A Blog of Toronto Blue Jays Prospects Interviews, Evaluations and News

RHP Ryan Cook has Big Goals On and Off the Field

Righty is focused on baseball and life after the game

RHP Ryan Cook has Big Goals On and Off the Field

July 25, 2016

Ryan Cook has big plans in baseball and life after the game. (Kyle Castle)

Ryan Cook has big plans in baseball and life after the game. (Kyle Castle)


Determined is the best way to describe Blue Jays right-handed pitching prospect Ryan Cook. Whether it’s on the diamond, or in his future career in the medical field, Cook is focused on achieving all of his goals no matter how long it takes.

While he’s targeting all of the dreams he has set out for himself. The prospect still almost missed out on his chance of playing professional baseball. Remaining on the board after the MLB completed their amateur draft in 2015; Cook didn’t know what his future held in baseball until the Blue Jays called and offered him an undrafted free agent deal.

“Draft day was pretty stressful for me as I was one of those guys on the fringe and I didn’t know if I was going to get drafted or not,” stated Cook. “When the Blue Jays called and asked me to play I was ecstatic. It was probably the happiest moment of my life up to this point. It’s just an awesome feeling and I’m so grateful to have this opportunity.”

Presented with the convenience of seeing three different levels of the Blue Jays minor league system in his first season really helped Cook understand how to compete in pro ball. Appearing in games with the GCL Blue Jays, Dunedin Blue Jays, and the Vancouver Canadians respectively in 2015 really pushed the prospect in the right direction.

“The GCL is a tough league. You have to wake up every day really early and it’s hot so it’s not the best place to play. With that said, it was great just getting down there to get my feet wet,” explained Cook. “Playing in the GCL really helped me get my confidence going in pro ball. Dunedin was a really big eye opener for me just being there with all of the big prospects. It was great seeing if I throw strikes I can get these guys out. They’re good hitters there, but they’re still going to get themselves out 7 times out of 10. Vancouver was a blast. I faced a lot of the same guys I’m facing in the Midwest League. It was a nice first year seeing the lowest team, high-A, and that middle ground which I feel is very similar to playing in Lansing.”

Dealing with a little bit of adversity in the first half of the Midwest League season; Cook has come back stronger since the all-star break. Lowering his opponent batting average from .287 in the first half to .227 in the last month shows some promising advances in Cook’s season.

While Cook will be looking to lower his numbers a little more in the final six weeks of the season. Fans should be aware that the prospect has been making continual progress throughout the year that his statistics doesn’t necessary show.

One of the areas Cook has made the most strides is in his pitch repertoire. These improvements can be seen in the prospects secondary pitches. Competing with a better slider and rediscovering the changeup are noticeable changes for Cook who admits that he tries to build off his sinker and fastball before mixing in his off-speed pitches to keep hitters off-balance.

“I’m a pretty fastball dominant pitcher,” explained Cook. “I like to sink the pitch with arm side run. I get ground balls and get ahead with that pitch. After that I’ll try to get a punch out with my breaking ball. My changeup is a bit of a work in progress. I didn’t throw it much last year, so now I’m working it back in. But for me it’s all about working off the fastball. I’m a fastball guy even though I don’t throw too hard. I work sinkers in spots and rely on weak contact.”

Seeing some definite advantages in sinking his pitches in professional baseball, Cook discusses what he has liked about his ability to keep baseballs low in the zone this season.

“The sinker plays big time in professional baseball. I think more so than velocity,” Cook added. “In college it doesn’t help as much with metal bats as guys can still flick something into the outfield for a hit at times. With the wooden bats they break more often and you get weaker contact. I think it’s huge to have that ability. It’s something I want to get more consistent with so I can play with it and see where it takes me.”

Encouraged by the way Cook has developed his pitches throughout the season. Lansing Lugnuts pitching coach Jeff Ware feels the young pitcher is moving in the right direction with his career.

“I like the amount of strikes that Ryan Cook throws,” stated Ware. “Ryan pounds the zone and has deception with his fastball which gets a lot of chases. His slider is getting a lot better. His changeup is still a work in progress and he’s going to continue and work on that for the remainder of the season. When he gets that down it’ll really help him along in his career.”

But Cook is more than just a reliable arm for the Lugnuts’. He’s also an intelligent young man with big goals for the future. Completing a Pre-Med degree at the University of Richmond prior to becoming a professional baseball player shows the kind of work ethic that Cook brings to the table every day.

Hoping to be able to take the next step in his medical education when his playing days are over. The prospect made sure to stay focused on his studies, while conditioning during the winter.

“I did a lot of working out during the off-season,” stated Cook. “I did a lot of weight lifting with a guy at the gym. I threw a lot with my little brother. I worked a little bit at a sporting goods store and I did a lot of studying. Hopefully after baseball is done I’ll be able to go to medical school so I studied a lot for that during the off-season. The studying wasn’t always fun, but it’s something I’m focused on doing in the future as I studied Pre-Med at Richmond and medical school will be the next step in the process.”

While nobody can predict how far their career will go, it’s obvious that Cook has done an excellent job at preparing himself for success in the near future.

Whether Ryan Cook finds that success in professional baseball, or in the medical field, fans of the Toronto Blue Jays will continue to support the righty for years to come.