Cole Ragans Returns From Second Tommy John Surgery
The sky was the limit in 2016 for Cole Ragans, a projectable Florida high school lefthander selected by the Rangers in the first round from North Florida Christian High in Tallahassee.
He was one of the top prospects in the short-season Northwest League later that year. The following spring, Ragans met his idol Cole Hamels.
That was two Tommy John surgeries ago.
Ragans is 23 now and entered the season with zero innings at a full-season level of the minor leagues. The dream, though, is still the same as it was when he was a teenager.
Ragans wants to pitch in the major leagues.
"I'm still getting to live what I've dreamed of," he said. "I'm still getting to play baseball every day for a living.
"So I'm just trying to take it in, enjoy it and work hard. Work on the things I need to work on. Just try to get better each day."
The second Tommy John surgery put things in perspective for the 6-foot-4, 190-pound Ragans. He was told by Rangers rehab coach Keith Comstock that he had two choices: quit or go through the process again.
Ragans opened the season at High-A Hickory. He was trying not to get too far ahead of himself or to look at players from his draft making their major league debuts. He dumped Twitter to cut down on all the outside noise.
"I'm going to have my days where I get off track and I start thinking too much," he said. "But I just always try to tell myself, 'Just take it a day at a time.' "
The Rangers haven't closed the book on Ragans. They know, through players like Nelson Cruz, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Adolis Garcia, that players develop on their own timelines and have their own obstacles to overcome.
Two Tommy John surgeries is a lot, but Ragans is still standing.
"I just want to play baseball," he said. "It paid off. I'm healthy. I feel great. It's going well. I've still got a lot of work to do, things to work on, things to fine-tune, but overall, my body and my arm feel phenomenal."
— Hickory shortstop Chris Seise tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and needed season-ending surgery after getting injured while twisting to throw to turn a double play. Seise, the 29th overall pick in 2017, missed the 2018 season and much of the 2019 season because of shoulder injuries.
— Righthander Hans Crouse made his Double-A debut May 18 with a perfect inning for Frisco. He was delayed to start the season as he awaited the birth of his first child in California.