrote in an email to The Daily. “What the pitch lacks in velocity (88-90 miles per hour) it makes up for it with impressive natural run and sink. A solid all-around fastball, pair of usable off-speed pitches and big league size make him a worthy senior sign, perhaps as early as the initial set of money-saving rounds.”

Farrell said he has heard a variety of projections of where he will be picked, but he is not concerning himself with the specifics of his draft position.

“It’s so up in the air because there are so many factors that play into it,” he said. “There are so many guys across the country. You get told this or that, and I’m doing my best not to hang on to what any specific person tells me.”

Webb and Ozga agreed utility man Kyle Ruchim has the next best chance of being drafted of any NU player, but the junior said this week he will probably return to NU for his senior year, regardless of where he is picked.

“I’ve gotten information from Major League teams, and I think that’s a cool thing,” Ruchim said. “But as far as next year, I’d really like to finish school here, and that’s the primary reason I’d be back.”

Ozga noted Ruchim’s potential as both an infielder and a relief pitcher. Ruchim said he does not know if teams are interested in him as a pitcher or a hitter. The junior batted .365 this season while playing second base and center field and pitched to a 2.60 ERA in 34 2/3 innings on the mound. Webb and Ozga both said Ruchim could be a mid- to late-round pick in the 40-round draft, and Ruchim said he will focus on either hitting or pitching in 2014 to make himself more appealing to MLB teams.

Less optimism surrounds the prospects of redshirt senior Zach Morton, who pitched and played second base for the Cats. Morton said Wednesday several teams have told him they would “give him a chance” as a pitcher.

“Hopefully I get drafted,” Morton said. “I’ve heard that I can hopefully get a chance, but I’ve just wanted to play since I was young, so if I get a chance, that would be great.”

Ozga said an organization that values athleticism in its pitching prospects might take Morton late in the draft, but he pointed to Morton’s low strikeout rate — 46 punchouts in 85 innings — as a deterrent to MLB teams.

“That’s what guys look for. A lot of swing-and-miss guys,” Morton said. “Hopefully if I can focus on pitching, I can kind of improve my velocity and make better pitches and hopefully get more strikeouts.”

Ozga said it is unlikely any other Cats players will be drafted this year, but sophomore catcher Scott Heelan and junior relief pitchers Dan Tyson and Jack Quigley could get consideration in the future. Senior first baseman Jack Havey has an “outside chance” of signing with a team after the draft, Ozga said.

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About the Writer
Alex Putterman, Web Editor

Alex is a Medill senior studying journalism. He has written for The Daily’s sports desk since his first quarter at NU. His past positions at The Daily...