Dodgers Protect the Team’s Catching Future from Rule 5 Draft
In a move that everyone saw coming, the Dodgers have added 20-year old catching prospect, Keibert Ruiz to the 40-man roster. Ruiz, who spent 2018 entirely with the Double-A Tula Driller, is the Dodgers second overall prospect and ranks 39 overall, both according to MLB.com. Ruiz’s placement on the 40-man roster is according to his agent via a Tweet.
Signed out of Venezuela as a 16-year old back in 2015, Ruiz was highly touted from the get-go. Clocking in at 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, the young catcher moves well behind the plate, combining his contact-oriented bat with highly regarded defensive skills.
While Ruiz will more than likely remain off the roster until September of 2019 or later, his numbers are well worth the look now that he is on the 40-man roster.
In four professional seasons, Ruiz has slashed a combined .309/.357/.441. Since arriving in the United States, his bat has been known more for his ability to make contact and avoid striking out than it has for power. In those four seasons, Ruiz has hit a total 23 home runs, 12 of them coming in 2018.
But, the overall numbers for Ruiz do not tell the tale of 2018, the factor that could ultimately cause the Dodgers to slow down his development a little bit. Unlike his previous three years, Ruiz’s batting average dipped from three straight years of above .300 hitting to a mere .268. Since batting average is not always the best judge of scenario, Ruiz’s BABIP dropped from .333 in 2017 to .266 in 2018.
Could Ruiz’s out of this world numbers be declining as he matures through the system? It is entirely possible. But, at just 20-years old and the baseline skills to be fantastic, there is little cause for concern after some regression in 2018.
Ruiz’s only noticeable weakness in his craft is his arm. In 2018, the young catcher allowed 70 stolen bases against just 25 caught stealings, just a 26 percent caught stealing rate.
Keibert Ruiz is the future of one of the team’s most crucial positions. The Dodgers have made it clear that he and Will Smith, the Dodgers’ other highly touted catching prospect, will head up the backstop operation as soon as the two of them are ready for the job. With the Dodgers choosing to protect Ruiz from the Rule-5 draft, a move that was an absolute no-brainer, everyone is one step closer to the future.