2020 Dodgers Top 100 Prospects: No. 6, C Keibert Ruiz

Phot: Stacie Wheeler

Next up in the Dodgers Top 100 prospect countdown is someone who checked in much higher last year (No. 2) in Keibert Ruiz. Despite the down season, there’s still plenty of hope for the young catcher.

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Previous Entries

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I’ve included Future Value (FV) grades and risks for the Top 50 prospects. For example, if a guy gets a “50 low,” he has a really good chance to be an average player at his position. If a guy gets a “55/High,” there’s a good chance he won’t reach that ceiling, but the potential is there. The grades are 20-80 (50 is average), and the risks are as follows:

  • Low: Players who are usually older, have debuted, are relievers and/or have higher floors than ceilings
  • Medium: Players who are a mix of younger and older, usually have higher floors
  • High: Players who are usually younger with potential, but also question marks
  • Extreme: Players who are generally younger with star potential, but a ton of question marks

This is to show what value a player might provide at the MLB level. The higher the risk, the less likely a player will reach that ceiling.

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Editor’s Note: I am not a scout (#notascout). I am an amateur when it comes to evaluating players. I don’t claim to be a pro, I just want to pass along the information I observe/obtain to the people. Notes and comments are based on personal observation, talking to sources, reading scouting reports and watching video. For future entries in this series: All ratings in the charts below are on the standard 20-80 scouting scale, where 50 is roughly average, 80 is elite and nearly unattainable and 20 is unacceptably poor. Enjoy.

Other Notes: “Role” is a realistic future role (slightly optimistic in some cases). Age is the 2020 season age for the player (June 30 is the cutoff date).

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Rating Key

80 — Elite
75 — Borderline Elite
70 — Plus-plus
60-65 — Plus
55 — Above-average
50 — Average
45 — Fringe-average
40 — Below-average
30-35 — Poor
20-25 — Very Poor

6. Keibert Ruiz

DOB: 7/20/98Age: 21Height: 6’0Weight: 200Bats: SwitchThrows: RightPosition: C

Acquired: International free agent (Venezuela), July 2014, $140,000 signing bonus

Physical description: Solid frame, thick lower half

Strengths: Elite hand-eye/strike zone judgment, doesn’t strikeout, good framer

Weaknesses: Right-handed bat lacking, questionable power, throwing issues

Key statistics: .261/.333/.347, 8.6 BB%, 6.3 K%, .086 ISO (AA/AAA)

Role: First-division catcher

Player comparison: Victor Martinez

Summary: Ruiz was trending upward after the 2017 season after posting a .316/.361/.452 batting line as an 18-year-old in A-ball. Since then, he hasn’t continued that upward trend, and he took a bit of a step back in 2019. He repeated Double-A, partly because Will Smith was in Triple-A, before a late-season promotion to Oklahoma City. He only had 40 plate appearances with OKC because of a broken finger. He may have been a bit complacent having to repeat a level (and he wouldn’t be the first prospect guilty of that), but he still managed just a .659 OPS at Tulsa. With OKC, he showed signs of breaking out of it (.316/.350/.474), but his batted ball data showed he turned some of his line drives into grounders, while having a similar fly ball rate.

Ruiz’s calling card has always been his bat. He has some of the best hand-eye coordination and strike zone judgement in the system. He rarely swings and misses or chases. However, that isn’t all good. Because of this, he makes weak contact at times and isn’t as selective as he could be. He was late making his spring debut because he was working on a swing change. A cursory glance at some video doesn’t reveal much of a change from last season, other than his hands are little lower in his initial setup, but that’s about it. I suspect it’s focused on elevating the ball a bit more. Dave Roberts talked about attacking the strike zone in the right way. Ruiz still has an extreme open stance from the left side and he has a lot of moving parts before getting into swing position. He employs a big leg kick as he closes his stance and wiggles the bat before swinging. His power is mostly to the pull side and from the left side. At his best, Ruiz sprays line drives from gap to gap. He has struggled a bit from the right side in the past, but he wasn’t actually significantly worse as a righty in 2019. Still, his power is mostly from the left side (two career home runs as a right-handed batter in the minors).

His defense has definitely improved since signing as an amateur, but his arm has always been the biggest concern. He doesn’t have great arm strength and even had issues throwing to second base last season. For a guy without defensive versatility and questionable power, that isn’t good. But, he’s a good receiver and framer and is getting better with his game-calling. He lumbers on the base paths and won’t be much of a threat.

The future is still bright for Ruiz since he’s only 21 years old. If he were a few years older, he wouldn’t rank nearly this high on any prospect list. If he can figure out his swing and get back to hitting more line drives, he could be a first-division catcher. If not, he should be a nice platoon catcher. He’s on the 40-man roster, so he could debut at some point in 2020, but he’ll begin the season with OKC.

Spray Charts

Video

Video courtesy of Dodger Blue.

Video courtesy of MiLB.com.

ToolPresentFuture
Hit4560
Power3045
Speed3025
Defense4555
Arm4550
FV/Risk55High

2019 Ranking: 2
2020 Location: Triple-A Oklahoma City/Los Angeles
ETA: 2020

Next Up: Prospect No. 5

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.