Profiling Phillies’ late-season call-up Darin Ruf
At the start of 2012, Darin Ruf was hardly on the radar. The blog PhuturePhillies.com, which is dedicated solely to discussing the Phillies’ farm system, didn’t even list him amongst their top 30 prospects at the start the season (This is not a knock on their work, but a testament to the incredible difficulty of predicting a pro player’s future production).
But despite his lack of acclaim, the 26-year old, right-handed power hitter has performed at every level of the game so far. A 20th round pick in the 2009 draft, Ruf lit it up in the New York-Penn league (.301 AVG /.377 OBP /.496 SLG). He continued his success for the Lakewood BlueClaws in 2010 (.330/.443/.548) for 32 games before a midseason promotion took him to high-A Clearwater Threshers (.277/.335/.421). In 2011, Ruf spent the entire season in Clearwater and brought his numbers back up (.308/.388/.506), earning a promotion to AA Reading. For the Reading Phillies, Ruf burned the house down. While posting a .317/.408/.620 line through 139 games, Ruf blasted 38 home runs in just 489 ABs, and scored 104 RBIs.
Oh yeah, now he’s mashing it in the majors, too. Ruf was called up mid-September, but earned his first start last Wednesday. In three starts he is hitting 5 for 11 with 4 RBI, 1 home run, and a double.
Now, I’ll urge you to temper your expectations a bit. Remember Dom Brown in 2009? World-beating 5-tool prospect, destined for greatness? Well, he may yet be that player, but setbacks and slumps have kept him from being a regular in the majors until the late July trades of Victorino and Pence opened up a starting spot. Charlie Manuel is reserving his judgement, too. And rightly so. So many guys succeed early only to fail later, and vice versa.
But Ruf has been remarkably consistent in his development as a hitter so far. We’ll probably have a much better idea of how he’ll pan out as a major league player after a stint in AAA, where I expect him to to start the 2013 season.