Get to Know ‘Fuzz Balls’: Texas Rangers Pitching Prospect Ricky Vanasco
Right smack in the middle of an incredibly talented group of young pitchers the Texas Rangers have in their farm system stands Ricky Vanasco, who has some of the best natural arm talent in the entire organization.
Before injuring himself at Texas’ alternate site in 2020 which resulted in him having to have Tommy John surgery, the 14th ranked prospect, Vanasco, was looking like a bona-fide future frontline starter, dominating the lower levels while totaling numbers of 1.81 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 49 2/3 innings in 2019. Along with those numbers, Vanasco has a four seam fastball that reaches 99 miles per hour and a plus curveball.
While the injury was a set back, it has not stopped Ricky, nor his ultimate goal of becoming a force on the mound for the Texas Rangers in the near future, as he is back and he is healthier and stronger than ever before, filling those who know of Ricky’s talent with the utmost joy.
I reached out and chatted with Vanasco by phone to ask some much needed questions.
Get to know Texas Rangers’ flame-throwing pitching prospect Ricky Vanasco
First off Ricky, I’d like to give you a chance to introduce yourself to Rangers fans. Tell us what kinds of things are you into, things you like to do, and being from Florida have you made it out to Texas yet? Are you a fan?
“I’m Ricky Vanasco, I play for the Texas Rangers, and I love Texas man, I can not get enough of it. I mean being from Florida, you know, close to the coast, always fishing and hunting, and having the same opportunities out there is great. When I was out there for the alt-sight stuff it was sweet. We got to go out and fish a couple times, you know with all the downtime, so I got to enjoy Texas a little bit more than most of the players get the opportunity to, so it’s pretty cool, but yeah, no I love Texas.”
I know that many people, including me, are excited to see you back in your first season after the injury. So, after all of the recovery you went through and all of the muscle you added in the offseason, how are you feeling now health-wise after your first couple outings here?
“I feel great man, you know, I just need to get on the mound. I need to go out and pitch, and I need to re-learn this new body again. These shorter innings and these shorter pitch counts, it’s kind of been tough to deal with a little adversity, but it’s been really good. I feel 100% healthy, but it’s just stuff I need to do better on the mound to get a better result, which is what the coaches and I are working on, so everything is falling into place, the puzzle is coming together finally. It’s going to be super good here soon. I need to just pitch, feel the mound again, regain confidence, and see my success again. So, we’re going in the right direction, we can only trend up at this point.
Pretty much everyone who regularly follows Rangers prospects have heard about the heat you throw, but we all know it takes more than just throwing hard to be a productive pitcher. What would you say is your philosophy when it comes to pitching and who would you say you model your game after if anybody?
“I just try to go out there and just be my own person. If I were to comp my pitching to anybody it would be Tyler Glasnow for the Rays. I watched him a lot, you know, we have the same kind of arm slot, same kind of stuff, same kind of off speed. But, I think for me right now its just like I said, just about getting that confidence back and everything, and being able to throw it all for strikes. I have a pretty good slider in the works now that I’ve been working on for a while, that’s starting to become a plus pitch for me, so it’s getting into the mix. That’ll be good to see when I finally start throwing it in games. The changeup has came a “LONG” way from the gutter, I’ll tell you that though. I’m about as confident in that thing as I am in anything else. My pitches have come a long way. Its good to see myself grow, from watching videos of 2019 and 2020 even, to now, you know its like “where did that guy go?”, so it’s really good to see.”
Now for a couple fun questions, since you were drafted by the Rangers back in 2017, I’m sure you’ve had some time to brush up on Rangers history a bit, so who would you say is your favorite Ranger of all-time, and who was your favorite player growing up?
“Ooh, you guys are going to hate me for saying this, but…I really loved Alex Rodriguez growing up. [laughing] I really loved him growing up man, he was just somebody, before all the stuff, I just looked up to. Like, obviously even after, he was such a great player. He’s who I got my favorite number from, so I really looked up to Alex Rodriguez honestly.”
[laughing] I’m not sure how well received that one is going to be but…
“Yeah, that one’s probably not going to sit well but that’s my pick. [laughter]”
Coming through the farm system thus far, who’s some of your favorites you’ve played with in the Rangers system?
“I’ve got a couple of them, especially being in rehab, meeting all the older guys that are down there…you know, me and Joe Palumbo before he got DFA’d and traded became really, really close. Owen White, he’s my roommate now, me and him are like twins. [Laughing] “I love ol’ Winner”, you know me and Cole Winn being at the alt-sight together, competing and becoming the best pitchers together. We always push each other, you know, I love Cole. I got to meet Jack and be around him a while too, I mean, I love Jack too, he’s an awesome guy on and off the field. Ragans; so me, Ragans, and Joe Palumbo, we all became close. We all played video games together, up ’til the crack of dawn, just you know, spending that time together… there’s not many people that I have a problem with, I literally get a long with almost everybody. It’s good, we’ve got a good mix, especially here, I can be that figure that the young ones look up to, and I’ve got my best friends here that are the same age as me. We all get along and do everything together. It’s awesome.”
That’s amazing to hear, especially because a big emphasis of the Texas Rangers right now is directed towards the future, so it’s great to hear things are gelling really well down there.
“Absolutely, it’s all just part of the process man. You know, you meet people, you see them go, you meet more people, and you see them come up with you. It’s awesome to see.”
So, looking forward with a little peak into the future, what team do you look forward to pitching against the most when you make it to the Show, and anyone in particular that you would like to strike out?
“My mom grew up a Yankees fan, and my best friend from home is a Yankees fan, so I can not wait to just go punch the house against the Yankees! I just can not wait.”
That will definitely win Texas Rangers fans back right there[laughs].
“I’m absolutely going to win it back right there, 100%. Definitely though, the Yankees and their lineup is incredible, but it was pretty sweet in Spring Training I got to face Seager and Semien and all those guys too, you know, that was a dream come true too, so that was pretty sweet. But you know… I don’t know if there’s a guy specifically I’d love to punch-out, because I’d love to punch-out everybody, but if I had to pick someone[laughs], I mean who wouldn’t want to go punch-out Trout? I mean, best player in all of baseball, who wouldn’t want to strike out Trout? It’ll be a good day when we punch-out Trout.[laughing]”
Finally Ricky, when can Rangers fans expect to see you pitch again? When is your next outing?
“I throw tomorrow [Tuesday] (4/26/2022). I’m pitching at home in Hickory against Greenville tomorrow.”
So there you have it Texas Rangers fans, a look into the future, as the young right-handed fireballer, Ricky Vanasco, looks to move forward in making a name for himself in the future with the organization.
Give him a follow on Twitter, and be sure to look out for his highlights and the box scores of the Hickory Crawdads games if you are unable to watch them play, as it could be some of your first glimpses of some of the incredible young talented players that we could be seeing play in Arlington as Texas Rangers sometime soon!