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2021 Dodgers in review: Keibert Ruiz

The Dodgers traded their No. 1 prospect at the trade deadline

MLB: Game One-Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

For many years, Keibert Ruiz has been viewed as the Dodgers’ top prospect in their organization. He’s been ranked as their No. 1 prospect by most outlets and has been ranked in MLB’s Top 100 list for a few seasons.

However, the Dodgers already had a top tier catcher in Will Smith, making Ruiz the odd-man out. After years of trade rumors, the Dodgers finally parted ways with Ruiz in July of 2021. They traded him, along with top pitching prospect Josiah Gray and two other prospects for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner.

It’s a trade you make 100 percent of the time. With that being said, it was still rough to see Ruiz go.

He didn’t get much of a chance with LA in 2021, largely due to the Dodgers having two above average catchers already. Ruiz was recalled in early May, where he appeared in a total of six games and had only seven at bats.

In his first plate appearance of the season, Ruiz crushed a home run at Wrigley Field. It would be his lone hit with LA on the season and it turned out to be his last. He went 0-for-6 with five strikeouts over the next week before being sent back down.

All year long, Ruiz was killing it in Triple-A with Oklahoma City. In 52 games, he was hitting .311 with an OPS of 1.012. He had 16 home runs and 45 RBI and had nearly as many walks as strikeouts. He was one of the best hitters in all of AAA and he was doing it as a catcher.

Every week, a new Ruiz highlight would appear on Twitter, bringing excitement to every Dodgers fan. But deep down, many knew that he likely wouldn’t make it past the trade deadline.

On July 30, he was traded to the Washington Nationals in a blockbuster package.

While with Washington, Ruiz appeared in 23 games. He spent the first month of his Washington tenure in the minors before being called up on August 30. His time with the Nationals got off to a rough start, as he was hitting only .182 with a .507 OPS during his first 10 games.

Ruiz closed the season with a bang, showing Nationals fans how special he has the potential to be. Over the final three weeks of the season, Ruiz hit .396 with an OPS of above 1.000. He hit two home runs and drove in 10 runs. That wasn’t even the most impressive part. He showed his amazing plate discipline, as he struck out only once in 53 plate appearances.

Ruiz will be the Nationals’ starting catcher in 2022 and likely for many years after that.

2021 particulars

Age: 23

Stats: 1-for-7, 1 HR, 5 K (w/ LA) | .284 AVG, .743 OPS, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 3 2B, 105 OPS+ (w/ WSH)

Salary: $570,000

Game of the year

He didn’t have much of an opportunity, but Ruiz homered in his first at bat of the 2021 season on May 4 in Chicago with the Dodgers. Just like his MLB debut, in which he homered in his first big-league at bat.

Roster status

Ruiz is currently the starting catcher for the Washington Nationals.