Darin Ruf is now a Phillie.
After annihilating Eastern League pitching in 2012, Reading Phils’ superstar 1B/OF Darin Ruf will join the Phillies in time for Monday’s game at home against the Miami Marlins. He’ll wear #18.
At the start of the season, Darin Ruf was a nobody. He failed to crack any list of top Phillies prospects anywhere. He was deemed too old to be considered a real prospect, because somewhere in some rulebook it was decided that prospects can only be 24 or younger.
But after breaking Ryan Howard’s R-Phils record for home runs in a season with 38 (he also hit .317 with 104 RBIs and 30 doubles, the only player in Reading Phils history to record 30 HRs and 30 doubles in a season), Ruf’s bat has forced the Phillies to at least bring him up for a cup of coffee.
Oh, and they may let him actually play the field and get some at bats, too.
Given the lack of top-notch positional talent in the minors and the dearth of power-hitters on the big league roster, Phils fans are hoping against hope that Ruf might be able to provide a powerful right-handed bat in left field.
It is important to note Ruf’s age. He is a 26-year-old player playing in AA and typically, that’s a bit old for that level. But as I mentioned in an earlier post on Ruf, his career minor league numbers have been very good throughout his career. It’s possible the Phils have been incorrect to bring him along so slowly, because his offensive numbers have been there wherever he’s played.
This year, however, the power numbers exploded.
But perhaps the critics are right. Perhaps he is just another old minor league player tearing it up against kids younger than him. Perhaps he will be overmatched against big league pitching. Perhaps his defense in the outfield is so bad that he will be a liability.
It’s entirely possible Darin Ruf will stink.
But when a guy puts up the kind of numbers Ruf put up this year, it shouldn’t matter if that player is 26, 36 or 46. A team that has struggled with the longball needs all the help they can get, and the last time I looked, 26 was still pretty young, you know, age-wise.
So now, Babe Ruf gets his chance. He may even start on Monday at first base to give Ryan Howard a rest. Howard started both ends of Sunday’s doubleheader, and with left-hander Wade LeBlanc toeing the rubber for the Marlins Monday night, it might be a perfect opportunity for the young right-hander to make his Major League debut.
And while you shouldn’t go printing up any bootleg #18 Ruf shirseys just yet, it’s perfectly OK to get excited about the player who had the best power season of any Phils’ minor leaguer since Ryan Howard.