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More Thoughts on Darin Ruf's Defense

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More Thoughts on Darin Ruf's Glove

My comment yesterday about Darin Ruf and his defense drew an interesting counterpoint from Rob Anderson, the Sports information director at Creighton University. With Mr. Anderson's permission, I will quote his message to me in full.

Having seen nearly every one of Darin Ruf's home games in college at Creighton, I can assure you that your assessment of Ruf's defensive skills in college are off. You wrote that he "didn't thrill anyone with his defense", but it's actually quite the opposite.

Darin won two Rawlings Gold Gloves at first base while in college (2007, 2009). To this day, he remains the ONLY player in NCAA history to win multiple Gold Gloves at the Division I level at any position. He finished his career third in NCAA history in career putouts, just 38 shy of the record, a testament to his ability (and durability). While Darin was in college, Creighton set an NCAA record for the aluminum bat era (which dates to the early 1970's) for team fielding percentage, and Darin saved countless errors at first base with his ability to scoop balls out of the dirt.

I have not seen him play any games in the minors, so I do not know how he has played in the Phillies organization, but I promise you that he was an elite defender at the college level at first base.

Rob Anderson
Creighton University
Sports Information Director

I also saw Darin play in college (which is part of the reason I like him), although obviously not nearly as many times as Rob Anderson did.

Looking back at my old notes, I thought Ruf's mobility around the bag wasn't great in the games I saw, although I did note at the time that he had soft hands and was reliable in terms of avoiding errors. I was NOT aware that he had won two Rawlings Gold Gloves in college, and would certainly have noted that in my write-up yesterday if I had.

The buzz I had at draft time was that he was a non-toolsy player projected as an organization bat, which is why he lasted until the 20th round. That said, my statement that his defense in college didn't "thrill" anyone was inaccurate; his glove obviously impressed enough people for him to win the Gold Glove, not once, but twice. I regret my sloppy statement, and no slight to Darin or the Creighton baseball program was intended.

As for his defensive play in the minors, scouts don't seem thrilled about his range, and indeed his range factor at first base is low this year. On the other hand, his fielding percentages are usually very good. As I mentioned in the original write-up, Ruf's arm is decent enough that he's pitched a little in emergency situations, his error rate is low, he avoids mistakes, and he works hard.

For more about Darin's excellent college career, which included selection as Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year in 2007, check here. (warning .pdf).