To say this week has been a whirlwind for Amherst native Ryan Rua would be an understatement.
The former Comets and Lake Erie College baseball standout capped a meteoric rise through the Texas Rangers farm system Aug. 29, when his contract was purchased by the big league club and he was added to the Rangers roster.
Through Tuesday, the 24-year-old Rua started all five games that he’s been a major leaguer, going 4-for-19 with a run and an RBI.
Taking a moment Tuesday prior to his game at Kansas City against the Royals, Rua spoke to The Chronicle-Telegram about seeing his dream come true.
“It’s been pretty surreal the past couple of days,” Rua said. “It’s always been my dream to make it up here somehow. Now that it’s happened, it’s been an exciting time for me and my family and friends.
“When the news came out that I was called up, I don’t think my phone stopped vibrating for a few hours. From my family, friends, coaches, relatives — everyone that knows me — I’ve gotten a lot of love and support, and that’s been great.”
Rua is not only the first Amherst High graduate to make it to the major leagues, but he’s also the first baseball player from Lake Erie College to do so.
“It’s very exciting, being the first from both Amherst and Lake Erie College,” Rua said. “They both have great baseball programs. Overall, it’s good for the community, good for Amherst and Lake Erie College. I’m very proud to be from both and represent them at the big league level.
“I’d like to thank everyone that helped me along the way, from tee ball through Amherst High School and Lake Erie College. All of my coaches from there, in travel ball, summer ball, they all played a role into making me the player that I am today.
Everyone’s had a huge part in that and I can’t thank them enough.”
Rua, who says he has no natural position, has started three games at first base, one at designated hitter and was the starting left fielder Tuesday night.
“There’s less than a month left in the regular season, so my goal is to just kind of finish up the season on a high note,” Rua said. “Whatever they want me to do, I’m willing to do. I’m just taking it day by day.
“I’ve been bounced all over the last couple of years. The majority of my playing time has been at third, along with a couple at second and a handful in first and left. Wherever they need me, wherever they need me to be, I want to be there and help the team win. I’m comfortable more and more each day, thanks to being in all these different spots.”
Rua’s first big league hit came in his first game — a line drive single to right off of Houston reliever Jake Buchanan.
“It’s definitely a moment I’ll never forget,” Rua said. “It was a line drive base hit to right, and I got to watch it all the way down the first-base line. It was like a slow-motion event. That was pretty cool.”
Rua said former Round Rock teammates Robbie Ross, J.P. Arencibia and Derek Holland — all currently with the Rangers — have taken him under their wing in the big leagues and have helped show him the ropes. He also got some great advice from ex-Midview pitcher Ryan Feierabend, who was his teammate in Round Rock and had a cup of coffee with last month.
“I’m kind of learning day by day how things go — in the clubhouse, on the field and off the field,” Rua said. “Everyone is serious about their job and that’s one of the biggest things I’ve noticed. This is what they do for a living and they take it seriously. I just pay attention to how guys go about things day by day and go about their business and try to learn from them.
“I got to know Ryan a little bit from Triple-A. With us growing up in Lorain County, it was a natural connection. Just to understand where he comes from and how he works and how he goes about his business was something I was impressed by. It was a cool thing that doesn’t happen very often. He was a big help.”
Feierabend, who spoke with The Chronicle-Telegram last month when he was first called up to the Rangers, gave high praise of Rua.
“He was a real quiet kid, but he goes about his business the right way,” Feierabend said. “Every time we’d talk on the bench or in the clubhouse, it was about Ohio and family stuff. He apparently had my sister-in-law’s husband as a middle school teacher in Amherst.
“We didn’t really talk about baseball, and that’s kind of refreshing to get your mind off those things and talk about life, family and home. If he keeps his mind on the straight and narrow, it’s only a matter of time before he joins the Rangers.”
A 17th-round draft choice out of Lake Erie College in 2011, Rua was hitting a combined .306 with 18 home runs and 74 RBIs for both Class AA Frisco and Class AAA Round Rock prior to his call-up. Last season, he led all of the minor leagues with 32 home runs — 29 of which came with Class A Hickory.
“Getting a feel for AA last year, I just wanted to go out and prove myself again this year,” Rua said. “I made some adjustments, cut down on my strikeouts and tried to mature myself into an overall better hitter. My strikeout numbers were down and walks were up.
“Overall in both Double-A and Triple-A, I felt more comfortable at the plate. Struggles are a part of the game, but I took it day by day and game by game. That approach paid off.”
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.