Baseball: Mundelein’s Ryan Borucki treated ‘like royalty’ by Blue Jays
Mundelein's Ryan Borucki, seen here in the Class 4A Glenview South Sectional, has signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 20, 2012 6:23AM
MUNDELEIN— It turns out the price was right, after all.
Despite telling Pioneer Press earlier this spring he was “99 percent sure” he’d attend the University of Iowa rather than turn pro, Mundelein star lefty pitcher Ryan Borucki instead inked a contract with the Toronto Blue Jays on July 10. And he couldn’t be happier about it.
“This is something that’s been a dream of mine since I was a little kid,” Borucki said. “I’m gonna have to bust my butt to get better every day, work on my mechanics and basically be like a sponge out there so I can learn from everyone. It’s such an incredible feeling to see everything I’ve worked so hard for become a reality.”
The deal included a $426,000 signing bonus for Borucki, who was drafted in the 15th round (475th overall) in June’s Major League Baseball amateur draft — this despite fighting through a lingering elbow injury this season that was initially thought to require Tommy John ligament replacement surgery.
So why the sudden change of heart?
“When I first found out I’d hurt my elbow, I didn’t think I’d be able to make such a quick comeback,” Borucki said. “But when I did and was able to go out there, I started hearing from some scouts that there were a lot of teams that were still interested in me. That really got my blood pumping.”
Then, about two weeks ago, the Blue Jays flew Borucki to Toronto, where they essentially rolled out the red carpet for him.
“When I got there, they treated me like I was already a major league player ... it was incredible,” Borucki said. “I walked into the Toronto locker room inside the Rogers Centre, and they had a locker set up with my name on it and a Blue Jays jersey that also had my name on it hanging inside.”
On the jersey was the number 12, which Borucki says is a number he’s worn since he first started playing.
“They told me I was lucky to have a jersey with that number on it in a Blue Jays uniform, since that number’s actually been retired and was worn by their Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar. They said they don’t just do that sort of thing for anyone. They made me feel like royalty.”
That included allowing him to showcase his talents inside the stadium by throwing a bullpen session in front of Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos and pitching coach Bruce Walton. Later that day, he took in a game between Toronto and the Los Angeles Angels.
Borucki will now be assigned to the team’s A-Ball rookie league affiliate, the GCL Blue Jays, in the Gulf Coast League in Florida. After that season concludes, he’ll be sent to play in an instructional league. And despite missing more than two months this spring with the elbow injury, he says he feels pain-free.
“They’re going to monitor me and keep a close eye on me,” Borucki said. “They said they’re going to put me on an arm strengthening and conditioning program, and as long as that progresses and I feel fine, I won’t have to have surgery on it. If my arm doesn’t respond, I’ll have to have the surgery. But I’m young, so I have all the confidence in the world that no matter what happens, I can keep growing as a player. Their team doctors did two MRI’s on me while I was there.”
Borucki’s former teammate Jordan Wiegold, who was the team’s catcher this year at Mundelein, thinks Borucki has the talent to make it to the majors someday. His fastball currently tops out in the low 90s.
“The sky is the limit for Ryan ... he went through a growth spurt and just started throwing that hard this year,” Wiegold said. “He’s so motivated and smart out there on the mound. And one of his biggest assets is that he’s able to out-think hitters. He’d even out-think me sometimes when I was calling pitches.”
The 6-foot-4 phenom was ranked as the No. 1 one prospect in Illinois by Prep Baseball Report. He allowed just 13 hits in 23-plus innings on the mound for the Mustangs, and struck out 38 batters while walking just four.
Borucki also pitched in the IHSA Class 4A Glenbrook South sectional title game against Highland Park, where he allowed just one run in four innings, for a no-decision.