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Arizona baseball: Austin Rubick to add competitiveness to Wildcat pitching staff

The 27th-round draft pick never doubted his decision to come to Tucson

Jason Bartel

It was the third day of the MLB Draft. Arizona commit Austin Rubick hadn't heard his name called yet. Then as he was with his adviser talking about another guy who just got drafted, the news came down in the 27th round.

"To be honest, I was happy about Kevin Ginkel getting drafted, and I was talking to my adviser about that," Rubick said about that special day. Ginkel was drafted in the 26th round by the Red Sox, and is also now at Arizona. "And we were just talking and all of the sudden he was like 'Hey, you just got drafted a minute ago', and I was still talking up Ginkel. I was really excited about him getting drafted."

"But it was really cool. I got called up by Carlos Munoz for the Indians, and it was a great feeling. It was a great feeling seeing my name up there. I was just with my adviser, and he got a call, and he said hey you're name just popped up. Sweet."

"My mom actually called him before she called me. My phone was off."

It was also three days after Arizona had named Nevada head coach Jay Johnson as Andy Lopez' successor. Even though Johnson hadn't even been the Wildcats' head man for a handful of days, he had already known the top pitching prospect for a while, and had met with him as the Arizona head coach.

Rubick was drafted on a Wednesday, and coach Johnson had met with the pitching prospect that Tuesday.

"I was on a plane Tuesday to meet with Austin Rubick (and others)," Johnson said. "Essentially (all the guys) that had showed up. All the other guys in the class, it was not realistic for them to show up for various reasons. We assessed where we had to make an impact."

"The day before the draft, he either flew out or drove out, and he came to my house and he told me the pros and cons to college baseball and the draft, and he said 'Whatever decision you make, I wish you the best of luck'," Rubick explained as to what happened in that visit. "I just loved his program and the way he spoke, and he really sold me on the college experience, and there's nothing you could trade it for."

Johnson also recruited Rubick while he was at Nevada, but it didn't get very far.

"I didn't get that far in the process with Nevada," Rubick said when I asked if he had spoken to pitching coach Dave Lawn before coming to Arizona. "But I mainly talked to Johnson, and I could already tell he was a good guy from the phone, and I'm really blessed with coach Lawn too. He's really an amazing pitching coach, and he's really gonna take this pitching staff far."

Even though the potential of getting drafted was always there, Rubick really wanted to come to Tucson to go to college all along.

"I could bring up hundreds of different things and I can tell you that I love all of them," he told me of what he liked about Arizona. "There's just something about being a Wildcat and the Wildcat way. Really just grabs your attention and you really want to be a part of it."

"It was a blast," he said of his first visit to Tucson. "I was smiling the entire time. This place is a special place."

Obviously he was committed to Arizona while Andy Lopez was still in charge, but Lopez' retirement didn't push him away from becoming a Wildcat at all.

"(Matt) Siegel just let me know that Lopez resigned and that he just said 'Best of luck' and whatever you decide, you decide," Rubick reminisced on that day. "He loved Arizona and wanted to stay, but a couple things happened and he didn't end up staying, but he really loved this place, and I think everyone else does too."

"I think we got here July 12th, and it was like in August, (I got a call from the Indians) and they said best of luck. I had great support from all the scouts."

Rubick not only brings the stuff to succeed at the college level right away, he also brings the mentality a freshman needs to compete in a conference like the Pac-12 week in and week out.

"I just grab the ball and know it's my game," the freshman said of his mentality on the mound. "There's nothing else like being up there and having that control, and I feel like when the ball's in my hand, we're gonna do good things."

While Johnson is not a guy who will set his "weekend rotation", there's no doubt that Rubick will be high up on the list as an option.

"I see myself as a competitor and I hope to get there. I just want to be the best that I can be in the shortest amount of time as possible, and I just want to compete the entire time I'm here in college."

That competitiveness has been missing the past three years. A guy like Austin Rubick is here to start the new era of Arizona baseball, and hopefully usher the Wildcats back into a prolonged period of success.