In early January of this year, Kman commented on the Jays’ decision to sign journeyman minor leaguer Randy Ruiz:
The Blue Jays recently signed longtime minor league Randy Ruiz to a contract. In my opinion, this is the best FA signing by the Jays this offseason. While the over-the-hill Matt Clement is expected for some reason to contribute positively to the big league club in 2009, Ruiz is purely a AAA padding move. Since the Jays basically got the boot from the International League due to poor play, beefing up the performance of their AAA club out in Vegas is a sound strategy and a rare forward looking move by Jays management.
Randy Ruiz is a career minor-leaguer (although he has had a brief 22 game cup of coffee) who has spent his last four years between AA and AAA in six different teams’ systems. His OPSs those four years have been 1.074, .870, .894 and .902. Very solid numbers, but I didn’t really take notice until I was doing an article updating the Las Vegas 51s.
Randy Ruiz is a SUPERSTAR. Forget Travis Snider or Adam Lind (well, not really) but Randy Ruiz is off to a torrid start for the Las Vegas 51s. The dude’s OPS is 1.310. 1.310!! In 6 games Randy is hitting .435 with 2 HR, 10 RBI and 20 TB. Ruiz carried Las Vegas to their first win of the season in their 6th game versus Salt Lake City.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the past of the hottest hitter in the Jays organization right now, shall we?
Randy Radames Ruiz was born on October 19, 1977 in Bronx, NY. He is a right handed 1B/DH who is 6’1″ and 240lbs. Ruiz was drafted in round 36 of the 1996 draft. Last season Ruiz batted .320 with 17 homers and 68 RBIs in 111 games at Triple-A Rochester and was named International League Rookie of the Year. Ruiz put together a 24-game hitting streak from June 22-July 18 and led the International League in batting average and finished third with 33 doubles. Randy was called up to Minnesota August 1, 2008 and wound up getting his first major league hit on his third at bat off of a pitch by starting pitcher Jeremy Sowers.
his MLB cup of coffee with Minnesota:
In 2005, Ruiz won the Eastern League batting title while playing with the Reading Phillies in the Philadelphia Phillies organization. During that season, he had two violations of the MLB substance abuse policy. He had to serve two suspensions, testing positive for an anabolic steroid. Failing the first drug test, he served a 15-day suspension. Before long came word that Ruiz had failed a second test, which would result in a 30 day suspension under the guidelines of the substance abuse policy. Ruiz appealed the suspension, arguing that he had taken an over the counter substance, which resulted in the positive test. The appeal was heard on Thursday and a day later, it was announced that the appeal had been denied and Ruiz would have to sit for 30 days.
So is Randy Ruiz the next Ryan Howard or Jack Cust? I say that not in the sense that he is going to hit 50HR or walk 150 times, but that he is a player who just straight mashes but is blocked from the bigs by a glut of players at his position.
From a previous MopUpDuty article:
Ryan Howard was stuck behind Jim Thome for years in Philly. During this time all he did was mash. At age 24, Howard was busy creating an OPS of over 1.000 between AA & AAA (including a .604 SLG in AAA) and was rewarded with only a late season call-up. At 25, he found himself back in AAA, with a 1.157 OPS. He was only given a chance with the Phils after an injury sidelined Thome mid-way through the 2005 season. Howard had to wait until 2006, at the age of 26 to get a full-time gig.
Jack Cust was drafted in 1997 and despite slugging his way throughout the minors, he was traded and released numerous times. During this time, his longest MLB stint was 73 AB in 2003. All the while, Cust was racking up homers (196 career minor league HR) and building a top notch OPS (.943 career minor league OPS). In 2006, at the age of 27, Cust put together a spectacular season, hitting 30 HR, racking up an OPS of 1.016 and walking an unheard of 143 times.
Both Howard and Cust proved to everyone that they were both just long-time, overlooked minor league prospects that needed a home and a chance. That’s the thing about baseball, you never know what is going to happen. An injury to Millar or Bautista and perhaps we will see Ruiz wearing a Jays cap in the future.