Nats' Tatusko Returns Strong After Surgery





VIERA, FLA. — Ryan Tatusko made an excellent first impression on his new organization last summer, as he showed no fear, in the words of farm director Doug Harris.

The 6-foot-5, 200-pounder from Indiana State was one of two righthanders who came over in the deadline deal that sent veteran middle infielder Cristian Guzman to the Rangers. Tatusko, 25, remained in Double-A with Harrisburg, where he went 3-1, 1.72 with 36 strikeouts and 13 walks in 37 innings and helped the Senators make the Eastern League playoffs.

"Hitters didn't take good swings on him," Harris said of Tatusko, who was invited to accelerated minor league camp this spring in Viera, Fla.

Tatusko, an 18th-round pick who signed for $20,000 in 2007, had Tommy John surgery as a senior at Noblesville (Ind.) High and had to redshirt for a season with the Sycamores. He then made a sparkling comeback, going 8-2, 3.09 in 84 innings in 2005 before also pitching at least 80 innings in his final two seasons in Terre Haute.

After typically throwing his fastball 90-94 mph in the Rangers organization, Tatusko touched 97 mph with Harrisburg. His slider and changeup are improving, along with his control.

"He has a physical body, and he's very aggressive with an average to above-average fastball that is donwhill," Harris said.

At Frisco before the trade, Tatusko went 9-2, 2.97 with 58 strikeouts and 40 walks in 100 innings. He has made a steady progression as a minor leaguer, moving up a level each season without any midseason promotions or demotions. Before winning 12 games last year in Double-A, he went 7-6, 4.64 in 120 innings at high Class A Bakersfield. In one start for the Blaze, he came two outs away from pitching a nine-inning no-hitter before settling for a one-hitter.

CAPITAL GAINS

• Righthander Luis Atilano, who went 6-7, 5.15 in 86 innings as a rookie last year, cleared waivers and was assigned to Triple-A Syracuse. He was invited to major league camp.

• Syracuse is scheduled to play Red Sox affiliate Pawtucket at Boston's Fenway Park on Aug. 20 as part of this year's Futures at Fenway event. High Class A Potomac was supposed to play at Fenway in 2010, but its game against Salem was rained out.