April Fools' Day was more like Christmas Day for Robbie Ross, who found out Sunday that he had made the Texas Rangers' opening-day roster.
The former Lexington Christian Academy pitching star will be in the Texas bullpen as the left-handed set-up man when the Rangers host the Chicago White Sox in Friday's season opener.
Ross got the good news from Texas Manager Ron Washington on Sunday morning in aptly named Surprise, Ariz., the Rangers' spring training home.
"It was pretty unbelievable. I was very shocked," Ross said by phone from Arlington, Texas.
"I went into camp thinking they'll have me for a week, then I'll go back to the minor-league side. But things kept changing to the point where they said I had a chance to make the team.
"It's ridiculous. I never expected to jump like I did."
Chuck Ross, Robbie's dad, said his son's leap to the bigs was "like putting a $2 bet on a 50-to-1 horse and he wins."
Robbie, a second-round draft pick of the Rangers in 2008, showed steady progress in three full minor-league seasons. He had a 10-5 record with a 2.34 earned run average last year, including six late-summer starts for the Class AA Frisco (Texas) RoughRiders.
He won the Rangers' Nolan Ryan Minor League Pitcher Award and attended a banquet in January. Afterward, he stuck around for a mini-camp and rubbed elbows with guys like Texas pitching coach Mike Maddux, his brother Greg Maddux, and the legendary Ryan.
"Being around guys like that, asking them questions about pitching, was an unbelievable blessing," Ross said.
Chuck Ross thought that experience prepared Robbie for spring training.
"He wasn't awestruck when he came into camp," Chuck Ross said.
Robbie had an impressive spring training, finishing with a 1.50 ERA, and an 11-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
"Once I found out I had a chance to make the team, I tried not to put any pressure on myself," he said. "I just went out and pitched and everything bounced my way."
Now comes the good stuff, the major leagues.
Ross, 22, will share his first Opening Day with his family.
His wife, Brittany, who was his high school sweetheart, has been with him throughout spring training. They made the long drive to Arizona in February with their three dogs — Coco, Nala and Rypley.
Robbie's parents, Chuck and Julie, and his brother Isaac will make the trip to Arlington for Friday's game.
"God really had his hand in this," Ross said. "I didn't expect anything going into spring training, but here I am, on the team. It's been awesome. Now I just hope to stay healthy, stick around for a while and enjoy it."