BLUF: You can dream enough to see a classic third base profile with solid defense, a good arm and power.
The Player: Rio Ruiz (3B, Houston Astros) – Houston picked Ruiz in the 4th round in June 2012, giving him an over-slot bonus of $1.85 million to sign and forego his commitment to college. Assigned to the Gulf Coast League out of the gate, he batted .271/.361/.412 in 23 games before a promotion to the Appalachian League. He struggled against slightly better competition, hitting just .220/.291/.380 in 15 games.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Industry Contacts
Body (6-1, 180): Naturally strong and a solid athlete. Was a good football player with Division I aspirations on the gridiron. Lacks premium physicality but has frame for a classicly strong, well-built third baseman or corner outfielder.
Hit: Excellent hands. Controls the barrel of the bat well. Knack for hard contact and shows ability to drive ball to all fields with ease. Plus bat speed. Demonstrates ability to turn on balls and take outside pitches to other parts of the field. Catches up to velo well. Doesn’t track breaking pitches that well right now but has hitting instincts to suggest improvement down the line. Aggressive swinger that likes to hit and needs to curtail approach at the plate. Will get himself out at times rather than waiting for a pitch he can rip. Potential average hitter with development. Grade – 30/50
Power: Bat speed and natural plus strength show up in batting practice. Raw score could increase with additional physical maturation. Finds the sweet spot of the bat consistently and has good ability to drive the ball. Needs to continue adding loft to swing to maximize home-run power. Approach limits play of raw power in game situations. Average raw now. Could develop plus raw with average play down the line. Grade (raw power) – 50/60
Arm: Short arm action but plenty of velocity. When feet are set, shows easy plus arm. Accuracy must improve and should with repetition. Grade – 60/60
Fielding: Reports varied wildly. Not a fast-twitch guy so reactions can be a bit slow on hard-hit balls. Lacks range to the glove side but not a major problem. Solid hands and footwork that flashes at the level he will need it long term. Makes most routine plays. Needs work when he’s on the move. Can get a little overly aggressive at times and needs to learn what plays he can make and what ones he can’t. Has average to slightly above-average potential long term. Has enough athleticism to handle right field if 3B doesn’t work out. Grade – 40/50
Speed: Below-average runner from home to first. Lack of speed also showed in the field (shortstop) as an amateur. Shouldn’t impact defense at 3B. Won’t increase speed with physical maturity and could actually lose a step if the body fills out as some project. Grade – 40/30
Summation: Solid offensive and defensive tools across the board. Has some plus potential with power. Could hit .270-.280 with 20 home runs annually. Potential 5th or 6th hitter in big league lineup. Swing mechanics are conducive to contact but approach can lead to swing and miss. Chases out of the zone and will make weak contact on borderline pitches. Needs to tighten approach for natural hitting ability and power to play. Has tools to be a solid defender at third base with a plus arm. Needs to develop and improve footwork and overall consistency. Raw player that has missed time due to injuries (hyper extended knee and blood clot in neck) but it’s too soon to call him injury prone given past with football. Potential solid regular.
Relative Risk: High. Very early in the developmental process with a long way to go to bridge gap between present and projection.
Future: Should compete for a full-season job in Lexington next year and given the Astros willingness to send high school picks to Low-A in past years, such an assignment seems likely here. Will require time to develop and could be 4-5 years from the Major Leagues.