When Keibert Ruiz steps into the batters box on Sunday afternoon, it will be his first major-league at bat. Yesterday, the Dodgers announced they’d be recalling the 22-year-old catcher and placing Will Smith on the Injured List.
Ruiz is the No. 3 prospect in the Dodgers’ organization, and is a top 100 prospect in all of baseball. Manager Dave Roberts is looking forward to seeing what the rookie will be able to do.
“The exciting thing is you got a young player making his MLB debut,” Roberts said when asked about Ruiz getting the start. “He’s homegrown. I’m so excited for his wife and his baby and his family back in Venezuela. Keibert has really grown. To have a pitcher he’s familiar with [Dustin May], there’s familiarity there, he’s caught him 30 times.”
The Dodgers signed Ruiz to a minor-league contract back in June of 2014. It’s taken six years to get to this point, but Ruiz is more than ready.
Over the course of his minor-league career, Ruiz hit .299 with an OPS of 772. He hit 29 homes and drove in 199 runs. What will make Ruiz so valuable is the fact that he’s a switch hitter.
“The challenge is making sure he doesn’t try to do anything different,” Roberts said about what we can expect from Ruiz. “We’ve dipped his feet in over the months. It’s going to speed up at some time. He’s not going to be perfect, he’s not a finished product, but its an exciting time.
“I think the one thing I like is we don’t worry about the inexperience. If they can perform at this level, they’ve earned it We don’t have a problem running them out there. You have a good shot at success.”
Roberts said it’s going to take some time for Ruiz to get comfortable on the defensive side. He’ll have to learn from the pitchers, which he can only do by getting reps. On the offensive side, he think he needs to clean up a few things from the right side of the box. Roberts said the left side has gotten a lot better.
“There’s always been a lot of contact,” Roberts said. “He’s always performed much better than his age at the level he’s at.”
Ruiz is hitting 9th in the lineup today.