After fulfilling one of the historic collegiate athletic careers on the diamond during a successful four-year campaign resume for Southern Arkansas University Muleriders, Prescott's Trevor Rucker will be taking his talents to the professional level in baseball.
After fulfilling one of the historic collegiate athletic careers on the diamond during a successful four-year campaign resume for Southern Arkansas University Muleriders, Prescott's Trevor Rucker will be taking his talents to the professional level in baseball. It was announced last week that Rucker has signed with the Southern Illinois Miners of the independent Frontier League.
He's one of several standout former Muleriders to play professional baseball. According to SAU Sports Information Department, Rucker's signing with the Miners makes him the fifth person in franchise history of former Muleriders continuing their careers since 2011. Rucker joins Cannon Lester (2011-13), Hayden Simpson (2013), Jon Mark Abbey (2013), and Billy Germaine (2017).
Rucker has arguably produced one of the most impressive collegiate baseball careers at Southern Arkansas University. He's achieved numerous accolades as one of the top D-II college baseball players in the nation and claiming as the 2016-17 Great American Conference Male Athlete of the Year during his senior season.
He's had one of the most extraordinary dream senior season's as a top college baseball player in the history of athletics at Southern Arkansas University.
Rucker became the second-straight baseball All-American to take home the GAC Male Athlete of the Year honor. He helped the Muleriders win the regular-season title for the second time in his career and advance to the NCAA Regionals for the third time in his time frame.
Rucker was the unanimous GAC Player of the Year, taking home the Central Region Player of the Year award from all the major outlets - National Collegiate Baseball Writer's Association, the Division II Conference Commissioner's Association and the American Baseball Coaches Association – and earned First-Team All-America recognition from the NCBWA and D2CCA.
It's been a lifelong dream for Rucker to play professional baseball and the feeling can't be described how excited he's looking forward to being amongst the nation's best diamond performers.
"It feels great. It is nice knowing that all the years of hard work and dreaming of playing pro ball are finally coming true and paying off," Rucker said.
At an early age, Rucker has love playing baseball and once he stepped on the diamond with a bat and glove, he knew this the career he wanted to fulfill someday in the future. He began playing baseball at 3-years-old and tossed Wiffle balls with his dad in the yard. From that point Rucker fell in love with the excitement to play sports and strongly believed he could work hard to be productive on day as a baseball player.
Now with so much success achieved, Rucker looks forward to the challenge to accomplish more on the pro level.
"My goals are simple. I just want to go out there and prove to people that I deserve to be there and use the platform that I’ve been given to inspire other kids that come from small schools. I want to be an example for kids, showing them what hard work and having faith in God to work things out can do for you. God has given me a platform to reach people and actually get people’s attention. So I would like to use that to spread His word and become a positive Christian role model," Rucker said.
Graduating from SAU in May 2017 with a degree in Industrial Technology-Engineering, Rucker knows there have been special people in his life that's made a major difference along impacting him to be the man he is today. Working hard and staying dedicated are very important principals you need to have in order to be successful in life. Rucker feels the inspiration to play baseball and finish school couldn't have been accomplished without a strong family backbone of support.
"As for people that inspire me, I would have to mention my wife (Carlee), my mom and dad, grandparents, family and previous coaches and teammates. All of these people influenced me to pursue baseball and helped mold me into the player I am today. So I’m confident in saying that my opportunity means just as much to them as it does to me," Rucker said.
"The sport of baseball has really meant everything to me since I began playing. As a kid, I was on the road every weekend to play and never got tired of it. I’ve known since early high school that baseball was going to be the sport I wanted to pursue. Since then, baseball has taught me discipline and how to work hard to achieve my goals," Rucker said.
"Firstly, I want to thank God. Without him blessing me with the ability to play this sport and putting the people in my life who have pushed me in a forward direction, none of this would be possible. Secondly, I want to thank my wife Carlee. She is making so many sacrifices to allow me to have this opportunity and I can not thank her enough for what she does for me. I would also like to thank my family members for being supportive in my decisions over the past few months and having my back along the way," Rucker said.
Now as Rucker gets ready to join his new pro league team in April, he's one of eight players to sign with the Southern Illinois Miners to be added to their 2018 campaign. Along with Rucker as signees - outfielders Bryson Bowman, Chris Scura, Erik Williams, Corey Dempster, (infielders) Austin Call and Julian Russell, and left-handed pitcher Billy Griffin.
The Southern Illinois Miners are the Frontier League's winningest franchise since debuting in 2007, winning the 2012 Frontier League Championship as well as division titles in 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016. They have been awarded the Frontier League Organization of the Year award three times since their inception, and also set a new Frontier League attendance record in their inaugural season.
For Rucker's collegiate career at SAU, he became the first NCAA college baseball player in at least the last six years to rack up at least 20 doubles, 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases. He finished 2017 atop the GAC in eight major offensive categories – batting average (.393), slugging percentage (.842), on-base percentage (.498), runs scored (67), doubles (20), home runs (20), total bases (165) and times hit by pitch (25). He was selected as one of 12 finalists for the Tino Martinez Division II Player of the Year Award as well as one of 14 finalists for the Josh Willingham Division II Most Valuable Player Award. Rucker remains the only player in all NCAA College Baseball with at least 20 doubles, 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases. Additionally, he is one of just four (4) players in all of NCAA College Baseball to reach the 20 or more mark in home runs and doubles with the other three hailing from the DI ranks. As the unanimous GAC Player of the Year, Rucker ended his career at Southern Arkansas with an impressive impact to post a career best as a senior in Batting Average (.393), Runs Scored (67), Hits (77), Doubles (20), Triples (4), Home Runs (20), RBIs (49) Slugging Percentage (.842), and On-Base Percentage (.498). Furthermore, Rucker's season totals rank him in the Top-25 of DII in six (6) categories - Slugging percentage (2nd), Hit-By-Pitch (2nd), Total Bases (3rd), Home Runs (7th), Runs Scored (15th), and Doubles (21st). Totaling 44 extra-base hits, Rucker's 20-home run campaign is the second-most in a season at SAU, and moved him to the top of the all-time list as he ended his standout four-year career with 42 home runs. He's the first baseball player in GAC history to be a four-time All-GAC selection (2016 - HM, 2015 - HM, 2014 - 2nd-Team/Freshman of the Year), Rucker sits atop seven (7) major offensive categories in the GAC - Slugging percent, On-Base percent, Runs Scored, Doubles, Home Runs, Total Bases, and Hit-By-Pitch.
In his first season at SAU, he was selected Great American Conference “Freshman of the Year”, earned All-GAC Second Team selection and GAC All-Tournament MVP. He also earned the Natural State Baseball Freshman of the Year and Natural State Baseball First Team Selection and a Josh Willingham Award Finalist.
Rucker, a senior outfielder for SAU claimed the fourth GAC Player of the Week award of his career after he hit .462 at the Air Hogs DII Classic. This tournament featured four opponents that all entered the season ranked or among those that received votes in the Collegiate Baseball Preseason Poll according to SAU Sports Information Department. He homered, tripled, doubled twice, stole four bases and scored six runs For his career as a Mulerider, Rucker hit .341 (261-for-766) with 200 Runs Scored, 54 Doubles, 11 Triples, 42 Home Runs, 154 RBIs, 100 stolen bases, a slugging percentage of .604 and an on-base percentage of .430.
During Rucker's final season at SAU, the Southern Arkansas senior outfielder Rucker now sits alone atop the SAU record book for career home runs as he blasted his 42nd career homer in the Muleriders' 9-5 loss to Henderson State in an elimination game at the 2017 Great American Conference Baseball Championship at Clyde Berry Field in Arkadelphia. He's surpassed former SAU All-American Cannon Lester, who hit 41 home runs over his prolific four-year career.