Phillies plan to look at Darin Ruf in left field
At Double-A Reading (Pa.), he was recognized by t-shirts sold in the gift shop that read “Babe Ruf.” As recently as last year, he had progressed no further than advanced Single-A Clearwater, though it was his third season in the system. On Monday, Darin Ruf relished the latest highlight of a memorable year that saw him earn 2012 Minor League home run king status. The 26-year-old first baseman/left fielder was called up by the Philadelphia Phillies.
A 20th round pick out of Creighton University in 2009, Ruf is considered a “late bloomer” who has yet to play an inning in Triple-A. Once blocked by Ryan Howard (who is still Philadelphia’s first baseman for the long term) and top prospect Jonathan Singleton (who plays first base and left field), Ruf was given an opening when Singleton was included in the deal that sent Hunter Pence from Houston to the Phillies in July 2011.
At Clearwater last season, Ruf hit .308 with 17 home runs and 82 RBI with 43 doubles and a .894 OPS. Typically, the jump from advanced Single-A to Double-A is the most challenging in the minors. Ruf found Eastern League pitching appetizing. He belted 38 home runs, breaking Howard’s single-season organizational record of 37 (set in 2004). Ruf hit one more home run than Kansas City Royals’ top prospect Wil Myers to lead the minors. He also batted .318 with a .620 slugging percentage, a 1.028 OPS and 104 RBI at Reading.
With Howard entrenched at first base, the Phillies plan to look at Ruf in left field to gauge if he will be Major League ready for 2013. At 70-71, Philadelphia has worked its way within 5.5 games of the second National League wild card spot, so Ruf’s at-bats and time in left field could be determined by the team’s performance over the next week. At the least, he provides manager Charlie Manuel with a right-handed bat with pop off the bench.