If you’re a regular visitor to this site and have the feeling that we talk about catching prospect Keibert Ruiz quite frequently, you would indeed be correct. At 19 years of age, the native of Venezuela earned his first trip to the Dodgers‘ big league spring camp this year, and it’s probably safe to say that he’s one of the Top 5 backstops in the entire organization.
For those not familiar with Ruiz—which may be a select few considering all the eyes he’s opened over the past few years—the Dodgers signed him as a free agent for a mere $140,000 right on his 16th birthday in July of 2014. After getting his feet wet in the Dominican Summer League the following year, he was quickly ushered to Ogden in the Pioneer League in 2016, where he slashed an impressive .354/.393/.503 over 206 plate appearances at only 17 years of age.
Last year, he combined to hit .329 with 56 runs scored, 22 doubles, two triples, eight home runs and 49 RBI in 92 games for High-A Great Lakes and Single-A Rancho Cucamonga. He began his 2017 campaign by slashing .317/372/.423 in 63 games for the Loons and was promoted to the Quakes on July 9. With Rancho, Ruiz hit .315 with six homers, seven doubles, 27 RBI and 24 runs scored in 38 games. In 192 career minor-league games, the switch-hitting catcher has slashed .330 /.372/.461 with 11 homers, 53 doubles and 118 RBI.
Even more impressive is that Ruiz was named the organization’s 2017 Minor League Player of the Year last fall.
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. However, because of his age, his arm ranks about average when compared to the MLB standard, but that could certainly change as he matures. Still, his feet are amazingly quick, and all his throws consistently show outstanding accuracy.
With the bat, his strongest skill is his ability to make contact with the ball, which is made evident by his career 11.6% strikeout rate—an exceptional number for a prospect of his age. He hasn’t shown much power yet, but he does have a bit of pull power from the left side, and it may be an aspect of his game that blossoms as his body finishes its growth stage.
MLB Pipeline currently ranks Ruiz as the sixth best prospect in the entire organization, and the third best catching prospect in all of baseball.
During 2018 Cactus League play, he went 6-for-9 at the plate with two RBI before being reassigned to minor league camp on March 11.
Looking ahead, it’s probably safe to assume that Ruiz begins his 2018 campaign at Double-A Tulsa, with a promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City at some point in the year not out of the question.