St. Louis Cardinals sign WashU pitcher with a knack for analytics

St. Louis Cardinals

Former Washington University pitcher Ryan Loutos signed a free agent contract with the St. Louis Cardinals this week. Photo Credit: D3photography.com

ST. LOUIS–Getting coffee. Making copies. Transcribing interviews. Every workplace that offers internships has some version of those mundane tasks which come along with getting the “real-world experience” that could lead you to fall in love with that line of work or ditch it all together for something else.

Ryan Loutos, a recent graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, interned for an international firm with its U.S. offices based here. They’d love to hire him now that he’s out of school. But there’s a catch.

He’s chasing a dream to someday work at another office in town: the mound at Busch Stadium.

Loutos, a right-handed pitcher, went 11-1 for the Bears this past season, with 4 complete games en route to the DIII World Series. In four years with the program, Loutos went 18-5 (The 2020 season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, when he appeared in 2 games.)

On Tuesday, he officially signed a free agent contract with the St. Louis Cardinals.

What he did in the time between his junior and senior seasons may have helped boost his chances of making it professionally, while also discovering a potential career path off the field at the same time.

A Bear teammate was working for Rapsodo, the sports data and technology company with an office in St. Louis. Loutos, who had always been interested in computers, admits that at the time he didn’t really know much about sports analytics.

“I still wasn’t super familiar with it, I knew it was cool but I didn’t know exactly what it was or anything like that I just heard terms thrown around like pitch design,” Loutos said. While data has been creeping into sports over the past two decades, it took someone like pitcher Trevor Bauer, who became something of a new pitcher overnight because of it, to catch Loutos’ attention.

His mix of baseball smarts and computer smarts was immediately interesting to Rapsodo.

“He gives a different perspective than a lot of guys who only work on the engineering or analytics team as he’s such a high-level player but also he has a little bit of coding and development experience, which is something not a lot of other analytics interns or workers have,” Seth Daniels, Director of Rapsodo’s Diamond Sports said. “So he brings a unique mix not only on the baseball field but also to our team.”

“We always joke we’re not big enough team to just have people running around getting coffee,” Daniels said. “If you come here and work you’re going to be put directly into the mix and for these guys to walk out of here with a portfolio of real hands-on stuff that they can say look at that product I built that XYZ component, that’s pretty cool.”

While Loutos was working on projects, he had access to Rapsodo devices that he could set up in his bullpen sessions, to see what was working on the mound, and get real-time feedback not only from the devices but from Rapsodo staff, in understanding what the metrics were telling him and how to pitch with them.

So what’s next?

Loutos was wrapping up some lose ends on Rapsodo work even after he flew to Jupiter to report to the Cardinals. He’s being credited with the build-out of a company app that will soon be in production.

The company hopes to maintain its relationship with him, with safeguards in place to make sure the data Loutos sees moving forward doesn’t compromise Rapsodo’s MLB clients now that Loutos is a Cardinal.

While most of Rapsodo’s interns usually try to score front office off-field jobs out of the Winter Meetings, Loutos’ journey is awaiting his first assignment to a minor league mound.

“It’s going to be a tough grind, but it’s what we’re here for,” he said.

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