WASHINGTON—Ryan Ripken doesn’t mind taking a detour in his baseball career. What’s most important, he said, is what he does with his opportunities.
The 6-foot-6, 205-pound first baseman from Baltimore joined short-season Auburn after starting the year at low Class A Hagerstown. He played for the Suns, who won a first-half division title in the South Atlantic League, through June 1 and made his Doubledays debut 16 days later.
“I’m here to work and I’m here to get better,” said Ripken, 22, “and I have no doubt in my mind that I’ll get back there and continue to move on with my career.”
A 15th-round pick in 2014, Ripken had been drafted by the Orioles two years earlier out of high school. He chose college over his hometown organization, and after a year at South Carolina he transferred to Indian River State (Fla.) JC.
“It was a little bit off the path, but coach (Mitch) Markham and (Mike) Easom there were great,” Ripken said.
“They made it a comfortable, relaxed setting and helped me learn more about myself. And they put me in position to be here. Now in pro ball, I’m continuing to learn myself and trying to grow as a person and a player.”
Ripken, a lefthanded hitter who is the son of Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., had 21 RBIs in 43 games at Hagerstown but hit just .190. Through 25 games at Auburn, he hit .207/.275/.283.
Ripken spent the past two seasons in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
“He’s coming in every day and taking care of doing his work, getting better—just being Ryan,” Auburn manager Jerad Head said. “He’s very professional, goes about his business the right way and comes to the park ready to work.”
In the New York-Penn League, Ripken also had the chance to play at Aberdeen, Md., birthplace of his father and home of Ripken Stadium.
• Auburn third baseman Sheldon Neuse, a second-round pick from Oklahoma, “has shown some pop along with having a good idea of the strike zone,” Head said.
• The Nationals made 19 international signings, including Dominican shortstops Yasel Antuna and Luis Garcia for $3.9 million and $1.3 million, respectively.