Through seven games, Oklahoma catcher Jimmy Crooks has already earned a new moniker from his teammates.
“We gave him a nickname: Jimmy Rakes,” said OU head coach Skip Johnson. “Because that’s what he does.”
Crooks — or "Rakes" — leads the Sooners with a .364 batting average. He’s tied for the team lead with 15 total bases, is the co-leader with two home runs, paces the Sooners with a .682 slugging percentage and is second with a .548 on-base percentage. And Crooks isn’t just making good contact — he also leads the team with six walks and has been hit by pitch a team-high three times.
“When we recruited Jimmy, we knew what type of player he was,” Johnson said. “He’s made leaps and bounds about how to handle himself. And he’s really, really competitive.”
Crooks should figure prominently into this weekend's action as OU has four games scheduled at Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, TX: Arizona on Thursday (2 p.m.) and Friday (noon), Missouri on Saturday (7 p.m.) and Dallas Baptist on Sunday (6 p.m.).
Crooks, a junior college transfer from McLennan College, hails from nearby Euless, TX, where he was a star on the Trinity High School team.
After opening with two games at home, OU played twice last week at Globe Life Field — home of the Texas Rangers, and just about seven miles from Crooks’ high school — and he was on fire. He went 2-for-3 with a home run, a double and three RBIs against Stephen F. Austin, then went 2-for-4 with a solo homer against UT-Arlington.
Crooks said he had played a state championship game at the Rangers’ old ballpark — Flower Mound hit a walk-off home run, he said — but his third game in an OU uniform was his first time to play in the Rangers’ new home.
“It was just like everything I dreamed of,” Crooks said. “As a kid, you always dream of playing in the big league parks, just being in the majors. Growing up, the Rangers’ stadium there close, I always went to games and it was just a great experience just seeing players there.
“It’s like, you know, a little vision. That’s what you want to do, that’s your dream. That’s what you want to do when you develop here. So that’s the goal — that’s the ultimate goal for me.”