Diamond Jack Andrew Rubayo followed a strong high school season with a summer that opened the eyes of Division 1 colleges. And, by the end of the summer, Rubayo had the much-desired offers and a decision to make.
“I didn’t want to waste any time or lose an opportunity,” said Rubayo, 3-2 with a 3.23 ERA for Montgomery High while competing in the rugged Skyland Conference. He had attractive offers from Quinnipiac and Rider and was approaching some off time before the start of fall baseball.
“I considered waiting for Rutgers or Seton Hall,” he said.
But Rubayo clearly felt an urgency to get the recruitment process behind him and focus his energy on improving his pitching repertoire at his new school and with the Diamond Jacks this fall.
Quinnipiac turned Rubayo’s head as it had four other Diamond Jacks that were on the Bobcats roster in 2021. Lefthander Colin Donnelly (Immaculata) concluded his career last spring at the Connecticut program as a grad student. Junior infielder McGwire Tuffy (Hun), sophomore outfielder Jared Zimbardo (Middlesex) and sophomore first baseman Sebastian Mueller (St. Joseph Met.) will be there when Rubayo arrives in September of 2022.
Quinnipiac reinforced its attraction to Diamond Jacks when it landed Rubayo in late August.
“I like everything about Quinnipiac,” said Rubayo. “l like coaches (John) Delaney and (Pat) Egan and it’s the type of environment I want to go into as freshman. They have everything in-house set up to make you the best player you can be for their program.” Delaney is the Quinnipiac head coach and Egan is an assistant.
Egan took Rubayo and his parents on a tour of the campus and baseball facilities in late July and Andrew committed about a month later. “The campus is really nice and the facilities are great. It has all the things necessary for you to get your work in,” he said. “I’m supposed to go up during October. All the incoming 2022s are invited up to meet the team and stay the night.”
Rubayo’s arsenal includes two-seam and four-seam fastballs, a slider and a changeup. His fastball has touched 90 and sits in the high 80s. The two-seamer has the type of sinking action that gives batters trouble. “Sometimes it’ll ride a little more horizontal, too,” said Rubayo. “When I use my slider smartly, I can get off balance swings and weak contact. It’s one of my more consistent and relied upon pitches.”
Montgomery High School coach Pete Mueller has enjoyed watching Rubayo’s talent blossom.
“Andrew was certainly one of our go to guys last spring,” said Mueller. “He’s come a long way, really developing the past couple years. He’s put a lot of hard work in. He’s putting it all together. Andrew has always had that hunger. He’s driven and knows what he wants to do.”
The frequency of his use of the changeup often depends on game situations. “I don’t use it as much as my other pitches, but it depends on how the catcher and I see a batter and where I’m locating the slider. I use it more in some games than others.”
A couple big outings this summer stood out to Rubayo’s Diamond Jacks Super 17 coach Kevin Cust.
“Andrew threw well in Georgia,” said Cust. “He threw a one-hitter against the California Bulldogs in the Perfect Game National Championship tournament. He had eight strikeouts and threw just 85 pitches in six innings. His slider is 80-81 and really opened some eyes this summer.”
Rubayo also held his own against 5-Star National 17U Select, one of the top teams in a PG event in Hoover, Alabama. “Andrew kept responding well all summer,” said Cust. “He has a consistent arm and always gives you a shot to win.”
A big part of college scouts’ attraction to Rubayo is his future. “Andrew has a lot of upside,” said Cust. “I can see him sitting in the low 90s and, with that slider, being very effective. There is no telling, too, where that long 6-6, 210-pound frame settles in.
“He’ll be a mid-to-upper 90s guy when he develops more,” said Mueller, “and he’ll be a draftable kid. He’s already gotten real consistent with his fastball and his secondary pitches have come along. He’s so long the ball gets on top of you quickly, so his 85 feels like 90.”
Rubayo’s older brother, Matt, also a Diamond Jack, settled in as a robust 6-4, 230-pound outfielder at Marist. Matt Rubayo capped his career at the New York school with an outstanding redshirt senior season in 2021. He batted. .354 with 7 doubles, 7 HRs and 41 RBI while reaching base at a .407 clip and slugging .636 for a staggering OPS of 1.043. Marist was 18-11 last spring.
Andrew has a full school year and spring season at Peddie and his fall season with the Diamond Jacks to fine tune his arsenal and strengthen his body for the start of his college experience next fall. The Montgomery resident is boarding at Peddie in Hightstown. He moved into the school three weeks ago.
“I’m coming from a very difficult academic school in Montgomery and Peddie also has a very good academic program,” said Rubayo. “I knew it was a challenge I could meet and it would help me get ready for college.”
Rubayo will be an outstanding addition to Peddie coach Eric Treese’s pitching staff and, in the long run, will, himself, benefit from an extra season of development on the diamond before transitioning to college.
“I’m happy for Andrew,” said Cust. “Quinnipiac is a good spot for him and he will benefit from his year at Peddie.