Jake Rucker is headed to Fort Myers, Fla. after being selected by the Minnesota Twins with the 219th pick in the 7th round Monday evening in the 2021 MLB Draft.
The infielder will now play for the Single-A Mighty Mussells for what Rucker hopes to be a short stint before making his way to Iowa to play with the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
“This is what I signed up for and what I’ve always wanted to do,” Rucker said. “I know it will be a lot of fun.”
The Greenbrier native and 2018 Pope John Paul II graduate watched the draft with his brother Carson when the Twins chose him.
“That was a cool moment to share with my little brother,” Rucker said. “Mom and dad work Sunday to Sunday, but to have that moment when the call came in with Carson was special. Hopefully, he can use that as motivation to be great at the next level. I’m glad we were able to share that.”
The rising junior Goodpasture standout and younger Rucker has pledged his commitment to the Volunteers.
As for the older Rucker, his decorated three-year career with Tennessee culminated this past spring with a trip to Omaha, Baseball America Third Team All-American honors, All-SEC First Team (3B) selection, Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Third Team All-American and ABCA/Rawlings Southeast All-Region First Team honors — all while maintaining SEC Academic Honor Roll status.
“This season just clicked,” Rucker said. “We knew we had a good team in 2020 and thought we would get to Omaha, so we wanted to live up to that legacy and play for those guys that didn’t get that chance.”
Rucker ranked as the No. 209 prospect in the country by MLB.com; his slot value for the 219th pick is set for $198,500.
The versatile Rucker, who has seen time at every position on the left side of the infield, says he wanted to go higher, but his trust falls in the hands of God.
“I had a feeling I wasn’t going day one, so that second day was a lot of buildup,” Rucker said. “It is stressful, but not everyone gets to go through that, so it’s exciting. I know God has a plan for me; He wanted me to get picked in that slot, and I will follow it and put all my trust in Him.”
Rucker was one of three Volunteers drafted Monday from the 2018 class joining Connor Pavolony and Max Ferguson.
“I’m super proud of our class,” Rucker said. “Going in, we told each other we would turn this program around and get it back to where it was — which is Omaha — and help put UT baseball back on the map. I think we did that, and it is a great feeling knowing we have made things easier recruiting wise for those coaches to get the best players from Tennessee and the best players from around the country. It’s also exciting (that) my little brother will be there in a couple of years to experience it all.”
Jake knows Carson will be just fine when he gets on The Hill but does offer some advice for the younger talent.
“Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to live up to my name,” he said. “It’s your journey; Coach V took a chance on you because he believes you can excel in the program and get drafted as I did. I want him to go out there and have fun and carry on the Rucker legacy of hard work and bringing everything you have to the table.”
Now that Rucker is among the small percent of players to get drafted, he can focus on the next chapter of his life — making the Twins proud.
“I’m honored and blessed the Twins are taking a chance on me,” he said. “They won’t regret it.”