Exactly one year ago today, a young pitcher named Drew Rucinski was trying to find his way back in to professional baseball. He had never thrown pitches past Single-A, and was currently sitting in the Frontier Independent Baseball League, pitching for the Rockford Aviators.
Rucinski's quest had started years prior though. In 2011, Rucinski's name was not called in the Major League Baseball June Draft. The Ohio State University product luckily found his way to the Cleveland Indians system after some time with Rockford.
Two years worth of quality numbers just wasn't enough to impress the Indians and Rucinski found his way back with Rockford, where he spent the majority of the 2013 season.
With 15 appearances of All-Star work, Rucinski gained notice from the Los Angeles Angels.
Rucinski was sent directly to California, where he met his new teammates in the Angels farm system, pitching his way to a late postseason run with the Inland Empire 66ers. The 66ers went on to win the California League Championship that season, and Rucinski was a big part.
Not knowing what his future had in store, Drew worked his way through Spring Training and found himself finishing March with a bus ride to Arkansas to pitch in Double-A.
Rucinski did quick work with the opportunity he had and excelled with a strong first half of the 2014 season.
"After signing Drew last summer," says Angels General Manager, Jerry Dipoto, "he impressed all of us with a combination of solid stuff, maturity on the mound, and strong work habits."
Rucinski shined in his final six starts in Double-A posting a 1.29 earned run average, 0.761 WHIP, and 7.2 BB/K ratio.
On July 10th, Rucinski got a call every baseball player dreams of. He was heading to Arlington, Texas, to pitch with the big club, the Los Angeles Angels.
"He's truly exceeded our expectations by baking such a quick rise through the system," Dipoto said.
Exactly one year after Drew Rucinski had been standing on a mound in Rockford, Illinois, pitching for an Independent Baseball Team, he found his way to a Major League mound in the ninth inning of a 15-4 game in which the Angels were leading the Texas Rangers.
His debut didn't go necessarily as expected as he allowed a leadoff single, followed by an RBI double. After two more singles and another run, Rucinski got out of his own jam and finished the game off to clinch a 15-6 win for the Angels. Jerry Dipoto continued to speak of Rucinski's rise to the Majors;
"He's deserving of this opportunity and is now squarely on the 'prospect' map."
Rucinski will continue to rise to the top of both the 'prospects' chart as well as the Major League charts, working from the bullpen and proving his worth with the Angels, both in the system, and with the big club.