What to expect from Keibert Ruiz in Majors

August 16th, 2020

The Dodgers continue to bring victories and Top 100 Prospects to Los Angeles. While winning seven straight National League West titles since 2013, they've added Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, Julio Urías, Cody Bellinger, Alex Verdugo, Walker Buehler, Will Smith, Dustin May and Gavin Lux to their mix.

They're headed toward another division crown this year, with all of those former phenoms playing key roles with the exceptions of Verdugo (included in the Mookie Betts trade with the Red Sox in February) and Lux (at the alternate training site). The Dodgers added yet another Top 100 Prospect on Saturday when they promoted Keibert Ruiz (ranked No. 79) to fill in for Smith, who went on the 10-day injured list with neck inflammation.

Signed out of Venezuela for $140,000 on his 16th birthday in 2014, Ruiz initially attracted the Dodgers with his advanced defensive ability. He began to establish himself as one of the game's top catching prospects by batting .374/.412/.527 between two Rookie leagues in his U.S. debut two years later, then ranked third among all Minor League backstops in hitting (.316) when he reached full-season ball in 2017, moving to high Class A before he turned 19.

Ruiz leveled off a bit in Double-A in 2018 and '19, batting a combined .262/.328/.371 with 16 homers in 177 games, though he fared well in a brief Triple-A stint last season before breaking his right pinky in early August. He was optioned to Triple-A before Spring Training was shut down this March, and he reported late to Summer Camp and was placed on the 10-day injured list in July without any official explanation.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters that Ruiz had done a fantastic job of getting ready at the alternate training site, noting that he was doing a better job of backspinning the ball and getting on board with the club's signs and game-planning. Ruiz didn't play Saturday night against the Angels and will serve as a backup to Austin Barnes until Smith is ready to return. He offers the upside of an All-Star catcher but will require more polish to get there.

Here's our breakdown of Ruiz's tools on the 20-to-80 scouting scale, where 50 represents big league average ability:

Hit (55): Ruiz's most obvious skill is his ability to put the bat on the ball from both sides of the plate. A career .299 hitter with quality feel for the barrel, he has struck out in only nine percent of his professional plate appearances, including once in 40 trips in Triple-A last year. He makes contact so easily that it cuts into his walk rate, which is a paltry seven percent.

Power (45): Ruiz has yet to demonstrate that he can drive the ball consistently in the air, especially as a right-handed hitter. Of his 29 homers in pro ball, 27 have come as a lefty, and he has slugged just .341 as a righty. He possesses solid raw power but won't make the most of it unless he becomes more selective seeking pitches he can punish rather than effortlessly putting the ball in play.

Run (35): Typical of most catchers, the 6-foot, 225-pound Ruiz has well-below-average speed and isn't a factor on the bases. He has two triples and zero steals in three years in full-season ball.

Arm (50): Though Ruiz possesses average to solid arm strength, it doesn't always play that way because he lacks consistency with his throwing accuracy. He has erased just 23 percent of basestealers in low Class A and above.

Field (55): Ruiz is agile behind the plate, displays soft hands and frames pitches well. His receiving can get lackadaisical at times, leading to 26 passed balls in 242 games in full-season leagues.