The common thought that always kept me coming back to Esteury Ruiz was the fact that if he ever put it all together, he was going to be a fantasy goldmine. The stolen bases had always been there. There was a little pop, too. The strikeouts and the lack of walks held him back. Well, fast-forward to 2022 and all of those strikeouts are suddenly turning into walks and the results are some of the best in the entire minor leagues. He has 37 stolen bases in 48 games (as of June 3). He has a .478 on base percentage. He has 28 extra base hits. It truly appears that he has figured it out. Let’s look at some data that backs this up.
So what has happened? For one, there has been consistent growth. Ruiz has shown that he could improve on the strikeouts. It’s taken four years, granted, but the progress since 2018 has gone like this: 28.6% > 26.6% > 20.7% > 17.8%. This is encouraging, consistent growth and seems to be very sustainable. To make things even better, the hard contact % is up dramatically, from 18% in 2021 to a very impressive 30% in 2022. These two pieces of data really do suggest that we are seeing what happens to a young player that is able to consistently get better each year. It’s also a nice reminder that the breakout is sometimes quite prolonged. Not every prospect is going to Anthony Volpe his way into top 20 status.
The other thing is the power. When I started writing this piece, I was going to mention that he was showing only decent power through all of this. He must have hacked into my account because he smashed three home runs just this last week. So, I can’t even say that any more. We might see enough for 20 home runs in his prime, with a lot of 15/30 type of seasons mixed in for good measure. You just don’t see that much nowadays, but with the Padres he can easily get this with some playing time. This may be the hardest thing to actually get, but he may not give the Padres much of a choice if he continues on this pace.
Esteury Ruiz deserves a shot!!! https://t.co/K0k0Lu12wR
— SD☆The Next Wave (@TheNextWave2020) May 29, 2022
There are some red flags in all of this, however, that should be pointed out. For one, the BABIP is quite high at .402 and will likely normalize in the upcoming weeks. We probably still are not looking at a .300 hitter at the highest level, but the increase in OBP might make this point moot. Also, Ruiz still isn’t a great defender and despite coming up as an infielder early, he is clearly a corner outfielder with a weak arm to boot. Luckily, he is running wild on the bases as the Padres continue to be very aggressive with the stolen bases at all levels of the organization. There are also multiple ways for Ruiz to find his way up to the big leagues soon and if he is able to settle in with consistent playing time we are going to perhaps get a fantasy stud.
The Esteury Ruiz breakout is one that a lot of people didn’t see coming, including myself. That is what happens when players show small gains in different areas over many years. It’s also a nice reminder of prospect fatigue as Ruiz was highly regarded (as high as #16 for me in 2021) and was always mentioned as having great tools. The phrase “if he can put it all together” was repeated throughout the years. When it didn’t happen right away, people seemed to forget about him. Don’t be that guy! As fast as people jumped off the bandwagon, they should jump back on the Ruiz train immediately.
My goal is to provide an unique perspective when it comes to baseball so that readers can have the information and insight, as well as a bold and progressive analysis. I trust the analytics, but I also trust my eyes when I see the player perform on the field. I don’t want to regurgitate the same, old information but rather I want to give my opinion that is based on research and well-developed thought. Baseball is a game on intricacies and delicate balances and I want to explore every facet that I can. Here on Prospects1500 I will give you the inside scoop on the prospects so that you get to know who they are before everyone else. I won’t always be right, but I can promise my logic and dedication will be sound. Feel free to reach out to discuss and debate and let’s get to prospecting!