RUF’IN UP THE EASTERN LEAGUE

Darin Ruf is over the hill, at least when it comes to the minor leagues. But he’s still hitting a lot of dingers.

The 26-year old is about to complete his fourth year in the Phillies system, with the entirety of 2012 spent out in Reading. Despite his power surge in the Eastern League, the brass doesn’t look too kindly upon him. Rather than jumping into the draft at a younger age, like most guys do, he waited until he finished his degree at Creighton (heh) University.

The proverbial deck is further stacked against Ruf since the first baseman is blocked not only at the top of the line, as Ryan Howard is signed from now until eternity, but also in Lehigh Valley with Cody Overbeck (although he hasn’t lived up to expectations). Furthermore, he’s only recently started mastering the outfield, something he will continue to work on this winter in Venezuela.

Either way, Ruf’s numbers are pretty awesome this year.

.316 BA / .407 OBP / .617 SLG / 35 HR / 62 BB / 94 SO / .294 ISO

Watch a HR to get proper context

And another (thanks, WFMZ!)

While his teammates have taken to calling him Babe Ruf and even the most casual minor league baseball fans have taken note of his exploits, I’m having a little trouble getting excited.

Up until this year, that Big Brown/Schmitter level of power has not been there – he’s more than doubled his career HR total this year. While his BA and OBP have always been good, the skeptic in me reads this as a “big kid playing with the little kids” situation.

It’s really hard to say if he’s finally found his stroke or if he’s having a one-year power surge. I’ve only seen the guy play twice – once with Clearwater last year, and earlier this summer in Reading – so the bulk of my opinion rests on analyzing numbers and video. A fun job for any nerd.

Even if baseball killer Darin “Babe” Ruf is here to stay, what in the heck do the Phillies do with him? They could promote him to the majors, but it doesn’t do much good for a guy’s development to have his ass on the bench 90% of the time (see Domonic Brown in 2010). If anything, and this was echoed by a Phils minor league guy last week on WIP, the team should leave him in Reading for the rest of the season as he makes the transition into a new position.

While his age may be an issue, the real issue is that he’s blocked at first and it will take some time for a big guy like him to nail down the outfield. Beyond that, the team could even have another Travis Chapman or Matt Rizzotti on their hands. And that wouldn’t be good.

Here’s some more video.

Eric Scarcella likes it Ruf (I’ll stop it with the puns now) on 08/23

Phils MiLB blogging all-stars PhoulBallz interview Darin

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