Keibert Ruiz has been crushing baseballs in the Dodgers’ farm system since his professional debut in 2015 and has climbed his way up MLB Pipeline’s prospect rankings since his entry on the Dodgers’ Top 30 list in 2016. On Friday night, the slugging catcher did something on the diamond he had never done before.
Pipeline’s No. 41 overall prospect clubbed three homers for the first time in his long professional career, adding a double and a walk in a perfect 4-for-4 night at the plate. Ruiz tied a career high with five RBIs in Triple-A Oklahoma City’s 14-5 rout of Sugar Land. It was Ruiz’s fourth multihomer game of the season and the seventh of his career. It was also the first four-extra base-hit performance of his career.
“I was excited running the bases. I can’t believe it because I’ve never had that kind of game, four extra-base hits, three homers and a double,” said Ruiz.
The Dodgers’ top prospect started off the game by going back to back with leadoff hitter Steven Souza Jr., giving Oklahoma City an instant 2-0 lead with a no-doubter to right-field. The switch-hitter walked on four pitches in the second before blasting his second long ball of the night in the fourth inning, a two-run shot to put OKC up 6-1.
Ruiz drove in his fourth run of the night with his 15th double of the year in the sixth on a ball that one-hopped the wall in right-center, scoring Souza and spurring a five-run inning for OKC. In the seventh, the slugging catcher crushed his third homer of the night and 16th of the season to put the Dodgers up by 10. He exited the game in the eighth inning for a defensive replacement and got a well-earned rest of the night off.
“The last couple days, I was feeling like I was rushing a little bit with my body, trying to do too much. Today the plan was trying to hit a line drive to the middle,” said Ruiz.
The 23-year-old has been raking all season in Oklahoma City, slashing .309/.382/.644 with a 1.026 OPS in 212 plate appearances. Ruiz has 31 extra-base hits (15 doubles, 16 homers), has driven in 43 runs as the main offensive piece in OKC’s lineup and has showcased his selectiveness at the plate with 23 walks against 23 strikeouts. He has been consistently great offensively all season, with an .869 OPS in May, a .991 OPS in June and a 1.162 OPS thus far in July.
“In the offseason, I worked a lot on my swing, in the weight room too. I worked out a lot during Arizona," said Ruiz. “I fixed some mechanics righty and lefty, and I’m seeing the results now. I’m just going to keep going with my plan and with my approach, hitting it to the middle.”
Ruiz had a brief stint in the Majors from May 4 to May 16, crushing a pinch-hit, go-ahead, game-winning solo homer off of Kyle Hendricks in his season debut. With former fellow top catching prospect Will Smith firmly entrenched behind the plate for Los Angeles, Ruiz’s name has been thrown around in trade rumors as the July 30 Trade Deadline approaches.
“I just have to control what I can control and when the opportunity comes, try to do my best,” said Ruiz. “Work harder every day, keep doing what I’m doing, keep focus on my goals, my swing, my plan and just keep getting better as a player every day.”