First baseman Darin Ruf continued his torrid pace for the Reading Phillies this week, including six hits and a homer in his last two games.
Ruf, 26, is hitting .310/.405./.565 with an Eastern League-leading 23 home runs and tied for the second-most RBIs with 72. His .310 batting average places him fifth. Reading's season concludes Sept. 3, should he remain at Double-A the rest of the year. A 20th-round pick out of Creighton, Ruf started piecing it together last season in Clearwater and was named an All-Star. Reading skipper Dusty Wathan, who managed Ruf in Clearwater in 2011, told the Reading Eagle at the season's midpoint that he should have been considered Florida State League Player of the Year.
The white-hot first baseman, who made his second All-Star team this season, is in the midst of perhaps his best outburst of the season, a seven-game stretch that includes 12 hits, five of those leaving the yard.
"He's got power to all fields," Wathan told Reading Phillies beat writer Mike Drago at the All-Star break. "He's not only a guy who can hit home runs, but he can hit for average. He doesn't strike out a lot. He's not getting a lot of good pitches to hit. That makes it really difficult to stay disciplined like he has and still get some hits out of it. The thing that's overlooked about him is his defense. He's saved us a ton of errors this year."
Ruf, who is old for his league, went unranked in last season's Phillies Baseball America top 30. Reading seems to have a guy like Ruf - an older, non-defender, triple crown candidate - literally every year: Matt Rizzotti, Tagg Bozied, Neil Sellers, Randy Ruiz, Gary Burnham, John Castellano. On and on ...
Strong debut for Martin: Right-hander Ethan Martin, who came to the Phils in the Shane Victorino deal with the Dodgers, is off to a strong start with Reading. In two starts, the 23-year-old prospect is 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA and eight strikeouts.