After being selected by the Rangers in the first round of the 2015 draft, and really only having just started his minor league career, left-handed prospect Cole Ragans underwent Tommy John surgery in March of 2018, causing him to miss all of the that 2018 season.
In 2019, he began working his way back. It didn’t last long. On May 14, just fourteen months after his surgery, the graft used in to connect the ligament to the elbow tore off. He would have to have a second Tommy John surgery. He missed all of 2019.
Ready to pitch again in 2020, the pandemic hit, shutting down all of minor league baseball.
Three years, three prime developmental years, were snatched away.
Finally, in 2021, he got his chance to pitch, starting in High-A for the Hickory Crawdads. He did so well, he was chosen to play that year in the Futures Game. Not too long after that, he was bumped up to Double-A. For Frisco, he went 3-1 with a 5.70 ERA.
Perhaps those weren’t the most stellar numbers. But, certainly, really anything for a guy coming off two Tommy Johns and a lost year could be considered a success.
Then success for real kicked it. Back at Frisco to start the 2022 season, Ragans went 5-3 with a crisp 2.81 ERA. That got him promoted to Triple-A. He continued impressing at Round Rock, putting up a 3.32 ERA in eight starts.
Today, the left-hander from Florida makes his major league debut for the Rangers.
Two Tommy Johns and one pandemic later, he overcame a lot of odds. But believed in himself enough not to quit when other might have.
These are the kinds of human stories that make baseball so wonderful. They’re also the kinds of stories that make a lost season like 2022 worthy of caring about.
You wonder how many pitches it will take for his heart to quit pounding out of his chest, if it ever stops. Seeing a major league debut is always special. A kid’s dream came true.
Good luck, Cole Ragans. The Rangers could sure use a pitching success story from its system.