LOS ANGELES -- He is the highest-ranked Dodgers prospect at his position as determined by MLB Pipeline, and his name isn't Walker Buehler or Alex Verdugo.If you aren't familiar with catcher Keibert Ruiz, the Dodgers believe you will be fairly soon. Ruiz is the No. 3 ranked catching prospect, and
LOS ANGELES -- He is the highest-ranked Dodgers prospect at his position as determined by MLB Pipeline, and his name isn't Walker Buehler or Alex Verdugo.
If you aren't familiar with catcher Keibert Ruiz, the Dodgers believe you will be fairly soon. Ruiz is the No. 3 ranked catching prospect, and with veteran Yasmani Grandal eligible for free agency after the 2018 season, Ruiz could be a Dodger sooner rather than later to join Austin Barnes -- although 2019 is probably the best-case scenario for the backstop's big league arrival.
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Ruiz is 6 feet, 200 pounds and only 19, signed out of Venezuela at age 16 for $140,000. The switch-hitter split time at both Class A levels in 2017, batting a composite .316 with an .813 OPS while displaying catching skills beyond his years. He is the sixth-ranked prospect in the organization, per MLB Pipeline.
Ruiz might have the highest upside in a deep group of young Dodgers catchers, as four of their top 25 prospects are behind the plate (22-year-old Will Smith, 27-year-old James Farmer and 21-year-old Connor Wong are the others). Being the youngest of the four, Ruiz might return to Class A to start the 2018 season.
MLB Pipeline's scouting report of Ruiz reads: "A switch-hitter, Ruiz shows more pop from the left side and a more contact-oriented approach from the right side. He has precocious feel to hit and makes consistent contact rather than trying to do too much. As he gets stronger, he could develop double-digit home run power.
"Ruiz is even more advanced as a defender, displaying soft hands and impressive receiving ability for a teenager. His arm strength is just fringy, but should become average as he continues to mature physically, and it plays up because he has quick feet and makes accurate throws."
Ranking ahead of Ruiz on the MLB Pipeline catchers list are Francisco Mejia of Cleveland and Carson Kelly of St. Louis.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.