August 17th, 2013
Would you believe that a 17th round draft pick from 2011 with 11 professional home runs entering this season would end up in the 30s in his home run count? Ryan Rua has done just that this season.
The former Lake Erie College standout went deep to lead off the bottom of the third on Thursday night for his first Double-A home run and his 30th this season. He is now tied with Tennessee’s Javier Baez and New Britain’s Miguel Sano for the third-most homers in the minors this season, trailing only Oklahoma City’s George Springer (32) and former Indianapolis Indian Andrew Lambo (31) and Hickory’s Joey Gallo (31)
The Rangers have had other players reach the 30 home run mark in the minors. Here’s at look at some from recent years: Joey Gallo (31 this season), Mike Bianucci (30 in 2009 and 2011), Nelson Cruz (37 in 2008) and Ian Gac (32 in 2008).
Look at the reaction on Twitter following Ryan’s homer:
Who is Ryan Rua?
The 23-year-old is in his third year of professional baseball after getting drafted by the Rangers in the 17th round of the 2011 June Amateur Draft (same round as former San Antonio Missions pitcher Matt Stites who was traded to the Diamondbacks in July in the Ian Kennedy deal). Ryan is the first player to ever be drafted out of Lake Erie College in Painsville, Ohio.
If it seems he just came out of nowhere this season, that because he really did. In 2011 with AZL Rangers and Spokane, Ryan knocked just four long balls. Playing for Spokane in 2012, Rua launched seven homers.
2013 has been a breakout year for the Amherst, Ohio native. In Hickory, Ryan slammed 29 home runs in 104 games and 367 at-bats. Ryan earned the promotion to the RoughRiders on August 8, and he knocked his 30th homer of the season and his first at the Double-A level in his seventh game with Frisco.
In an interview with Alex on August 10, two days after becoming a RoughRider, Ryan spoke about where he thinks this breakout has come from, and how he handled people’s doubts:
“The success this season surprised me somewhat, but not all that much. The hitting coach in Hickory that I’ve been working with for about two years, Justin Mayshore, helped me get a good feel for my swing, find a groove and find my confidence as well.”
“Coming out of high school, I was always the smallest guy on the team. In college, I was still one of the smaller guys. There’s always been a chip on my shoulder, but I think it drives me.”
This season, Ryan is second only to Hickory third baseman Joey Gallo for the most home runs in the Rangers system. Rua also leads the Rangers system in RBI with 84, ahead of Brett Nicholas who has 79.
Tepid Participation at Lone Star Ball caught up with Ryan for a Q&A just days before getting promoted to Frisco. Tepid asks Ryan about growing up in the small Ohio town of Amherst, and get to know a little bit more about Rua and why he loves hot dogs. The two also discuss the success of the Hickory Crawdads this year, what pitches Ryan likes to hit, and his experience learning to play at each base.
Baseball term of the day: Plowhorse - A player who grinds out solid performances after others would have expected him to let up.
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)