A signed Darin Ruf card can be had for $4.99 on Ebay.
Darin Ruf is turning some heads. The Reading Phillies player is hitting .314 with 28 home runs and 81 RBI to go along with a .997 OPS. Mostly a first baseman, Ruf has now played 14 games in left field, including tonight when he went 3 for 4. He is a rare right-handed bat in a Phillies system seemingly overloaded with lefties.
Mike Olt, the Texas Rangers third baseman recently tied to trade rumors surrounding Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, just called up to the big club? He also had 28 home runs, 82 RBI, but hit just .288. Olt's OPS is .987. So the Phillies have the better player, right?
Not so fast.
Let's look at a few other recent names and their AA seasons and see where they went.
Matt Rizzotti - .295, 24 HR, 81 RBI in 2011
Ok, so these numbers are lesser than Ruf has at the moment. But they're not too shabby. Yet, the Phillies decided to essentially give the contract to the Minnesota Twins to clear space in the minors. And already, the Twins gave up on Rizzotti after he hit .225 in AAA and .246 in AAA. He is now in AA in the Oakland Athletics organization. He has five home runs combined in all three stops.
Tagg Bozied - .315, 27 HR, 92 RBI in 2010
He has one of the best names in all of baseball. He also had one of the best seasons in Reading Phillies baseball history, which got him an invite to Spring Training in 2011. After many phantom DL trips in 2011 with Lehigh Valley, Bozied quit baseball to begin selling a phone app for interactive use at ballparks. Bozied was once a top prospect, but injury kept him from ever realizing a successful career.
Michael Taylor - .333, 15 HR, 65 RBI in 2009.
Michael Taylor helped the Phillies land Roy Halladay. Yet, he has yet to amount to anything in baseball. Taylor got to experience two separate stints with the Oakland Athletics: 11 games in 2011 when he hit .200 and then again this season where Taylor is hitting .163 in six games. He could come around, but his AA season was his most successful. Former Philadelphia Daily News columnist Bill Conlin thought he would be a better player than Domonic Brown. But, I think we've learned about Conlin's judgment.
Mike Costanzo - 27 HR, 86 RBI in 2007.
Costanzo was of note, a local boy from Archbishop John Carroll High School in Radnor, PA. He was included in the Phillies' trade that landed the team Brad Lidge prior to the 2008 season. He finally got a crack at the big leagues for the Cincinnati Reds in 2012 after an injury to Scott Rolen. How'd he do? In 17 games Costanzo hit .056. Ouch.
Randy Ruiz - 27 HR, 28 RBI in 2005
Randy Ruiz was once the "other" Ruiz in the Phillies system. Or, he was THE Ruiz in the system. A power-hitting 1B (probably a DH), Ruiz actually did make the big leagues in 2008 with the Minnesota Twins, where he hit a respectable .268 in 62 at bats. He had a longer look in 2009 with the Toronto Blue Jays and hit .313 with 10 home runs and 17 RBI in 115 at bats. 2010 was a different story for Ruiz, when he hit just .150 in 40 at bats. Ruiz currently plays for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars where he got a 15 million Yen contract. I'm not sure if that's good or not.
Jeff Inglin - .284, 24 HR, 103 RBI in 2003
Know anything about Jeff Inglin? Me neither. Moving on...
Sure, Darin Ruf could be something, or he could be one of the many names that can hit AA pitchers but never pan out in the big leagues. Because he is 26 years old already, he may not be taken seriously as a prospect.
A move to AAA is probably in order in due time. Whether Ruf will ever get a chance with the big club remains to be seen.
Looking at Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects in the Phillies organization, Ruf gets no mention at all. Rizzotti was said to have the best strike zone discipline, and he was soon let go to the Twins. Heck, the Baseball America list projects the Phillies' 2015 lineup to have Shane Victorino in center and Hunter Pence right. They could be wrong about Ruf.