Introducing Darin Ruf


Normally, this blog is dedicated to the Top 10 prospects in the Phillies organization. And while Darin Ruf has never been mentioned as one of the top talents, at some point, he may have to be.

The Reading Phillies first baseman has opened the season on an absolute blitzkrieg.

Now, at 25 years old, he’s not a baby. And considering he’s still in AA at age 25, enthusiasm should be a bit tempered, to say the least.

Still, with so few position players in the Phillies organization to get excited about, Ruf’s red-hot start should at the very least be mentioned and monitored.

In 81 ABs, Ruf has 29 hits, six of them doubles and two of them home runs. He’s scored 14 runs and knocked in 10. He’s getting on base at a .402 clip, slugging .526, and sporting an OPS of .928.

It’s early, but the kid is on fire.

Interestingly, these numbers are not unusual for Ruf. In four minor league seasons, all below AA, he has a career slash line of .305/.378/.481 and an OPS of .859. Last year, in a full season at Clearwater, he hit .308/.388/.506 for an OPS of .894, with 17 HRs and 43 2Bs in 554 PAs.

At 6’3″ and 220 pounds, he’s a big kid, taken in the 20th round by the Phillies back in 2009. As noted last year when Ruf was playing with Clearwater, he was a two-time Gold Glove first baseman at Creighton, but started playing left field with the Threshers because Jonathan Singleton was playing first. When Singleton was traded in the Hunter Pence deal, Ruf moved back to his natural position. He’s a right-handed batter and won the Joe Carter Award as the Missouri Valley Conference player of the year as a sophomore.

Now we all know the Phillies are more apt to go after a toolsy outfielder with no college experience, someone raw they can develop and hope will become a superstar. But there’s something to be said for going with the established college standout who played all four years for a big-time school.

Ruf has done nothing but put up solid numbers at every location he’s been so far. Reading is just the latest. One would think, if Ryan Howard’s return gets delayed again, the Phillies might take a serious look at moving Ruf up the AAA sooner rather than later. Because with the offense struggling the way it is, an infusion of talent is sorely needed.

But of course, that’s putting the cart before the horse. Ruf has just 24 games under his belt at the AA level. But so far, he’s doing what he’s always done for the Phils minor league affiliates.

Hit the baseball.

It should be noted that Ruf is currently blocked by another hot-hitting 1B prospect. Cody Overbeck, who will turn 26 in June, is hitting .313/.356/.458 for an OPS of .813, with 2 HRs, 14 RBIs and 10 runs scored for the LeHigh Valley Iron Pigs. If anyone is getting called up to the big club, Overbeck will get the nod before Ruf.

Until then, we’ll just have to keep an eye on Overbeck’s Twitter account, @codyoverbeck, He’s not the most prolific of tweeters, so we’ll have to monitor his page carefully for anything we can use against… er… I mean… to learn more about him.

On the mound, top prospect Trevor May continues to impress. On Monday night, May once again dominated, pitching 7 innings and giving up 8 hits, 2ER, 8 Ks and most importantly, no walks. May is now 5-0 with an ERA around 2.00 and is looking more and more like a sure bet to get a call-up to AAA at some point, probably late in the summer.

May’s hot start causes one to pondifercate (yes, I made up a word).

If Vance Worley continues to prove that, not only is he not going to regress, but improve, and May is actually a viable candidate for a rotation spot in 2013, might the Phillies think they have enough talent in the rotation that they can afford not to re-sign Cole Hamels, and instead use some of that money on a bat?

Again, that’s getting way ahead of ourselves, but Phillies President David Montgomery was in attendance for May’s fourth start of the year in Reading. So you know, the Phils brass is watching this kid with eyes wide open.

Speaking of May, the poor guy sounds like me during my freshman year of college, when my first roommate drank himself out of school, my second roommate was a Bosnian refugee (I swear, I’m not making that up), and everyone on my hall was either a drug dealer or the most socially awkward people on the face of the earth…

Not only that, Trevor lives in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Not exactly a hotbed of activity. But it is good to see Trevor’s keeping it all in perspective…

If you wrote in really, teeny, tiny letters, you might be able to pull it off.

Unfortunately, Jonathan Pettibone has not gotten off to a very good start for the Reading Phillies so far…

Lots of season left, of course. Plus, it doesn’t help when you’re playing baseball games in the freezing cold…

In my day, pitchers pitched in the snow. In bare feet. And the plate was 120 feet away. And we had to use raw cowhide that we took right off the back of a bovine we just slaughtered for supper that evenin’. We pooped in metal outhouses and used newspapers to shield us from the constant golf-ball-sized hail. And that’s the way it was and we LIKED IT!

Finally, Tyson Gillies, who is heating up after a slow start in Reading, gave us this nugget of joy this week…

Be sure to click on the pic. I… don’t… have… the… words.