4 Phillies players who skipped the minors and went straight to MLB
Dick Ruthven (1973)
Two decades after Tom Qualters bypassed the minors, Dick Ruthven did the same.
But unlike the previous three players on this list, Ruthven’s MLB career was much more than a cup of coffee. In his debut season, the righty made 25 appearances, including 23 starts, two games finished, three complete games, one shutout, and a save. The next year, he was a full-time starter with 35 games.
Following the 1975 season, the Phillies traded Ruthven to the Chicago White Sox, who promptly flipped him to the Atlanta Braves. He’d gone from pitching on the same team as Steve Carlton, to working in the same rotation as Phil Niekro.
In 1976, Ruthven was an All-Star with the Braves, though he’d also go on to lead the NL with 17 losses and a career-high 112 earned runs. By June 1978, he was back in Philly, just in time for the team to win a division and begin building towards greatness.
Ruthven’s name won’t be as familiar to younger Phillies fans as those of his teammates, a stellar cast of characters that included Carlton, Tug McGraw, and Mike Schmidt, but 1980 was one of the best seasons of his 14-year career. Over 33 regular-season starts, he compiled a 3.38 ERA and threw over 230 innings for the second time in his Phillies career. His performance played a key role in the first championship in franchise history. He even had a second All-Star season the following year, though he also led MLB in earned runs allowed.
After four years with the Chicago Cubs, where he played with former Phillies rookie Fergie Jenkins, Ruthven’s big-league career was over.
Honorary mention: Eppa Rixey
Eppa Rixey Jr. gets a nod because he skipped the minors, but he played baseball long before the official MLB draft began in 1965.
After getting discovered while playing college ball at the University of Virginia, where he earned a degree in chemistry, Rixey signed with the Phillies ahead of the 1912 season, rather than person a career as a chemist. He pitched for them in two stints, first from 1912-17, and again from 1919-20, after serving in the military. He was on their first pennant-winning team, and faced the Boston Red Sox in the 1915 World Series.
Ahead of the 1921 season, the Phillies traded him to the Cincinnati Reds, where he pitched until 1933.
By all accounts, Rixey was popular among his teammates, modest about his career, and a ‘consummate gentleman.” He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1963, but sadly, he passed away one month later, before he could enjoy his induction.