Signed by the Cleveland Indians as an undrafted free agent in 2011, Traveler pitcher Drew Rucinski played with the Rockford Aviators, an independent team, before landing with the Angels’ organization last year. His first assignment was with Inland Empire, and he moved up to the Travs this season. On June 7, Rucinski was the first Texas League pitcher to throw a complete game in a 3-0 win over Northwest Arkansas. That performance led to being chosen as the Texas League Pitcher of the Week. Rucinski also pitched in last week’s all-star game.
You went to college at Ohio State but grew up in Broken Arrow, Okla. How did that happen?
I went to an official visit there during an Ohio State-Penn State football game. It was too cool to pass up. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Arkansas all talked to me, but I also wanted to get away, and Ohio State was just too cool.
Talk about the experience of not being drafted out of college and also having to play independent ball?
It’s different. Baseball is baseball anywhere you play it. I think it makes you mentally tougher because you don’t get all the amenities that you see when you sign with a team.
In your first complete game, you threw 99 pitches, gave up five hits, struck out six batters and walked none. Do you remember that night?
It was lots of fun. I wasn’t doing anything really special. Strikes were going over the plate, and the batters swung early in the count which kept my pitch count down and allowed me to go the whole game.
Do you have a routine you go through before you pitch?
Nothing specific. I try to eat at the same time but other than that I’m not too superstitious.
Thoughts of being chosen as an all-star?
It was awesome, and I was really excited.
Fastball, and I throw it the most. My second is whatever is working.
Have you always been a starter?
Actually no. I was in college. Then I was a reliever before starting again. I like starting because you know you pitch once every five days and can get in a routine. But, there is an adrenaline rush coming out of the bullpen.
Goals besides the Big Leagues?
That’s it, but I want to come out every day and give my team a chance to win. The big thing is to give my best effort.
Is it nice being able play so close to home?
It’s awesome particularly when we go to Tulsa. I get to sleep in my own bed, and it’s like a mini-vacation.
What do you do in the off-season?
I got back to Columbus (Ohio) because my girlfriend is up there. Last year, I worked at Dick’s Sporting Goods but I don’t know what I’ll do this time. I do work out and have someone to work out with up there. I also deer hunt.
What do you do in your spare time?
I fish the Arkansas River when I get a chance. I like to fish for bass and a few weeks ago I was catching them like crazy.