Red Barons beat writer Chad Jennings of the Times-Tribune in Scranton checks in with his thoughts on Beerleaguer favorite son, Carlos Ruiz.
Beerleaguer: Readers of this space know I’m a fan of catcher Carlos Ruiz. He had some great slugging numbers in Reading and it continues this season up in Moosic. On paper, it certainly looks like he has a chance to produce in the majors, at least as a backup.
What are your thoughts on Chooch? Is he healthy, and does he figure into the long-term plans of the Phils?
Chad Jennings: I would call Carlos a guy who intrigues the Phillies. I don't think they are banking on him as their catcher of the future, but he's certainly done enough to keep the team's attention.
He's aggressive to the point of occasionally being reckless behind the plate. He's always trying to pick guys off at first, third and even second base. I'm not saying that's a bad thing -- when's the last time you could call a guy "exciting" to watch catch? -- but I bet the Phillies would like to see him calm down a little back there. That said, he has a strong arm. He's thrown out 10 and allowed 19 steals. Not great, but not bad.
As a hitter he's got just enough pop and just enough speed for extra bases. Just look at his seven triples this year. I don't think he'll ever be a true home run threat, but he's not a slap singles guy either. Thing is, it's impossible to say whether he can hit like that in the big leagues. There have been times he's looked overmatched at this level. But you're right, his slugging numbers are impressive for a catcher. He hasn't really done anything to suggest he can't hit in the majors, just hasn't done enough to make it a sure thing that he can.
You asked about the time at DH. I don't think that's an indication of his health, rather an indication of Gene Lamont wanting to get A.J. Hinch in the game but keep Ruiz in the lineup. He moves around on that knee just fine.
A couple of things to remember about Ruiz:
1. He's a converted infielder. He was a second baseman in Panama but the Phillies tried him behind the plate and signed him as a catcher, despite the fact he'd never really played there.
2. This is his seventh year in the organization and he's 26 years old. He's not particularly young for this level and most of the kinks should be worked out. He needs to get to the big leagues pretty soon.
I think he'll get a legitimate shot in spring training next year. Maybe not to start, but to be the No. 2 guy. His numbers the past two years have been pretty impressive, but before that his numbers were so-so at best. I think that's why there are still questions about his ability to play at the next level. Is he played beyond his ability right now or was he playing below his ability back then?
Personally, I think he can play in the big leagues in some capacity. I hope he gets a shot fairly soon. There is definitely not another catcher in the system who is remotely close to playing in Philadelphia, and the Phillies are going to need a catcher pretty soon.
Contact Chad Jennings at email@example.com.