But the talented centerfielder is used to playing under pressure, already having been in the national spotlight when his team defeated Japan in the 1999 Little League World Series and again in the 2005 when his high school team (Russell County) competed in the Alabama high school state championships.
Rasmus played for his dad, Tony - who was a talented ball player in his own right - his entire little league and high school career. Tony also coached Colby's his younger brother Cory (38th overall pick by the Braves in 2006) all the way up to the minors.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound lefty finished up the 2006 season with a combined 16 home runs, 8 triples, 26 doubles, 28 stolen bases in 36 attempts (77.78%), and a .288/.364/.470 line between Single-A Quad Cities and High-A Palm Beach after getting off to a slow start in April. He's now working on perfecting his swing at the Cardinals Instructional League in Jupiter, Florida.
After a long day in Jupiter, Rasmus chatted with me about his relationship with his brother, Roy Hobbs (better known as "The Natural"), and his biggest fan.
Adam Foster: Your dad was a 10th round draft pick in 1986 (California Angels) and your younger brother, Cory, was a first round supplemental pick in 2006 (Braves). How has your family influenced your passion for baseball?
Colby Rasmus: My dad has been my coach all my life. It's just kind of like my whole family is about baseball. That's what we do pretty much. Every weekend I'd be playing baseball. I never got to do a lot of other stuff...baseball year-round pretty much.
AF: You and Cory have been making names for yourselves ever since you played together against Japan in the Little League World Series Championships in 1999. Do you guys compete with each other?
CR: We mess around a little bit every know and then, but not really. He knows who's better, that's all that matters.
AF: And who's that?
CR: Who do you think? We kid around at times, but we don't take it seriously...we play around with each other.
AF: You guys are pretty different players at this point anyways. How did you two interact when you were competing together in the Alabama state championships in high school? Like was it high fives in the dugout?
CR: Yeah. We've always gotten along real good. You know like normal brother fights and stuff, but we got a good relationship.
AF: He's got a few pounds on you (175 vs. 220), is that ever intimidating?
CR: Well, he's the eater. He's got all the weight, but he's slow.
AF: Speaking of speed, I've heard people compare you to Steve Finley a little bit. What do you think about those comparisons?
CR: I don't know. I don't really think about it too much, I just play the game. I look at myself as a ballplayer, I don't really try to compare myself to anybody. But when they compare you to someone like that, it's a pretty good thing.
AF: You led the state of Alabama in home runs your senior year in high school with 24, were clocked throwing in the mid-90s from the outfield in a pre-draft workout for the Red Sox, can hit for average, are a plus runner, swing from the left side of the plate, and have enough defensive talent to patrol centerfield. Have any scouts ever compared you to Roy Hobbs?
CR: To who?
AF: Roy Hobbs.
CR: Roy Hobbs...I've never even heard of Roy Hobbs.
AF: The Natural! You know...the movie.
CR: Oh! (laughs). Ummmm...nah.
AF: Did the Cardinals give any consideration to developing you as a pitcher?
CR: Nah, not really. The Cardinals saw me pitch...but not really because I didn't really want to pitch. I don't know, if I don't make it playing the outfield, I'll probably try to pitch.
AF: Heading into Spring Training in 2006, Baseball Prospectus said that you have a "haymaker swing." Is that a label that you agree with, or would you describe your swing differently?
CR: A long swing? Probably. Last year I had a kind of long swing...struck out a lot in the beginning of the year. This year, I started back on that pace, striking out a little bit (0.40 BB/K ratio in April with Single-A Quad Cities; 0.62 overall between Quad Cities and High-A Palm Beach). Yeah, I swing really long.
AF: But you've struck out less and walked more every time you've moved up a level in the minor leagues (0.29 BB/K ratio in Rookie-Johnson City; 0.53 in Quad Cities; 0.77 in Palm Beach). Is plate discipline something you've really been working on?
CR: Well, I cut down my swing a little bit and looked for certain pitches in certain counts...stuff like that. I'm not trying to do too much. Coming out of high school in the first round, I'd go out there and try to hit home runs and do all this stuff. But it's just all about relaxing, seeing the ball, knowing what counts you're hitting in, that kind of thing. I've gotten to learn more and more as I've gone along. That's why I've gotten better and better.
AF: How much more comfortable do you feel at the plate now than you did when you first began your professional career?
CR: It's way different. I feel like just getting out there and seeing the ball. In high school I felt I could hit anybody and now I feel like I can hit anybody. You know what I mean?
AF: Yeah. What are some of the things that you're working on in the instructional league?
CR: Just getting my swing better and better...trying to take a lot of hacks and get my swing good and the best I can get it...trying to make that Double-A team next year.
AF: What do you think your chances of doing that are?
CR: I feel like it's a pretty good chance, but that's just me talking. You never know what can happen. I just want to try to go out there and do the best that I can. And if the best that I can do don't make it, then that's fine.
AF: What kind of relationship do you have with the Cardinals front office?
CR: They don't really keep in touch with me or anything like that during the offseason. But [this offseason] they might because last year I didn't do real good; this year I've done a little better. You never know.
AF: What kind of goals have you set for yourself for next year?
CR: I haven't really thought about next year too much. I'm still trying to finish up instructs. But I guess one thing is I want to try to start off in Double-A...get going up there. And if it could happen, maybe get called up. And if not, then try to do it again the year after.
AF: When you were first drafted, did you and the Cardinals discuss any kind of timetable for when you could be in the major leagues. Or was there just a bunch of uncertainty then?
CR: The Cardinals never really said anything about it. You probably know more than I do...I don't really look on the internet or anything and they don't really say anything to me that's too formal. Maybe 2008? That's the only thing I've heard.
AF: So, for you it's just working hard day in and day out and whatever happens, happens?
CR: I'm going to do the best I can. And if I do make it next year to where I can end up getting called up, I'll be the happiest person in the world. But if I don't, I'm not going to be the lowest person in the world.
AF: From what I've read, your dad has been the one who has been quoted the most when it comes to your professional and amateur career, but I get a feeling that your mom is as excited about your baseball career as anyone.
CR: Oh yeah, she is! She tries to call me all the time and keep me going.
AF: Is that something that has helped you get through the grind of the minor league season?
CR: It does, but nothing can keep you from being tired with that many games. This being my first full season, it wasn't too bad. But it will get better as [my career] goes along. I will know what to expect more and more and how to keep myself together.
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