Darin Ruf during batting practice prior to a Phillies game on September 27, 2012
|Samsung Lions – No. 50|
|First baseman / Outfielder|
July 28, 1986 |
|September 14, 2012, for the Philadelphia Phillies|
(through 2016 season)
|Runs batted in||96|
Darin Cortland Ruf (born July 28, 1986) is an American professional baseball first baseman and outfielder for the Samsung Lions of the KBO League. He was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and played at Westside High School. Subsequently, he attended Creighton University, and excelled playing baseball there before the Philadelphia Phillies drafted him in 2009. In the minor leagues, he initially hit for a high batting average, but in 2011 combined that with power numbers to become one of the Phillies' top prospects. He made his major league debut in September 2012, after having hit 38 home runs to lead the Eastern League. In 2013, he split time between Triple-A and the major league Phillies, and was among the league's top rookies during the season. He was embroiled in a roster battle for a bench spot entering 2014, but hurt his oblique, and landed on the disabled list prior to the season.
Early life and career
Ruf was born on July 28, 1986 to parents Bill and Mary Ruf in Omaha, Nebraska; he has four siblings (one of whom is older, the rest younger). He attended Westside High School, where he helped the team win a Nebraska state championship his sophomore season and finish as the runner-up his senior year. He also played football and basketball, and was the captain of the baseball and football teams – during his senior season, he achieved all-state honors in both football and basketball. After his senior season, he committed to play baseball at Creighton for its "combination of athletics and academics"; there, he was a "standout" over his four seasons, serving as the squad's first baseman.
Even in Ruf's freshman season (2006), he started all 52 games. His sophomore season (2007) drew him significant accolade – he was named the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Player of the Year, a member of both the first-team all conference squad, and a first-team all-conference scholar athlete. He also was named an all-star for his performance in summer collegiate baseball, for which he was a member of the Wisconsin Woodchucks of the Northwoods League. His strong performance continued during his junior season (2008), during which he compiled a 15-game hitting streak that contributed to his .347 season batting average. His collegiate career culminated in 2009, when he was named to the second-team all-MVC team and a third-team academic-all American by ESPN. Overall, he is "all over the Bluejay record books, finishing second in RBI with 201, third in total bases with 423 and in hits with 275, sixth in walks with 135, seventh in doubles with 57 and tied for 10th in home runs with 27 ... (he) started all 227 games in his career." While at Creighton, he earned a degree in finance, compiled a 3.51 grade point average (GPA), and aspired to be a successful businessman.
Minor leagues (2009–11)
Ruf was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 20th round of the 2009 Major League Baseball draft. After the Phillies drafted him, scouting director Marti Wolever asserted that Ruf "is an outstanding defensive first baseman with a chance to hit and has tremendous makeup." After converting to play predominantly in the outfield, however, Ruf's fielding has been characterized as either "serviceable" or "weak", and Phillies general manager Rubén Amaro, Jr. commented that he did not have the defensive skills to play every day.
His first professional assignment was the GCL Phillies in 2009; after performing well there, he was promoted to the Williamsport Crosscutters of short season A. With both squads, he held a batting average of over .300. He also participated in the Florida Instructional League. In 2010, he began the season with the Lakewood BlueClaws, also of Class A, but spent only 32 games there. The Phillies promoted him to the Class A-Advanced Clearwater Threshers, and was the Phillies' minor league player of the week in late May. In total, he amassed nine home runs and 67 runs batted in (RBIs) while posting a .290 amalgamated batting average. His power emergence began in 2011 when he hit a Florida State League-leading 43 doubles, as well as 17 home runs and 82 RBIs and a .308 batting average. Defensively, he played first base, third base, and left field, and even pitched two innings of relief during a 23-inning game. After the season, he played in the Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions.
Philadelphia Phillies (2012–2016)
Ruf enjoyed great success playing for the Reading Phillies (since renamed the Reading Fightin Phils) in 2012, earning Eastern League most valuable player (MVP) honors, as well as the Paul Owens Award, which is given to the best player in the Phillies' minor league system. During the season, the Fightin Phils sold T-shirts that said "Babe Ruf", a reference to Babe Ruth. He led the Eastern League with 38 home runs and 104 RBIs, and tied for the league lead by playing in 139 games and 11 sacrifice flies, all en route to earning a September callup and making his major league debut on September 14 (skipping the Triple-A level entirely). He recorded his first major league hit on September 25, a home run off the Washington Nationals' Ross Detwiler. Ruf totaled three home runs and 10 RBIs in his 12-game "cup of coffee" at the end of the season. An article on Phillies Nation summarized his season and journey through the minor league system:
Darin Ruf slugged his way onto the scene about midway through the 2012 season with the Reading Phillies; it wasn’t as though Ruf was some highly-touted prospect everyone knew about. Really, he was an afterthought at 26 years old; a guy who was just kind of there. That all changed.— Excerpt from Phillies Player Review: Darin Ruf by Pat Gallen, November 4, 2012
Ruf started the 2013 season in Triple-A with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, but was recalled by the Phillies on July 6 when Ryan Howard was placed on the disabled list. At the major league level, he finished fifth among rookies with 14 home runs, nine of which were in August, the most among any major league player during that stretch. Of his 70 starts at the major league level, 28 were at first base, 27 in right field, and 16 in left field, while of his 78 starts in Triple-A, 59 came in left field and 19 came at first base. Ruf struggled to find a spot on the Phillies roster at which he could contribute, despite strong performance: "Even after proving he can be a productive offensive contributor and showing his defensive versatility, Ruf's spot in the Phils’ lineup may not be locked in for next season." one columnist wrote.
Entering the 2014 season, he was set to compete for a spot on the bench, as Amaro declared that he was not good enough, particularly defensively, to play everyday. However, the Phillies placed him on the disabled list (DL) due to a strained oblique; his estimated recovery time was around the end of April or the beginning of May. When Ruf returned, he played for the IronPigs, but suffered another injury on June 3, fracturing his left wrist when sliding into the wall while playing left field. He returned to the major league Phillies on July 22 when John Mayberry, Jr. landed on the disabled list, but struggled in his first several games; in his first 17 at-bats, he had just two hits. Nevertheless, the Phillies toyed with platooning him with Ryan Howard, who was also struggling, at first base, and Ruf also played two innings at third base. Overall, Ruf amassed only 117 major league plate appearances, and was significantly hindered by injuries.
As 2015 began, Ruf once again had to fight for playing time; there was no clear opening for him on the Phillies' roster, notwithstanding the fact that he was one of the few players on the roster with the ability to hit for power.
On May 13, 2016, Ruf was optioned to Triple-A to make room on the roster for Tommy Joseph. On November 11, 2016, Ruf was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers (along with Darnell Sweeney) in exchange for Howie Kendrick.
Eric Longehagen, a baseball analyst for Crashburn Alley, asserts that Ruf's ceiling is a platoon player at first base, but that his superior intangibles have allowed him to overachieve in terms of his potential. He wrote,
For him to be anything more than that would be positively historic. We’ve never seen a player of this age with a similar skill set (a fringe average hitter with a huge hole in his swing and plus raw power who is a 20 runner with pretty much unknown arm strength) do anything sustainable of note at the major league level. Ruf turns 28 halfway through next year and possesses both a skillset and body that typically don’t age well. It's a very weird situation but it's a triumph of the Phillies player development system and of Ruf's effort that he ever put on a Major League uniform at all.— Excerpt from Solving the Maize: Reflections on Ruf, Asche, and Player Makeup by Eric Longehagen, September 15, 2013
Ruf is a strong power hitter who, according to one talent evaluator quoted in Lindy's Sports 2014 baseball preview magazine, possesses "raw country strength" at the plate. He has an uppercut swing, and struggles to hit outside pitches because of poor balance at the plate, but consequently, is able to hit fly balls and drive mistake pitches out of the park. He is a patient hitter, but is the opposite of many hitters, in that as a right-handed hitter, he hits left-handed pitchers better than right-handed pitchers.
Ruf has played first base as well as both of the corner outfield spots during his career, and focused on the outfield during the latter stages of his development because of Ryan Howard's perceived preeminence at first base. In the outfield, Ruf is a "liability", and he is "pretty shaky" at first base, further underscoring his "man without a position" persona within the Phillies' organization. This has led some to suggest he would be better suited as a designated hitter in the American League.
Ruf's wife is Libby Schuring, whom Ruf married in December 2011. His hobbies include golfing and traveling. During the offseason, he resides in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. Christa Ruf, Ruf's sister, also attended Creighton; she played softball there for four seasons.
- "Darin Ruf Biography". GoCreighton.com, The Official Site of Bluejay Athletics. Creighton University. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
- "Christa Ruf". GoCreighton.com, The Official Site of Bluejay Athletics. Creighton University. Retrieved April 5, 2014.
- "Creighton's Ruf makes debut in Phillies' rout". Omaha World Herald. Associated Press. September 14, 2012. Archived from the original on April 4, 2014. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
- "Darin Ruf Career Summary" (PDF). GoCreighton.com, The Official Site of Bluejay Athletics. Creighton University. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
- White, Rob (May 3, 2010). "Phillies executive Wolever is scouting the homefront". Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
- Seidman, Corey (October 18, 2013). "Phillies Stay or Go: Darin Ruf". CSNPhilly.com. Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
- Crasnick, Jerry (September 10, 2012). "Phillies promote Darin Ruf". ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
- Clark, Bonnie, ed. (March 2014). 2014 Phillies Media Guide. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The Phillies. pp. 158–59.
- "Cloyd, Ruf win 2012 Paul Owens Awards" (Press release). MLB Advanced Media. August 29, 2012. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
- Lawrence, Ryan (September 26, 2012). "Phillies Notebook: Darin Ruf homers for first hit". The Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
- Gallen, Pat (November 4, 2012). "Phillies Player Review: Darin Ruf". 2012 Player Reviews – Darin Ruf. Phillies Nation. Retrieved April 5, 2014.
- Salisbury, Jim (July 6, 2013). "Howard to 15-day DL; Ruf recalled from Triple A". CSNPhilly.com. Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia. Archived from the original on July 8, 2013. Retrieved July 6, 2013.
- Floyd, Jay (September 28, 2013). "Ruf playing as though his job is on the line". Features – Phillies Nation. Phillies Nation. Retrieved April 5, 2014.
- Deitch, Dennis (March 30, 2014). "Phils count on fast-aging nucleus to turn back the clock". The Trentonian. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
- Salisbury, Jim (June 3, 2014). "Darin Ruf hurt in Triple A game, DL likely". CSNPhilly.com. Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia. Archived from the original on August 9, 2014. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
- Gelb, Matt (July 22, 2014). "Darin Ruf returns as John Mayberry Jr. hits DL". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
- Gelb, Matt (July 23, 2014). "Phillies sit Howard for Ruf; platoon on the way?". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
- Popper, Daniel (August 3, 2014). "Ruf sees unexpected action at third". phillies.com: News. MLB Advanced Media. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
- Baumann, Michael (October 10, 2014). "2014 Phillies Report Card: Darin Ruf". Crashburn Alley. SweetSpot Network, an ESPN affiliate. Retrieved November 29, 2014.
- Zolecki, Todd (March 30, 2015). "Amaro weighs in on Opening Day roster decisions". phillies.com. MLB Advanced Media. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
- Gurnick, Ken (November 11, 2016). "Dodgers deal Kendrick to Phillies for Ruf, Sweeney". MLB.com. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
- "S. Korean club signs ex-major league hitter". Yonhapnews Agency. February 17, 2017. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
- Longehagen, Eric (September 15, 2013). "Solving the Maize: Reflections on Ruf, Asche and Player Makeup". Crashburn Alley. SweetSpot Network, an ESPN affiliate. Retrieved April 5, 2014.
- Fraley, Gerry, Crasnick, Jerry; et al. (Spring 2014). "Philadelphia Phillies". In Davis, J. Lindy; O'Neill, Shane. Baseball 2014 Preview. Birmingham, Alabama: Lindy's Sports Annuals. p. 149.
Darin Ruf hit 14 homers and has what one talent evaluator calls 'raw country strength'. He can contribute at first base or a corner outfield spot.
- Baer, Bill (December 17, 2013). "What will Darin Ruf become?". Crashburn Alley. SweetSpot Network, an ESPN affiliate. Retrieved April 5, 2014.
- "Darin Ruf – Splits – 2013". FanGraphs Baseball. FanGraphs. Retrieved April 5, 2014.
- Lee, Alex (November 6, 2013). "Phillies Nation Player Review: Darin Ruf". 2013 Player Reviews. Phillies Nation. Retrieved April 5, 2014.
- O'Brien, Sean (August 28, 2012). "Philadelphia Phillies' Darin Ruf two home runs away from history". Yahoo! Sports. Yahoo! Sports – NBC Sports Network. Archived from the original on April 8, 2014. Retrieved April 5, 2014.
- "Darin Ruf promoted to Major Leagues by Philadelphia Phillies". GoCreighton.com, The Official Site of Bluejay Athletics. Creighton University. September 10, 2012. Retrieved April 5, 2014.