When Ryan Howard first came up to the Philadelphia Phillies organization after tearing it up in the minors, it was due to a Jim Thome injury. Once he got called up to the big show, he never looked back and Thome was shipped elsewhere in favor of the young slugger.
We could be seeing a similar career path with new Phillies first baseman Darin Ruf. Ruf tore the cover off the ball in the minors last year with a monster 38 home runs a Phillies minor league record that surpassed even Howard’s total in his time in the minors. Ruf started off the year slower at Lehigh Valley this season but it could be due to him adjusting to Triple-A pitching and being bit by the injury bug.
Ruf is finally getting his opportunity with the Phillies unfortunately due to Howard’s torn meniscus that will see him out of action for six to eight weeks. In a way, this is a strikingly similar situation to the one seen with Howard and Thome when he took advantage of an injury. Ruf is hitting .400 in his brief time with the Phils this season and was hitting over .300 in limited at bats last year with the Phils. While he has yet to see his power numbers go up he is taking pitches and putting together solid professional at bats showing patience that frankly Howard has not this year.
Ruf has been called up due to some unfortunate circumstances. He will have every opportunity now to be the first baseman of the future. Injuries can sometimes be a blessing for a team in need of transition as was the case with Howard all those seasons ago. Ruf is now and could very well be manning first base for the Phillies for years to come.