In this edition of our weekly minor league highlight feature, we take a look at the hot-hitting Edwin Rios and Alex Verdugo of Triple-A Oklahoma City, stop by Double-A Tulsa for a glance at Henry Ramos and Jose Miguel Fernandez, and check the progress of Keibert Ruiz who was just promoted to High-A Rancho Cucamonga not long ago.
Since his promotion to the Triple-A level on July 7, Rios, normally a corner infielder, is continuing to show his value to the Dodgers organization. The 23-year-old native of Puerto Rico was the hero in Friday night’s contest against Iowa, having hit a tie-breaking home run in the top of the ninth inning which proved to be the game-winner. So far in his short time at OKC, he’s hit three long balls and two doubles with five RBI, but perhaps most significantly, has appeared in five games in left field. Across two levels this season, Rios is slashing .307/.354/.529 with 18 home runs and 67 RBI through 89 games.
Verdugo continues to reach base at an absolutely insane rate of success. Against Iowa on Saturday evening, the 21-year-old outfield prospect drew a walk in the third inning, extending his consecutive streak of reaching base to 39 games, which is tied for first in all of Triple-A. For the year, he’s hitting .334/.406/.446 with three home runs, four triples, 20 doubles and 47 RBI, primarily batting out of the leadoff spot. Based on his recent production, many fans of the big league club are eager to see Verdugo appointed to the team’s 40-man roster, if only to watch him compete in the majors when rosters expand in early September.
Though he’s probably not considered a prospect by some standards, Wilmer Font is also making a case for a potential promotion to the bigs. Font was the starter in OKC’s victory on Friday, having thrown seven strong innings against the Cubs. He scattered seven hits, but struck out a whopping 11 batters, increasing his number of punchouts to 138 on the season. For the year, he’s posted a 7-5 record with a 3.38 ERA over 101-1/3 innings of work.
Fernandez is continuing to produce at the Double-A level, and outside of a strong couple of days at OKC during the All-Star break, is striving to show the organization that he belongs at the highest levels for good. Not normally known for his power, Fernandez smashed his 14th long ball of the season against NW Arkansas, and is now hitting .307/.365/.483 through 87 games this year. To further prove his versatility, the 29-year-old Cuban native has already appeared at third base, second base, first base and even left field for the Drillers during his inaugural campaign in the States.
After suffering a severe groin injury in spring training, Ramos has been scorching at the dish since being activated from the disabled list on June 20. In his first 19 games back, the 25-year-old outfielder is hitting .415/.481/.662 with four homers, two doubles, a triple and 12 RBI. Originally selected by the Red Sox in the fifth round of the 2010 draft, the switch-hitting Ramos was signed by the Dodgers as a minor league free agent last November.
Through his first eight games at Rancho, Ruiz is slashing .375/.412/.719 with two home runs, three doubles, a triple and nine RBI. Across two levels of the farm in 2017, he’s hitting .324/.377/459 with four homers, 19 doubles and 33 RBI in 259 AB.
The Dodgers signed Ruiz as a free agent out of Venezuela for a mere $140,000 on his 16th birthday in July of 2014. According to FanGraphs, Ruiz’s catching mechanics are near perfect, and some scouts believe that he has the ability to competently handle duties behind the dish at the major league level right now. Dodgers’ management has been impressed with Ruiz to the point that they allowed him to dress for an official Cactus League contest against the Rangers last spring.
(FOLLOW DENNIS ON TWITTER: @)