Ryan Rua’s professional baseball journey has taken him to four leagues in four time zones since he was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 17th round of the 2011 draft.
On Tuesday, Rua, 24, will be in North Little Rock, Ark., to play in the Texas League All-Star Game alongside nine of his Frisco (Texas) RoughRiders teammates.
“Being named to the all-star team is a cool accomplishment and I’m really looking forward to it,” said the Amherst High School graduate. “There’s a lot of hard work in the offseason that goes into an honor like this.”
Rua’s hard work has been on display across the Class AA Texas League this season. He entered Sunday, the last day before the all-star break, ranked fifth in the league in hitting with a .303 average, tied for fourth in home runs with 10 and sixth in RBIs with 38.
It’s the second year in a row that Rua is playing in an all-star game. He was a South Atlantic All-Star last season while playing for the Hickory Crawdads.
Rua finished second in the SAL in home runs with 29 a year ago despite missing the final month of the season after earning a promotion to Frisco.
“I worked hard with my hitting coaches when I was in Hickory on finding my swing and having a better feel for what I can do with my swing,” said Rua, who was an honorable mention Division II All-American in 2011, his senior season at Lake Erie College.
“I keep focused on the things I worked on at Hickory and it’s allowed me to have success (in Frisco).”
In his first two seasons of professional baseball, Rua hit only 11 home runs in 126 games while playing in Spokane (short season for the Class A Northwest League) and the Arizona Instructional League.
Rua said he was better prepared for the Texas League this year after playing 23 games for the RoughRiders last August, even though he only hit .233.
“Last year when I moved up it was a real eye-opener,” he said. “But it prepared me well for what I had to do to get ready for this season.”
When asked the biggest difference between Class A and Class AA, Rua said as you advance through the ranks of professional baseball the pitchers are more consistent and more confident, forcing hitters to make more adjustments.
After playing second base last season for the Crawdads, the Rangers organization moved Rua to third base this spring. Now he’s playing third, first, left field and designated hitter for Frisco.
“If they need me at first or third or in the outfield, whatever they have to do to keep my bat in the lineup I’m going to do,” Rua said.
Rua still spends his offseasons in Amherst working out at either Amherst High School or Oberlin College.
The RoughRiders are 42-31 this season and already won the first-half championship, thereby clinching a place in the Texas League playoffs in September.
“That’s been the highlight of the season for me, when we clinched the first-half championship and had a celebration in the locker room,” he said.
Now the only question that remains is if Rua will still be in Frisco to play in the playoffs or if his lofty numbers will earn him a promotion to the Round Rock Express, the Rangers’ Class AAA team down the road in Austin.
“Whatever happens, happens,” Rua said. “If I was to get promoted again this season, I’ll be ready.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.