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Cole Ragans Difficult Road to the Major Leagues

Kansas City Royals pitcher Cole Ragans didn’t have a typical minor league experience. As many minor leaguers have to, Ragans needed Tommy John surgery early on.

After months of rehab, strength training and prep work, Ragans go back to the mound. After only a few pitches, he felt something in his elbow and was removed from a second straight TJ surgery.

After yet another 16 plus months of rehab, he was finally back on a mound.

“Its probably the best I’ve ever felt” Ragans told me in an interview. “…my body feels good, arm feels good, there’s no aching or anything like that”.

Ragans in one of very few pitchers to make it back from repeat TJ procedures, and even fewer have had back to back procedures.

The list of players with 2 TJ procedures include Texas Rangers pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (2007, 2016), Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Daniel Hudson (2012, 2013) former Rangers pitcher Joakim Soria (2003, 2012) and of course Jacob deGrom who we have yet to see how his return will be after number 2.

Ragans pitched out of the bullpen for the Rangers in 2023 after having a good spring training, and when the Rangers realized they needed more bullpen depth and experience, he was dealt to the Royals for Aroldis Chapman.

Back in a starting role for the Royals, Ragans finished the season strong and became the Royals opening day starter in 2024.

“My reaction was just excited, thankful; to be picked to start Opening Day is super exciting” Ragans told the Tallahassee Democrat. “I don’t think they could have gone wrong with any of the guys on our staff. Like I said, very thankful, very excited. It’s what you dream of.”

For Ragans, the mental part of dealing with back to back surgeries was difficult but he credits the Rangers rehab staff and his teammates for keeping him focused.

To see Cole succeeding like he is in 2024 is nothing short of amazing. Not many people would have persevered after the second setback, but Ragans wanted to make the majors. He worked to make his dream come true.

Not only was Ragans the opening day starter, but he has pitched like the team ace so far. Ragans has made 16 starts as of this article.

He has an ERA of 3.13 with 109 strikeouts and 30 walks. His WHIP is 1.152 for the season.

The Rangers gave the Royals an ace for a rental, and it has worked out for both teams in my opinion. The Texas Rangers of course won the 2023 World Series and the Royals received Cole Ragans.

There is no telling what his career will look like going forward, but I can tell you that Cole will always work hard to be the best he can be. In my opportunities to interview him he has always been gracious and kind and talks about the work he puts in to make himself better every start.

Not everyone that has 2 Tommy John surgeries are going to work out like Cole Ragans, but Ragans has proved to media and fans alike that he is not everyone. I look forward to following his career and seeing the success he has going forward.

If nothing else, he is proof that you can overcome almost anything in your life with commitment and hard work.


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