When our other prospect writers submit scouting reports, I will provide a short background and industry consensus tool grades. There are two reasons for this: 1) giving context to account for the writer seeing a bad outing (never threw his changeup, coming back from injury, etc.) and 2) not making him go on about the player’s background or speculate about what may have happened in other outings.
The writer still grades the tools based on what they saw, I’m just letting the reader know what he would’ve seen in many other games from this season, particularly with young players that may be fatigued late in the season. The grades are presented as present/future on the 20-80 scouting scale and very shortly I’ll publish a series going into more depth explaining these grades. -Kiley
Rio Ruiz, 3B, Lancaster JetHawks (HOU, High-A – most recently viewed 9/08 at Inland Empire)
Ruiz came to the Astros for an overslot $1.85 million with the money they saved going underslot on Carlos Correa as the #1 overall pick in 2012. Ruiz slipped to the 4th round after being in the top 50 picks discussion early in the spring due to a blood clot in his neck that prematurely ended his season. He was also a standout quarterback in high school which shows with his above average arm strength, but the 6’2/215 lefty hitter isn’t a traditionally great athlete.
Ruiz is a 40 runner with fringy range that limits his defensive upside, though it looks right now like he’ll be able to stay at the hot corner, with the average raw power to profile. The carrying tool is the bat and Ruiz took a step forward statistically in 2014, but some scouts would like to see him do it outside of the Cal League before throwing a 60 on his hit tool. Between his deep hand load, the power not showing up completely in games and the lack of big tools like plus bat speed, scouts still have questions and Ruiz could answer some of them in Double-A in 2015.
Hit: 20/55, Game Power: 20/50, Raw Power: 50/50, Run: 40/40, Field: 40/50, Throw: 55/55, FV: 50 –Kiley
Rio Ruiz is one of several promising talents the Houston Astros acquired through the 2012 amateur draft, and the 20-year-old is among the most advanced. The Astros could have their long-term answer at the hot corner in Ruiz, who is quickly turning his tools into skills at the plate while displaying an approach beyond his years.
Ruiz possesses great feel for his swing, as he does a fine job of repeating it with minimal effort, whether it’s in the batting cage or during live games. He generates above-average bat speed from his quick, strong hands. The swing is leveled and he does a great job of keeping his weight back. This allows him to track the baseball longer as well as identify and barrel pitches of all types.
The issue I have with Ruiz’s swing is at the end of the load. After his hands move back, they will then move up as his hands rotate backwards and a “pinch” with his back elbow. This is just lengthening the bat path and not allowing him to be direct to the baseball. At the same time, his back hip is moving around, and can put him in an awkward situation at times.
It hasn’t been a problem for him yet, thanks to the athleticism and bat speed, but he will likely need to make adjustments going forward, or it may just be a solid bat as opposed to an above-average one.
Game Power: 20/50, Raw Power: 50/50
Ruiz displays just average raw power during batting, and it doesn’t project to get any better than that. Though he is only 20 years of age, Ruiz possesses a mature frame that he’s just about finished filling out. Also, the swing path is leveled and linear without much loft or of an uppercut to project for additional power. However, he projects to get to all of his raw power in games, by making a healthy amount of hard contact as a line drive hitter.
Run: 40/40, Field: 40/45+, Throw: 60/60
It’s difficult to get a read on how well Ruiz runs, even on digs, as he rarely gets out of the box well and into top speed quickly. When he does, there’s a good chance he’ll shut it down two to three steps before touching the first base bag. The best run times I have clocked him at are just 35-grade times, but he does move about a half-grade better than that by the eye test.
In the field, Ruiz is a work-in-progress. The footwork can get sloppy when moving side-to-side and the speed isn’t great. But he’s athletic enough to stick there and the former high school quarterback can show you plus arm strength when he needs to unleash a throw across the diamond. I will often wonder about his defensive positioning, but that’s an easier fix.
There’s reason to believe Ruiz can be a .270 hitter with home run production in the mid-teens. His patient, mature approach will allow him to get to the big leagues and to his ceiling of an average big league regular quicker than most. He should also help create additional value through walks. But doesn’t have great secondary tools, though, as he’s a below-average runner with just enough defense to stick at the hot corner. So, it’s all about the bat.