Ryan Rua was the #19 prospect in the LSB Community Prospect Rankings this past offseason, and I did a write-up on him you can read here. My takeaway at the time was that he had some great numbers in Hickory, but he was old for the league, and his struggles at AA after a late-season promotion had me bearish about his prospects going forward.
Rua is at AA Frisco for the 2014 season, playing third base (since Rougned Odor is the regular second baseman), and while it is early, Rua is so far making me look foolish for questioning him. Through 11 games and 41 plate appearances, Rua is hitting .394/.512/.667, with 7 walks against just 4 strikeouts.
While the overall slash line is impressive, what really jumps out at me is the K rate. Rua's breakout 2013 campaign at Hickory had him posting a 914 OPS, but with just a .251 batting average...his 91 strike outs in 430 plate appearances meant that his batting average was going to be depressed, because he simply wasn't putting the ball in play that much. That K rate was a huge red flag for me, and had me thinking he was going to have a hard time making enough contact at the higher levels to succeed.
But that hasn't been an issue thusfar in 2014, and while it is still very early, you have to be encouraged by what Rua is doing at AA. As a 24 year old, he's more age-appropriate being in AA this year than he was in low-A last year, and while he's not a great glove guy, he has played all the infield positions as a pro, and could offer you Jeff Baker-like versatility in a bench role, offering the ability to play first base, second base, third base and some left field.
So keep an eye on Rua going forward...if he keeps mashing in AA, you have to think he'll earn a promotion to AAA Round Rock at some point this season, and he could force himself into the mix for a bench role in Texas in the next year or so.