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Farm-Hand Fridays: Catching A Glimpse Of The Future in Keibert Ruiz

Every Friday we will be doing a profile and analysis of a farmhand for the Dodgers. We will look at their background, the kinds of future projections scouts generally have about them, associated risk with them booming or busting, and then our personal take on what they will most likely become as a ball player. We will do one a week up until pitchers and catchers report, and will be counting down our top ten prospects (more or less who we see to be our top ten).

Previous Prospects: #10 Dennis Santana; #9 Will Smith; #8 DJ Peters; #7 Yusniel Diaz; #6 Jeren Kendall#5 Mitchell White; #4 Yadier Alvarez

Today we are covering our #3 prospect Keibert Ruiz.

The Basics

  • Name: Keibert Ruiz
  • DOB/Age: July 20, 1998 / 19 years old
  • Height/Weight: 6’0″ / 200lbs
  • Home State/Country: Venezuela
  • Highest Level Reached: A+ Rancho Cucamonga
  • On the 40-Man Roster: No
  • ETA: 2020

Other Notable Rankings

  • Baseball America: #3
  • Baseball Prospectus: #4
  • MLB.com: #6*
  • TrueBlueLA: #3
  • Dodgers Digest: #14 (mid 2017-season)

*MLB.com has released their pre-2018 season top 100 prospects list, but not a new list for the Dodgers top 30. Ruiz is very likely to leap frog over Yadier Alvarez, Jeren Kendall, and Mitchell White as he is listed on their Top 100 list, but none of the other 3 are.

Risk Level

(1-10, with 1 being very low, and 10 being very high)

5 – Keibert Ruiz, yes despite extremely strong showings over the past few seasons while being so much younger than his competition, is still not a sure thing. Many may not remember the name Julian Leon, who was signed along with Julio Urias back in 2012. He generated lots of excitement putting up an impressive .332/.420/.565 as an 18 year old in Rookie-level Ogden. However in subsequent years, he had much less success, and is now out of the organization entirely.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJm-dIVU8OA

Ruiz has seen more sustained success at higher levels, so there is much more hope for him. But as we’ve seen before, there is still risk associated with him because he is so young. There definitely appears to be an extremely high ceiling with Ruiz, so there is a lot of excitement surrounding him. But as stated above, he is still only 19 years old He has also only reached A+ in his first three years with the organization. We can only hope he continues to take steps forward and none backwards.

The Past

The Dodgers have a spoil of riches at catcher. Out of all the teams in the league, they arguably have the most depth at catcher. Both at the Major League level as well as the farm system. It is an amazing thing to say that a 19 year old, who hasn’t gone above A+ Rancho Cucamonga is the most exciting catcher for a contending team. Grandal is more than likely gone after this season, and while Barnes is solid what drives his value is his defense and high-floor. Fellow prospect Kyle Farmer is solid, but unspectacular thus far. And other prospects like Smith and Wong have yet to generate the excitement Ruiz does.

Keibert Ruiz was signed in 2014 out of Venezuela as a 16 year old – on his birthday in fact. He immediately made a great first impression in 2015 by slashing .300/.340/.387 and showing a good feel behind the plate. What really vaulted him up in prospect rankings was his 2016 performance. Hitting an unbelievable .374/.412/.527, Ruiz showed an incredibly discerning batting eye and knack for making good contact. Not only that, but his defense continued to make strides forward and impress scouts.

The Present

Fast forward to 2017, and Ruiz just continued to pour it on. While his triple-slash of .316/.361/.452 wasn’t as eye popping as 2016, he still showed that great contact approach as he advanced through the system. By years end he reached A+ Rancho Cucamonga where he was over 4 1/2 years younger than his average competition. Not only that, but his OPS increased by 45 points from single A Great Lakes to A+ RC.

From all scouting reports, his defensive skills continued to progress and there is no question he can handle catching duties. The one area of his defense that is lacking is his arm strength. While he has displayed pinpoint accuracy, Ruiz’ arm strength is not quite there. This is also evidenced by his slightly below average raw power offensively. It is important to remember Ruiz will still only be 19 years until this coming July. And there is a pretty good chance he will be in AA by then.

The Future

Because of his continual progression of skills and his keen hitting ability, he is now cracking many Top 100 prospect lists pre-2018. And he stands a great chance to move up even higher on those lists throughout the season. There is even a strong chance he will end up as the #1 Dodgers prospect by years end. Small caveat, that will be mostly due to whether or not both prospects ahead of him (hint, hint) graduate this list by year’s end.

Certainly Ruiz will start the year in A+. And he is going to even have a chance to show his mettle as a non-roster invitee this Spring Training. With a strong enough showing he may even start the year at AA and crack AAA by year’s end. Presently he is likely to make his debut in 2020. But there is enough reason to believe that his skills may warrant his debut in 2019, or even a small cameo at the end of this coming season.

Keibert Ruiz’s floor is still quite high. His defensive skills would translate well enough to handle everyday duties. And his contact skills might ultimately make him a slightly below average offensive catcher. There are many catchers like that in the league. Where Ruiz truly could be special is a catcher with excellent defense, that can also hit well over .300 and even pop out double-digit home-run totals. The best comp that comes to my mind would be prime years (2011-2013) Yadier Molina. During those seasons Molina hit .313/.361/.481 while giving some of the best defense behind the dish. Ruiz has that type of potential for sure, and if he reaches it he would be the best homegrown Dodgers’ catcher since Mike Piazza.

No pressure kid.

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Written by Blake Coble

Born and raised in SoCal and bled Blue my whole life. Absolutely love baseball and absolutely love the Boys in Blue! I have a fascination with analyzing the statistics and trends that drive player performance, and I love following our minor league prospects as well! Active duty Air Force currently stationed in Central California! Follow me on Twitter @yarritsblake

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