Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ruf's bat powers Reading in playoff chase

PBR - Darin Ruf may not be a household name in Philadelphia yet, but he's certainly become a fan favorite in Reading.

Selected by the Phillies in the 20th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, Ruf has put together some impressive numbers over four minor league seasons but this season is shaping up to be his best yet. The first baseman leads the Reading Phillies in almost every offensive category and has been on a tear since the start of the month, hitting .350 with 11 home runs and 16 RBIs over the last 15 games.

Ruf homered again on Wednesday night in a 6-5 loss to Trenton. The two-run blast was his 29th of the season. 

"It's impressive," manager Dusty Wathan told the Reading Eagle. "It's as hot as I've ever really seen anybody in person. I don't know what to say. He's just locked in."

Ruf's 29 home runs is seven better than anyone else at the Double-A level. He also leads all Double-A players in on-base plus slugging (.997) and slugging (.592). His 29 homers is the most a Reading player has hit since Ryan Howard launched 37 in 2004 and his success is also a major reason why Reading is battling the New Britain Rock Cats for a spot in the Eastern League playoffs.

Ruf celebrated his 26th birthday last month, so the time for him to make a lasting impression is now. Over four seasons in the minors he's hitting .304 with 58 home runs and 262 RBIs. 

"He has great tools, but it's a matter of putting everything together and finding a good fit," a scout told The Review. "He's blocked by [Ryan] Howard at first base, so the outfield is probably the only place he'll make an impact at in Philly."

Ruf has played the outfield 16 times this season, including left field on Wednesday night, and has not committed an error.  

"He can excel," Wathan said. "It's all about getting the chance now."

- Patrick Gordon  is the editor of the Philadelphia Baseball Review. Contact him at pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com or @Philabaseball on Twitter.

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