Dodgers Prospect Watch: Keibert Ruiz Eyeing Breakout Season


Hampered by a broken finger at the end of last season, Keibert Ruiz was unable to join a handful of other prospects the Dodgers brought up to the big league roster. However, the switch-hitting native of Venezuela’s 2020 campaign could be the year he finally makes his long-awaited MLB debut.

In case you haven’t noticed, the Los Angeles farm is loaded with backstops. Aside from Ruiz and current big leaguer Will Smith, other catchers who have already made noise include Connor Wong, Diego Cartaya and Hunter Feduccia, among several others. With Smith and Ruiz atop the organization’s totem pole, some pundits believe the Dodgers might consider dealing one of the aforementioned names to strengthen their team at the 2020 summer trade deadline.

Regardless, if the 21-year-old Ruiz proves he’s ready to consistently produce at the big league level, it could signal the end of days for Austin Barnes, who currently finds himself out of contract options.

For those not familiar with Ruiz—which may be a select few considering how long he has dominated the organization’s prospect rankings—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.

In 2017, he combined to hit .316 with 58 runs scored, 23 doubles, two triples, eight home runs and 51 RBI in 101 games for High-A Great Lakes and Single-A Rancho Cucamonga. He began 2017 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.

Even more impressive is that Ruiz was named the organization’s 2017 Minor League Player of the Year, preceding Gavin Lux, who captured the award for both the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

In 2018, Ruiz slashed .268/.328/.401 with 12 long balls and 47 RBI in 101 games for Double-A Tulsa in the pitcher-friendly confines of the Texas League. Before his injury last season, he hit .261/.331/..347 in 85 games between Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Over his career, Ruiz has fared slightly better as a left-handed hitter against righty pitching, which could theoretically improve his ultimate standing with the parent club. In 2019, though, he was almost even across the board, hitting .261 against right-handed pitching while batting .260 against southpaws.

According to FanGraphs, Ruiz’s catching mechanics are near perfect, and some scouts are certain he has the ability to competently handle duties behind the dish at the major league level right now. However, his arm ranks about average when compared to the MLB standard, but that could certainly change as he matures. Lifetime in the minors at Single-A and higher, he has thrown out 43 of 195 potential base-stealers. 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 any overwhelming 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 he approaches his mid-twenties.

MLB Pipeline currently ranks Ruiz as the third best prospect in the entire organization and the seventh best catching prospect in all of baseball.

Since Ruiz is already a member of the club’s 40-man roster, there should be few administrative complications surrounding a big league promotion when the organization feels he’s ready.


61 thoughts on “Dodgers Prospect Watch: Keibert Ruiz Eyeing Breakout Season

  1. I wonder if we will ever see Ruiz wear a Dodger uniform, with 2nd year Smith in front of him, and Cartaya behind him, it just may be too tempting for AF to use him for a big mid season acquisition.
    Personally I don’t have a clue if the team should keep him or use him in a trade, sometimes a player doesn’t have any control of the circumstances they find themselves in. Either way he sounds like someone who can have a successful Mlb career.

    1. Smith OPS’d .800 in the minors. Good, but not great. I think he will be closer to that than the .900 he OPS’d last year. But your point is a good one. Ruiz will be ready soon. Then what? I’ve said it before, I want them both. Plenty of at bats from that position.

  2. Smith has played some third base in the minors. If he continues his power production from last year, he could ultimately wind up playing some third base here when Ruiz catches, so there would be plenty of at bats for both beginning in 2021 when Turner, if he comes back, will be another year older and if we don’t wind up with Bryant or Arenado. There’s a decent chance of the DH coming in 2022 so that would open up another spot for Ruiz when he doesn’t catch. There will be lots of interest in how Ruiz plays between April and July, both for potential trades and his future here in L.A.

      1. Very true. I look forward to opening day 2022 when we start Cartaya at catcher, Wong at first, Barnes at second, Smith at third, Ruiz at DH and Clayton Daniel at short (he says he can catch if necessary, so he qualifies here).

    1. That’s a shame. I wonder if we’ll ever find out what happened there. He’s still young, so hopefully, even if it takes another year or two, he’ll surface with another club and have some sort of MLB career.

  3. Me too, I hope he gets through whatever is going on, and gets a chance to play a few years in the majors, even if it’s with some one else.

  4. The trade we were talking about is being talked about again. Betts and Price.

    The Red Sox additionally want “two high-end prospects.”

    “Betts and Boston agreed to a record-breaking one-year, $27 million contract to avoid arbitration earlier this month. Should a team add Betts and Price in a trade, $59 million in salary would be added. Price is owed $32 million each of the next three seasons,“ per Spotrac.

    Two high end prospects for a $27 million rental and a $90 million anchor contract. Swallow it Boston.

      1. Yeah, I think it’s too much. If we knew Betts would extend, it would be worth discussing. But 2 high end prospects AND $123 million in salary relief? Only an idiot would do that. Our roster is full. As is we can cruise to the deadline in first place and go from there. Cora gets a nice vacation then he will be back to work somewhere else. Bench coach maybe?

    1. Where did you read that Scoop? I have not seen anything about that in weeks. And, before that could ever happen, the Sox would have to take some salary back in return. No way AF goes that far over the tax even for one year. As for Toles, the reason was always personal matters. It has not changed, and he is on the restricted list. Which means he would have to be reinstated or outright released by the Dodgers before he could play anywhere. He has not played in more than a year and a half. I think Toles run in baseball is over. He is not that young. Toles went to camp for a month last year and then left the team to be with family again. In May he turns 28.

      1. There are very few teams who could pick up both salaries this season and the rest of Price’s contract so you could probably say we’re there by implication. That said, I agree that there is no way that AF pays all of both salaries and throws in good prospects as well. Unless, of course, he goes for the $20 bribe the Shlemmings have offered him to make a big deal.

  5. I honestly believe that Ruiz needs to spend some time at OKC before any evaluation is made. He has the tools that is true. But many have had the tools and never make it.

    1. He absolutely needs some time at OKC, maybe even a full season, but the first few months will mean a lot in how he’s perceived in possible deadline trades and or a late season call up.

      1. Very true. I do think that spring will go a long way in telling who is backing up Smith. If Ruiz outplays Barnes, the possibility does exist that he breaks camp as the back up.

      2. Not impossible but I think in order for that to happen Ruiz would have to have a spectacular ST and Barnes would have to be awful. Remember, Keibert only had about 40 at bats at OKC last year so I think they’re going to want to give him as much playing time as possible. That won’t happen in L.A. especially since they’ll also want to give Smith a lot of playing time so they can see exactly what they have in him.

      3. He does need more time at AAA. Looking at his splits, before his finger injury, in his last 100 at bats he hit .300. Most of those were at AA of course. Something else really stands out on that page – he hits a lot of singles. In July and August he had 28 hits, of those 28, 25 were singles. He doesn’t walk much, 30 in 350 PAs, so his OBP and OPS could be better. His bat to ball skills are probably superior to Smith but with Friedman it’s about OPS. He will need to improve. He’s 21. He’s also 200 pounds so the power will come. He needs to work on his launching skills with the Van Skyhack team.

  6. His thrown out percentage last season was not as good as it once was. So even though he probably has better catching mechanics than Smith, he is still a little behind.

  7. 49ers- Chiefs. Not the NFL’s first choice for a stupor bowl. All it means to me is that spring training is 2 weeks away.

    1. I would think the NFL isn’t all that upset about this pairing. The 49ers have got to be one of America’s three favorite teams (along with the Pats and the Cowboys) and Mahomes is really exciting.
      Considering the possible combinations with 32 teams I would guess Goodell and friends aren’t crying.

      1. Correction: After giving it some more thought, the Packers and Steelers might both claim to be in the top three also and I might be showing some West Coast bias. In any case, I think the ratings will be very good.

      2. I don’t know that the 49ers would be a favorite team in America. It’s San Francisco, one of THE most liberal cities on the planet. KC? Nobody is skeered of that town. The matchup is a good one. Mahomes is in my opinion the most interesting player that will be on the field. Garoppolo has movie star looks but he ain’t all that magical as a quarterback. The 9ers are one of the most complete teams I’ve ever seen. I don’t much care but I did see the early line favors KC. I think that’s because of Mahomes. I also can see that line changing as the money comes in.

      3. Well I won’t be watching. I have not watched a single game since Kaepernick took a knee. And he was a 49er when he did that. I think most are glad the Pats lost, surprised the Ravens were ousted so easily, and wish Drew Brees was in it. I was never a huge NFL fan anyway. Rams left LA, and I became more of a college football fan. I still prefer it to the pro game. Was a Laker fan until all the Shaq-Kobe infighting started. Since then, I do not watch NBA games at all, and never a big hockey fan either. Actually never been to a NHL: games even when I lived in Phoenix and the Coyotes had 10 dollar seats. All the Stupid bowl means to me is that it is almost time for Dodger baseball.

      4. Super Bowl week also means you can get a good price on avocados at the market. I’ve only been to one hockey game in my life and I can’t believe it didn’t convert me into a hockey fan. The difference between live and tv hockey is like night and day but I still don’t follow hockey. I prefer the NFL game to college football but that’s probably because I’m a Cal alum and I’ve had to suffer through years and years of mediocre football (despite sending numerous excellent qbacks to the NFL). The Shaq-Kobe dynamic didn’t chase me away from the Lakers but Kobe’s last couple of years did. They have become watchable again this year so I’m spending some time in front of the tube again.

      5. Being here in Colorado, I can see some of their games on TV when ESPN shows them. But like Vinny retiring, it just was not the same Lakers without Chick Hearn. This game is in the refrigerator! The jello’s jellin, and the butters cooling.

  8. How can you not like a guy named Keibert? We need to trade for a guy named Ernie, then we could have Keibert and Ernie. Yeah not to much going on with the Dodgers thus not to much to see, read or talk about. At least spring is on the way. Some say Will Smith is a lock but we have plenty of promising catchers in the system, could Smith actually be the one that gets moved to make a deadline deal for a top pitcher? Don’t put anything out of your mind with Andy F.

    1. I agree with your point here IJDM. Smith came out of the gate fast but faded in the stretch. Which player is he?…. the guy who OPSd .800 in the minors, the guy who OPSd 1.600 in July with the Dodgers or the guy who OPSd .582 the last month of the season, including 1 for 13 in the playoffs? I honestly don’t know how good he really is but I’m reasonably sure July was an outlier month.

    2. Keibert and Ernie. Good one IJDM. When you first showed up here I thought you might be Oscar the Grouch but you’re starting to mellow. We don’t want anyone named Oscar around here who might live in a garbage can. Too close to a trash can lid controversy.

    1. In my heart I know you’re right Rich, but I’ll never admit that publicly until ST starts. Whatever you do, don’t tell Bear I said that.

    1. Thanks for the link Jesus. They sure seem to like Downs. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone else have him as high as #3.

      1. Your a Cal guy, I knew there was something seriously wrong with your upbringing. Explains why you are a Schlemming. But a Dodger fan from up by the bay? You must have taken a lot of crap growing up.

      2. I’m a SoCal guy but went to school up there. When I attended, it seemed like half the campus was from L.A. so no major negative feedback on being a Dodger fan.

      3. Lucky. I went to school in Manhattan Beach. But I quit my senior year because I was being bounced around foster homes, and I joined the Army. Probably would have been drafted that summer anyway. By enlisting I got to pick my military job. I wanted to be a tanker, but they sent me to Radar Tech school. That actually prevented me from being sent to Nam. But I popped one of those No-Cal hippies in his jaw when I came home from Korea in 68 because he spit on my uniform. Still think they should split and become their own state.

      4. They wanted to split so they could charge for all the water SoCal was stealing. There were other reasons too of course.

        Hey Jefe, remember a guy named Jim Sheridan? I played baseball with him.

        I went to college in NorCal too, but not at Cal and not until I was older. Like Bear I went into the military at 18 but unlike Bear I didn’t skate the war. I didn’t get spit on but some beauty in a VW bus in Oceanside threw a pop bottle at me, flipped me off and called me a baby killer. All I remember thinking at the time was she was really cute and I was pretty sure she wouldn’t have sex with me. As for what she said, without going into detail I couldn’t argue the point.

      5. Yeah. Punt returner. He was a quiet kid on my Colt League team. Good, but not that great in baseball. His dad was our coach. He put him private Catholic school to excel in football. Servite I believe. I never saw him after that.

    2. Great read with a few surprises Jesus. Thanks. I look forward to comments on what is found there. My initial thoughts are we have a lot of 45 ceiling players and Gonsolin isn’t rated as high as I think he should be. I will continue reading and offer more thoughts later. Thanks again.

  9. I don’t think Smith gets traded anywhere, and I think he will be a lot more productive than most expect. A rookie fading the last month is nothing new. It happened to Joc, Cody and Corey and numerous others I could mention. Lux was not all that during his time up with the big club either, but most are just handing him the starting job at 2nd. Smith will learn how to prepare as he matures more into the job. A lot more power than Ruiz. I think who gets traded has a lot to do with who they get traded for. Ruiz, Smith or any other top 10 prospect are not getting traded for Joe Schmo.

      1. I think he spells his name without the “c”. It’s Shmo, same as Shlemming, not Schlemming. I think Bear bought a bag of c’s at the swap meet and doesn’t know what to do with them.

    1. I’ll give you Schmo, although maybe it should be Schmoe, but I’m not bending on Shlemming because it’s a combination of two words (sheep/lemming) and neither of them has a “c”.
      Boy is it time for a trade or signing. We’re really stretching for subjects today.

      1. “Germans use a c after an s and before a h.”

        So, are you saying Germans are full of schit?

      2. Unless you are German..or Jewish….I am going to see 1917 this afternoon. Ah the good old days! Trench warfare and mustard gas. Smells like victory! Little side note, both Christy Mathewson and Grover Cleveland Alexander were exposed to gas during the war. Mathewson while in training and Alexander on the battlefield. Matty died in 1925 because the gas weakened his lungs, Alexander contracted epilepsy from it and had a partial loss of hearing. He also suffered from shell shock. He pitched until the late 20’s and won 20 games in 1927. He was the 1926 WS hero for the Cardinals when they beat the Yankees. He died in 1950 at the age of 63. Pretty good movie about him starring Ronald Reagan made in the 50’s called “The Winning Team” Alexander had the distinction of being named after one American president, and being played by another in a movie.

      3. I agree they need to do something to excite the fans. I have got it! Fire Dave Roberts for aiding and abetting the enemy!

  10. If it had been my choice Scoop, I would have been right there in the shit with you. I did not want to skate the war. I wanted to be there with my brothers. Yeah, I got lucky. But every time a friend of mine came home in a box, I paid a price emotionally that it took me a long time to get over. It was simply a politicians war and we should never have been there.

    1. Trust me Bear, you did not want to be there. You got lucky.

      I saw an old high school friend yesterday and we were talking about this. In ‘68 he went to the induction center in LA, his number was up… literally it was called. He went home and waited … and the official letter never came. They somehow lost his paperwork. He waited over a year then contacted them and they said it was not his fault, to forget it, and he went back in the pool again. His number was never called. Divine intervention on that one.

      1. I get that Scoop, I really do. I know how lucky I was, and I had many friends who were not as lucky. But I wanted to be there. Just was not in the stars.

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