Minor League Prospect Note: Darin Ruf, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies
Philadelphia Phillies first base prospect Darin Ruf is on a power tear for the Double-A Reading Phillies, homering in his fifth-straight game last night.
He's hitting .362/.422/.966 in August, including a .405/.444/1.024 in his last 10 games. Overall, he's hitting .313/.404/.596 this year, with 29 homers, 29 doubles, 57 walks, and 87 strikeouts in 418 at-bats. His 1.000 OPS ranks first in the pitching-oriented Eastern League by a wide margin, 139 points over his nearest competitor.
Ruf is a 6-3, 200 pound right-handed hitter and thrower, born July 28th, 1986. He was drafted in the 20th round in 2009 from Creighton University in Omaha. He's not toolsy and is already 26, but he's been an effective hitter at every level (he hit .308/.388/.506 in the difficult Florida State League last year) and on meritocratic grounds, he deserves to move up.
The problem is finding a position for him: he lacks the speed to play outfield, and while he's reliable at first base in terms of avoiding errors, he lacks range. His arm isn't bad; he's actually pitched a couple of times, but the lack of mobility is a big issue. There is also the little problem of being blocked in Philadelphia by Ryan Howard.
Ruf is old for a prospect at age 26, but I've been watching him since college and I think he has real juice in his bat. His biggest problem will be finding an opportunity, especially in an age of huge pitching staffs that make it harder for decent-but-not-star-caliber corner bats to find steady employment.