By Tyler Stotsky
After being drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 17th round of the 2011 MLB Draft, former Lake Erie standout Ryan Rua worked through the Rangers' minor league system to try to be on the radar to get called up to the big leagues.
Rua ended the 2013 season playing third base for the Frisco Roughriders, the Double-A Affiliate of the Rangers. He had a .233 (20-86) average in the final 23 games so the Rangers organization decided to send him back to Frisco to open the 2014 season.
The Amherst Steele product played 71 games for the Roughriders in the Texas League and carried a .300 (77-257) average. He had 10 homeruns and 38 runs batted in as he was voted to the Texas League All-Star Game. Rua participated in the Texas League Home Run Derby and won it after hitting 16 homeruns in two rounds.
The next day, the Rangers promoted him to the Triple-A Affiliate, the Round Rock Express. Rua picked up right where he left off as he continued to swing a hot bat. In 58 games, he hit .313 (67-214) with eight homeruns and 36 RBI.
One thing that helped his case with the Rangers was that he was a utility player. Throughout his time in the Rangers system, he played five of the nine positions on the field including the entire infield. He played at first base, second base, shortstop, third base and left field.
Throughout the 2014 season, Texas struggled with keeping players healthy. When OF Jim Adduci was placed on the 7-Day DL with a concussion, Rua's name was first on the promotion list as he was called up to the Texas Rangers.
Head baseball coach Brian McGee was extremely excited and proud when he found out Rua was called up, "Ryan has accomplished something all players dream of. I am so happy for him and his family".
He made his MLB debut on August 29th against the Houston Astros. He went 1-5 in his debut with a single to right field in the 7th inning. Two days later, Rua plated his first run, a RBI single to center field.
Rua hit 61 homeruns in four seasons in the minor leagues, including 32 in 2013 between Low-A and Double-A. He could not have picked a more opportune time to hit his first major league homer.
On September 21st, Rua stepped to the plate in the top of the ninth inning with the Rangers and Los Angeles Angels tied at one. Rua lifted a slider on a 1-2 count against Angels' closer Huston Street and deposited it into the left field seats. Rua's first homerun pushed the Rangers to a 2-1 win over the Angels.
Rua played in 28 games throughout the end of August and September at first base, third base and left field. He finished with a .295 (31-105) average in the majors. He had seven doubles, two homeruns and he drove in 14 RBI.
In his first 28 games in the majors, Rua collected eight multi-hit games including one four hit game and a three hit game.
McGee ordered the MLB.tv package so he and his wife could watch the Rangers all September long. They watched him play almost every day and McGee said, "He looked as if he belonged and had been playing for years. I truly believe he will have a long major league career."