Seale, Ala.—A two-way player capable of delivering power at the plate and also shutting down opponents on the mound is worth his weight in gold to college baseball programs on strict scholarship limitations. That makes the 6-5, 230 left-hander Rock Rucker from Russell County the equivalent of 14 karats.
In his first season with the Warriors after playing at Redan High last season, the Auburn signee has been a huge plus for Coach Tony Rasmus’ team. Moving to Florida after his sophomore season after his father lost his job, Rucker moved back to Stone Mountain and was home-schooled the first semester of the year before playing for Redan in the second semester.
Because of that Rucker wasn’t eligible to play in Georgia this year and that meant searching for a new home. With the tradition and a history of producing top talent, Russell County was an easy call for Rucker. After getting in touch with Rasmus, Rucker and his family quickly made the move and the rest is history.
“When I first got here being the new kid was kind of tough,” Rucker says. “I was a little nervous being the new guy, but after a couple of weeks they came to me with open arms. It’s a whole big family concept of Coach Rasmus and everybody bringing me in and showing me around. I have been loving it.”
That love has shown on the field as Rucker has been one of the main reasons why the Warriors are riding high in 2012. With a record of 38-10 this season, Rucker said everything has gone well for him including a much more challenging schedule.
“I have been doing very well,” Rucker says. “I have been hitting and pitching pretty well. Coming from Redan last year we played just 23 games. We passed that a long time ago at RC. It’s a great schedule getting ready for college and the draft. It’s a great opportunity.”
Hitting .382 this season with 42 hits in 126 at-bats, Rucker has shown the pop that makes him one of the top prep hitters in the country. With seven home runs, two triples, 12 doubles, and 40 RBI, the big lefty is a force at the plate for the Warriors.
On the mound he has been even more dominant with a record of 7-0 and an ERA of only 0.41. In 34 innings pitched this season Rucker has allowed just two earned runs and opponents are hitting just .064 against him.
Having the opportunity to watch Rucker in action this season, Rasmus says that if the big man makes his way to Auburn then the Tigers will be getting something special.
“We haven’t had a player as athletic as him since Colby left here,” Rasmus says. “He’s just a super athlete. When you watch him walk out there you know he’s a little special.
"The thing about him is that he hasn’t tapped into 80 percent of his ability yet. That’s what I told Coach Foxhall. He’s going to blow that place up with a little coaching up there. I have no doubt in my mind that once he commits to Auburn and plays three years up there, he’ll be a first-round draft pick. He has that kind of ability.”
The big question is will Rucker even make it to Auburn?
With the possibility of being an early draft pick, Rucker says that he’ll cross that bridge when the time comes. Something that could work in Auburn’s favor however is his friendship with several fellow signees. Even though David Dahl is likely a first rounder and Addison Russell could also be taken very high, Rucker says all of them have kept in contact and have formed a bond.
“Me and Addison Russell, Jordan Ebert, and David Dahl, if we all came we would be a big part of that next class coming in,” Rucker says. “Me and Addison spent a week together in North Carolina. I talk to Ebert and David and Sam Gilliken just about every day. Our recruiting class is pretty close.
“We talk about the draft and about college,” Rucker adds. “If the opportunity is there you kind of have to take it. If not I hope some of us will be at Auburn this fall. That would be nice.”
First Rucker is hoping to finish off his one year at Russell County in style, with a championship. This weekend the Warriors will face Charles Henderson High in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs. With a strong staff and some power at the plate, Rucker said he feels like his team has a chance to win it all.
“Our ace Ray Castillo (Alabama signee) took some time off to heal an injury,” Rucker says. “We have a junior named Jesse Nelson that’s good along with Todd Dial and me. I think we have a great chance.”
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