#3. Darin Ruf
Prior to 2011, there was little chatter about Darin Ruf, whom the Phillies selected in the 20th round of the 2009 draft. He hit for average well through the short-season leagues as well as his debut in full-season ball at Low-A Lakewood.
Ruf started showing up on radars after hitting 17 home runs with High-A Clearwater while maintaining a .311 average. As a first baseman, power was requisite, and Ruf started to flash it.
In 2012, Ruf’s status as a prospect truly started to rise. Through July at AA Reading, Ruf had already surpassed his home run total from the previous year with 18.
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When August rolled around, Ruf truly took off. He hit 20 home runs in the month of August (no doubt with the assistance of Reading’s hitter-friendly environment) at one point hitting six home runs in five games. He drove in 36 runs that month as he launched himself into the prospect conversation.
With 38 home runs on the year, Ruf easily took home Eastern League MVP and Rookie of the Year honors. MiLB.com named him an organizational All-Star for the second year in a row.
When the rosters expanded in September, Ruf got a shot in the majors, hurtling AAA straight to the big-leagues. Ruf hit three more home runs in 37 plate appearances, showing off the power to the Philly faithful.
After starting 2013 in AAA, Ruf was back in the majors in 2013. He hit 14 home runs in 73 games, spending time at first as well as the corner outfield positions.
The following season was lost for Ruf due to injury, appearing in just 52 games for the Phillies. He struggled in those games, batting just .235 while striking out 27.4% of the time. He continued to struggle in 2015, again batting .235 with a below-average 94 wRC+.
Ruf started 2016 in a platoon with Ryan Howard, as Ruf battered lefties, but struggled to hit against righties with a career .204/.274/.360 hitting split against them. The platoon quickly went up in flames, with Ruf posting a meager .503 OPS against lefties and just .399 overall OPS this season.
In May, the Phillies demoted Ruf to AAA in favor of the hot-hitting Tommy Joseph. With Rhys Hoskins nipping at Ruf’s heels in AA, his time with the Phillies could be up sooner rather than later, especially as he continues to decline at the plate.
Next: No.2-The Hometown Kid