Dynamic Ruiz could stay up after Garcia returns

Braves considering third-base platoon or using Garcia in bench role

May 23rd, 2017

ATLANTA -- As prepares to return from the disabled list and continues to make a case he should remain at the Major League level, the Braves may soon have to decide how they will use these two third basemen.

Garcia, who has spent the past week on the disabled list with left Achilles tendinitis, is expected to be ready for activation when he becomes eligible Friday. Once he returns, there's a chance he'll have to platoon with Ruiz, a talented, left-handed-hitting prospect who would get a majority of the starts at third base under this arrangement.

The Braves have not firmly decided that they will continue to carry Ruiz once Garcia returns. But there's certainly reason to believe they would favor this decision over keeping both and Danny Santana, a pair of utility players who offer sub-standard offensive value.

Along with tallying just five hits in 32 at-bats this year, Bonifacio has compiled a staggering .421 OPS since the start of the 2015 season. Santana has gone 0-for-17 since being acquired from the Twins earlier this month. Both players would have to be designated for assignment in order to be removed from Atlanta's active roster.

One thing is certain: The Braves will not keep Ruiz on Atlanta's roster to strengthen their bench.

Thus, if Ruiz remains at the big league level, Garcia may have to adjust to a role slightly different than the one he has filled as Atlanta's primary third baseman since the start of last season.

Garcia has batted .237, with four homers and a .626 OPS over 144 plate appearances this year. He ranks last among MLB's 27 qualified third basemen in both fWAR (-0.5) and wRC+ (65).

Now that Ruiz is already up, the Braves might take advantage of this opportunity to take a new look at third base and get a better feel about who might be filling the position next season and beyond.

Ruiz endeared himself to Braves fans Saturday, hitting his first career home run off Max Scherzer. The 23-year-old prospect hit .262, with four home runs, 40 strikeouts and just nine walks in 151 plate appearances for Triple-A Gwinnett this year.

Ruiz could undoubtedly benefit from more development as he attempts to halt his struggles against left-handed pitchers, who limited him to .211 (8-for-38) batting average in Gwinnet this year.

But his regular presence in the lineup could serve as an upgrade, and Garcia's availability off the bench would give manager Brian Snitker a better offensive option than Bonifacio or Santana.