Phillies Notes: Reading slugger Darin Ruf has caught Charlie Manuel's eye

Darin Ruf has produced incredible power at Reading, which could put him in line for a call-up to the majors. (Yong Kim/Staff file photo)
Darin Ruf has produced incredible power at Reading, which could put him in line for a call-up to the majors. (Yong Kim/Staff file photo)
Posted: August 30, 2012

If you can hit the ball really far, it will not take long for Charlie Manuel to notice. If you can hit the ball really far and with great frequency, Manuel will do more than notice. If you can do all of this while the Phillies flounder, Manuel will start thinking big things.

Such is the case with Darin Ruf, the 26-year-old slugging first baseman at double-A Reading. Manuel has watched recent video of Ruf's assault on the Eastern League.

The Phillies manager is interested.

"He's had an extraordinary year," Manuel said Tuesday. "Ruf is someone who pops out at you. Ruf is trying to hit his way to the big leagues. That's what it used to be like. You had to do something to get to the big leagues. Evidently, Ruf is an old throwback."

Manuel said he wants to see Ruf, whether it is now or in spring training. He has yet to discuss the idea with his boss, Ruben Amaro Jr., but made it sound like he will stump for Ruf's candidacy. Rosters expand Saturday.

Ruf has swatted 37 home runs in 2012, with 19 in August alone. His home run Tuesday tied Ryan Howard for Reading's single-season home run record. His 37 home runs are more than any player in all of affiliated minor-league baseball.

Of course, the decision to promote Ruf is not Manuel's. Some scouts are skeptical about whether Ruf has a true position in the majors. He is blocked at first base by Howard. He has played 33 career games in left field, with 23 of them coming in 2012.

His work there is limited and not pristine.

The Phillies plan for Ruf to play the outfield in winter ball. He will likely be added to the 40-man roster during the offseason if not summoned in September. That would guarantee a spring audition.

"He's on the radar screen," Amaro said Monday. "It really depends on whether he can get playing time. It is something we'll continue to talk about."

The Phillies are already committed to playing time for two corner outfielders in Domonic Brown and Nate Schierholtz as they evaluated them for next season. The only true centerfielder on the roster is John Mayberry Jr. That could affect plans.

Manuel said playing Ruf in the outfield during a major-league game could be a risk. Then again, he's enamored with the power potential.

"If a guy can hit," Manuel said, "his defense gets a little bit better."

Healthy Polanco sits

Manuel finally confirmed that Placido Polanco (bulging disk in back) is healthy enough to play but has been supplanted at third base by Kevin Frandsen.

"Right now, Frandsen is doing what he's doing and he's kind of on a roll," Manuel said. "It's hard to take him out of the lineup."

Polanco has started just two of eight games since his activation from the disabled list.

Minor-league awards

Triple-A righthander Tyler Cloyd was named the International League's most valuable pitcher, becoming the first Phillies minor-leaguer to win such honors since Brandon Duckworth in 2001. Cloyd, 25, is 12-1 with a 2.35 ERA at triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Single-A lefty Austin Wright was awarded best pitcher accolades for the Florida State League. Wright, 22, compiled a 3.42 ERA with 132 strikeouts in 142 innings at Clearwater. Wright ranked third in the league in strikeouts, trailing two teammates - Jesse Biddle and Adam Morgan.

Brown limps off

Brown returned to the lineup after a two-game absence only to leave in the 10th inning upon re-injuring his sore left knee.

"I don't feel that bad actually," Brown said. "I was hobbling a little bit. They saw me run and thought I was hurt."

He said he hopes to play Wednesday.


Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @magelb.

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