The Los Angeles Dodgers farm system has consistently churned out All-Star-caliber talent in recent years, and next on the list could be catching prospect Keibert Ruiz.
Ruiz has been highly-regarded since the Dodgers signed him out of Venezuela in 2014, and he could reach the Major Leagues as soon as this season.
The 21-year-old was added to the 40-man roster this past offseason and therefore is in big league camp this spring. He had yet to make an appearance through the first handful of Cactus League games, which changed Thursday.
Ruiz’s slow roll into spring action was not a result of health or disciplinary issues. “He’s been working on a little bit of a swing change. Not necessarily an overhaul, but just trying to clean some things up,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts explained to DodgerBlue.com.
“I just wanted him to really focus on the practice and mechanics of it before getting him into a game, where most players revert back to what they’re used to. Tried to get him some type of traction with the change he’s working on.”
Ruiz had a subpar offensive season in 2019, batting .261/.331/.347 with six home runs and 34 RBI in 85 games between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City. His season came to an early end because of a broken finger suffered in August.
While he is known more for his glove, the organization remains optimistic that the bat will catch up at some point. A few tweaks to his swing are necessary for that to happen though, and Roberts further elaborated on what they are working on this spring.
“It’s more of just trying to get his path to the ball a little bit not just underneath,” he said. “He kind of collapses, so there are some things we’ve been doing with his body and understanding how to attack the hitting zone the right way. He understands what we’re trying to do and he’ll get plenty of at-bats.”
The Dodgers have another talented, young catcher in the organization in Will Smith, who is the team’s starter behind the plate going into 2020. Because of that, they have no reason to rush Ruiz in his development, which should take pressure off him to perform this season at the Triple-A level.
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