The legend of Darin Ruf exploded in Reading, Pennsylvania last summer. After mashing more than 50 combined baseballs in Double-A, the major leagues and in the Venezuelan league, this 26-year-old has the potential to emerge as the Philadelphia Phillies‘ new baby face of the franchise this season.
“Babe Ruf” hit so many home runs that the Phillies shifted his position to left field late in his minor league season. From personal observation at Reading’s minor league stadium, I can attest to the fact that Ruf manned his position well. If Greg Luzinski and Pat Burrell were able to fully transition to that part of the field, so can he.
Ruf’s positioning, ability to track the ball, arm strength and accuracy are fine. Of course, playing through the tail end of the Reading Phillies‘ season is far different than the the major league grind. So, his currently projected platoon role should enable the best chance for him to succeed in 2013.
A sizable chunk of this digital space has been allocated to Ruf’s ability to wear his mitt. That was done because Domonic Brown’s outfield adventures in 2010 and 2011 rightly caused many people to wonder if he could actually survive in the major leagues.
Last season Brown quietly posted a 1.000 fielding percentage in 51 games. That marked improvement matters. Ruf also had a 1.000 fielding percentage, but he only played six games in left field and three at first base.
At this point in time it appears as though Ruf has already passed Brown in the “potential” parade. But, baseball is such a fluid game that either young man could head in any direction, or a similar direction, as 162 games are slowly checked off this season.
Some might wager that Ruf will make an impact in the Phillies’ lineup this season. Others might choose to believe that the native Nebraskan will spend the majority of the year in Triple-A. Both opinions have merit.
General manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. still has time and the necessary payroll space to insert an additional veteran into his 2013 outfield plans. But we mustn’t forget that Ruf’s swing is unnaturally sweet. If his bat sings in the spring, he’s almost certain to travel north with the other 24 men who will also be on the Phillies’ big league roster.