The 2021 MLB Draft will begin on July 11, 2021. Next up in our prospect series, we take a look at Jake Rucker, a versatile third baseman with some room for improvement.
Make sure to check out all of our other MLB Draft Profiles.
Jake Rucker, Third Base, University of Tennessee
Weight: 195 lbs
2019 Stats: .273/.358/.339
2020 Stats: .339/.425/.581
2021 Stats: .330/.399/.520
Since arriving at the University of Tennessee, Rucker has been a consistent bat. In his freshman season, he hit .273, which was solid. In 2020 and 2021, Rucker’s numbers shot up and he batted over .330 in both seasons. Due to his dominant play, Rucker earned himself many honors. He is a 2021 Baseball Third Team All-American, Additionally, a First Team All-SEC on the 2021 Spring SEC Academic Honor Roll, and many more accolades. Rucker was terrific on the field and in the classroom.
— Trey Wallace (@TreyWallace_) June 2, 2019
Rucker is a balanced prospect. He is solid both in the field and at the plate, though not elite in any area of the game. Rucker is a somewhat powerful batter who could end up hitting 10-15+ home runs a year if he continues to improve his strength. He hit 9 home runs in his junior season at Tennessee. Rucker is good at driving the ball and picking up extra bases while keeping consistent numbers. His aggressiveness at the plate allowed him to hit 21 doubles and two triples in his junior year. Rucker is also an average fielder with good versatility. He can play second base, third base, or shortstop, but seems most comfortable at third.
Rucker’s biggest weakness is his lack of an elite trait. He is an average fielder and an average batter which raises questions about his upside. Rucker struggles at the plate against breaking balls and although he was a consistent hitter in college, he may not be able to keep up his aggressive approach while posting good numbers in the majors. He strikes out a lot and has low exit velocities as well.
Pro Comparison: Ty France
France and Rucker are very similar. France is an average fielder, but is versatile, much like Rucker. Additionally, both can drive the ball well and hit home runs at the plate, but both post poor exit velocities. France has hit eight home over just more than the first half of the season if he keeps up the pace will finish with 15-20 which could be a similar number to Rucker in the big leagues.
Draft Projection: Round 6, Pick 188, Minnesota Twins
Josh Donaldson is 35 years old and the Twins will need a replacement eventually. The Twins do not have a third baseman in the top 20 of their prospect pool and Rucker could end up being his replacement in a few years. Rucker’s positional versatility will also help him navigate his way through the bigs and be more appealing to teams in the draft.
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