Ruf's power explosion making waves in Phillies organization

Reading's Darin Ruf entered the weekend batting .312 with 29 homers and 83 RBIs. His path to the majors could come in left field.
Reading's Darin Ruf entered the weekend batting .312 with 29 homers and 83 RBIs. His path to the majors could come in left field. (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 20, 2012

READING - Darin Ruf has employed a simple philosophy since being a 20th-round draft choice of the Phillies in 2009 after a four-year college career at Creighton.

"It's been my mentality since I turned pro to go out and have a good year every year," Ruf said. "They don't have as much invested in a player like me."

And he has certainly achieved the goal about having good years, especially this season.

Primarily a first baseman who also has taken up left field recently at Reading, Ruf is on an eye-popping power surge, and now the question is whether he's worth a late-season look by the Phillies.

Last year Ruf hit a career-high 17 home runs for Clearwater, but that's kid stuff compared to this year.

Ruf entered the weekend with 29 home runs, 83 RBIs, and a whopping .993 OPS, while maintaining his high average. He took a .300 career batting average into the season and was batting .312 heading into the weekend.

The 26-year-old Ruf had hit at least one home run in five consecutive games until having that streak snapped on Thursday.

Only three players in Reading Phillies history have hit at least 30 home runs in a season. That list is led by Ryan Howard, who clouted 37 in 2004. The others were Greg Luzinski (33 in 1970) and Willie Darkis (31 in 1983). Reading has been a Phillies affiliate since 1967.

With Howard secure at first base, Ruf now may have another path to the big leagues by playing left field. He was in left for 10 of the previous 21 games heading into the weekend.

"It's easy to figure out why we're having him play left field," said Joe Jordan, the Phillies director of player development. "It hasn't affected him [offensively], but he needs some time out there, and he has done great."

After the season Ruf will play winter ball in Venezuela and work even more on playing in the outfield.

As for his power increase, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Ruf, who throws and hits righthanded, credits his experience more than anything.

"I've gotten stronger, but the experience is a big thing," Ruf said. "The more at-bats you get, the more you learn and have an idea of what pitchers are trying to do to get you out."

At the very least, Ruf has made the Phillies organization take notice. There is a possibility that he could be called up to the majors sometime during the final month of the season.

"It's being discussed, as with some other players with the system, but he's done everything he can do to put himself in that discussion," Jordan said. "We're having those types of conversations with several of our minor-league guys."

Reading manager Dusty Wathan said what he likes most is that Ruf is strong and can hit the ball the other way.

"And his splits between righthanders and lefthanders aren't really crazily dramatic," Wathan said.

Entering the weekend Ruf was batting .375 with 15 home runs and 39 RBIs against lefthanders and .282 with 14 home runs and 44 RBIs against righthanders. He did have 151 more at-bats against righthanders.

"He has a really short swing that doesn't have a lot of maintenance in it," Wathan said. "His strike zone discipline has been outstanding, and there is a lot to like [about his bat]."

Ruf has enjoyed this season but hopes he hasn't hit the ceiling, at least as far as his power potential is concerned.

"I don't know what my power peak is," he said. "Hopefully it is more."

The Phillies have a similar hope.


Contact Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or mnarducci@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @sjnard.

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