Jays Looking into 1B Jose Julio Ruiz


Alex Anthopolous may just be the most restless GM in all of MLB right now as he attempts to build something special in Toronto. Although rumors about bringing Carlos Delgado on board were quickly squashed by Alex, he is apparently ready to look into another much younger player at 1B in Cuban Jose Julio Ruiz, as reported by Jorge Arangure.

So who is Jose Ruiz and what could he do for the Jays should he be signed? Well, if you understand spanish you can get some information from this video of the man while in Miami posted at cubanballplayers.blogspot, and the site adds some stats and a small but sloppy description of Ruiz as a gap-to-gap hitter who is under 25.  Another link on the same site goes deeper into the man, with the following stats added in as well:

2008: 429 AB, 126 hits, 83 runs, .341 avg, 21 doubles, 11 HRs, 69 RBI, 44 BB, 49 Ks, 32 stolen bases

2009: (abbreviated stats) .305/.408/.467 in 52 games, hit 15 doubles, 38 RBI, and 5 HRs. He hit .214 against lefties and .338 against righties. To show how well he hits to all fields, the writers list the fact that of his hits, 48 were to LF, 47 were to CF, and 83 were to RF.

His fielding percentage is listed at .990 over his career in Cuba and he is also listed as having played some LF. The authors of this information cover Cuban players constantly, so I would take their opinions fairly well, and they list Ruiz as their 3rd best prospect from Cuba, after Aroldis Chapman and RHP Reinier Roibal. However, I can’t vouch 100% for the information, as I do not know them personally. Still, why would they lie?

Perhaps some of you will want a better source of information. Well, Baseball Reference lists the following about Ruiz:

  • He is listed at 6’2″ 194 lbs, and hits from the left side of the plate
  • They list his birth date as March 24th 1984, which would make him 26 on opening day
  • They add that he never made their national team, but did make the “B” team once
  • 2005/2006 stats: .357/.428/.473 with only 2 HRs in 247 ABs
  • 2006/20007 stats: .323/.430/.455, while leading the Cuban league with 72 RBIs
  • 2007/2008 stats: .341/.423/.492 and they confirm the stats listed above
  • He defected to the Dominican Republic and made it to Miami from there

Here are a couple of videos of Jose Julio Ruiz hitting home runs:

Although both videos are low quality, you can tell that he has a quick stroke with lots of loft to his swing.  He also turned on both those pitches which were thrown inside, which shows his quickness.  You can also see how quiet he is before the pitch, with only a small waiving of the bat for timing. I’m not sure how well he would do against MLB pitching, but if his stats translate as well and he progresses anywhere as well as Kendry Morales, he’s definitely worth a shot. In fact, MLBfantasyProspect compares Morales and Ruiz and concludes that while Ruiz would be starting off a more polished hitter than Morales, he has about 60% of the power that Morales has. Essentially, the Jays would be getting a Lyle Overbay type 1B who plays excellent D and hits the gaps well. Perhaps the one upgrade between the two is that he also steals bases (or did so in Cuba), and also could end up hitting for better average overall.

What remains to be seen is what he would cost to sign. Would the Jays be willing to keep Brett Wallace at 3B in order to fit one of Brian Dopirak, Randy Ruiz, Adam Lind, or even Jose Ruiz at 1B? It’s possible. Wallace’s defense is not that bad at 3B, he’s just not the “perfect build” for the position. I’m not sure if the Jays interest in Ruiz is legitimate and whether they’d push very hard for this player, but he is attracting interest quickly and would therefore could be a member of the Jays very soon if a decision to attempt to sign him is made. Chances are he would begin the year in AAA Las Vegas and would allow the Jays to keep David Cooper in AA as a result.

Like the Delgado news, it’s hard to imagine Alex making a move for a 1B with so many on board, but he does seem to be adding as many assets as possible in order to accumulate ammunition for future deals, so it does fit into his overall strategy. I guess we’ll find out soon enough! More to follow as the story develops!

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