17th-rounder Ratliff has 'something to prove'

Marshall third baseman excited to join organization, says where you're drafted is 'just a number'

17th-rounder Ratliff has 'something to prove'

ARLINGTON -- Marshall University third baseman Tyler Ratliff has been an underdog his entire baseball career, but he seems to have embraced the role.

Maybe that's because he comes from the high school whose football team was immortalized in the movies as the ultimate underdog. Or it could be just sheer determination to achieve his dream.

"I've always felt like I've had something to prove," said Ratliff, who was taken in the 17th round by the Rangers in the 2017 MLB Draft on Wednesday.

He is one step closer to his dream.

"When I woke up this morning, I was a little nervous," Ratliff said. "You just don't know where you are going to go or who is going to pick you. A couple of teams called to discuss different scenarios. But sitting in my basement, watching TV and I started getting nervous."

He was watching from his home in Alexandria, Va., where he went to T.C. Williams High School, made famous in the movie "Remember the Titans." They played their baseball games at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park, which is on the other side of town where Ratliff lives.

That was the site of Wednesday's shooting, where members of Congress were practicing for a charity baseball game.

"Yeah, I saw that on television," Ratliff said. "That's all the way on the other side of the town, but I grew up on those fields. There is Little Simpson where I played Little League and there is Big Simpson where my high school team played. I can't count the number of games I played there."

He hit .425 as a senior, was All-Region and carried a 3.95 GPA on the T.C. Williams Honor Roll. But the big schools ignored him, so he ended up at Marshall and had an outstanding career there. As a junior, Ratliff hit .295 with 53 runs scored, 11 home runs, 47 RBIs and a .552 slugging percentage. He also pitched in four games.

Ratliff has seen players he played with and against get recruited ahead of him and get drafted ahead of him. He doesn't let it bother him.

"As long as you get to play on the same field, you can show who is the better player," Ratliff said. "Where you are drafted is just a number, it doesn't mean anything at the end of the day. Everybody is going to be playing on the same field."

Actually, being a 17th-round pick means something with the Rangers. They have had unusually good luck in that round, with Ian Kinsler, Mitch Moreland and Ryan Rua selected there in the past.

"I didn't realize that but that's cool," Ratliff said. "I was super excited when the Rangers drafted me. They were one of three teams that were really interested in me. I went to a tryout camp there [at Globe Life Park] and the people there were really super. I think it's going to be a really good fit for me."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.