Ryan O'Sullivan's Waiting Game Continues
When it comes to the draft, the O'Sullivan family doesn't usually take a conventional path.
Righthander Sean O'Sullivan was considered one of the top high school arms in the nation coming into 2005, but when his velocity dropped so did he, to the Angels in the third round. In hopes of improving his stock, he went to junior college for a season, though he ended up signing with the Angels for $500,000 as a draft-and-follow.
Younger brother Ryan was a 10th-round pick of the Giants in 2008 out of high school in El Cajon, Calif. He didn't sign and headed to San Diego State.
He pitched in 12 games as a freshman, going 4-4, 6.79 with 28 strikeouts and 11 walks over 56 innings. In 2010, he didn't even finish his first inning of work before a sore arm took him off the mound. He played shortstop and hit .250/.397/.370 over 108 at-bats.
O'Sullivan still was in line to follow in the footsteps of Stephen Strasburg and Addison Reed as the Aztecs' ace heading into his junior season, but he got tripped up by poor grades and was ruled ineligible.
O'Sullivan then decided to transfer to NAIA Oklahoma City, but he redshirted for the 2011 season.
So O'Sullivan didn't get on the field at all in 2011. Yet somehow he still ended up as a fourth-round pick.
O'Sullivan was at Oklahoma City from January to March. He went to classes and worked out with the team, doing everything except pitching in a game. After that, he headed back home to California and continued to work out for scouts.
O'Sullivan has a 6-foot-1, 195-pound build and can dial his fastball into the 92-94 mph range. He throws two variations of his spike curveball: a loopy, get-me-over version that he throws for strikes, and a harder version that falls off the table that he uses as an out pitch. He worked to improve his circle changeup this spring and has more confidence in the pitch.
O'Sullivan has better pure stuff than Sean, who first reached the big leagues with the Angels in 2009 and was traded to the Royals last July in a deal for Alberto Callaspo. He has pitched in Kansas City this season but was currently with Triple-A Omaha.
"I've learned a lot from him," Ryan said. "We talk about pitching more than anything. When he's home, that's all we do. I'll go over to his house and we'll mess around and play ping-pong or whatever and just talk pitching. It's good because he'll give me advice and I'll give him advice. We go back and forth with it. He's helped me out big time with what to look forward to in the minor leagues—what to do right and what not to do."
The Dodgers scout who actually saw Ryan the most was Calvin Jones, whose territory includes Oklahoma. But he also had a good workout at Dodger Stadium the day before the draft, which didn't hurt.
Still, when the draft rolled around O'Sullivan was surprised to hear his name called as the Dodgers' fourth-round pick.
"I was excited because it had been a tough battle for a year and a half, two years now—with the injury and having to transfer and everything," he said. "It makes you realize that if you just battle through the adversity you're going to have in your life, good things are going to happen in the long run."
O'Sullivan isn't pitching competitively this summer. He's working out, playing catch and throwing light bullpen sessions. He's also been keeping tabs on the Dodgers' financial woes as he waits to sign.
"I kind of saw it coming—it was going to happen eventually," O'Sullivan said. "We'll see what happens, if MLB takes over or whoever takes over, hopefully they can get it turned around and get this club back to where it should be."