Matt Dominguez is currently the Houston Astros third baseman. But last Thursday saw the Astros acquire another third baseman to add minor league depth. Colin Moran has joined the Corpus Christi Hooks and is likely closer to the major leagues than Rio Ruiz.
Regardless Dominguez is still a good defender while his bat is a little lacking. And he is extremely slow.
The good news is that the Astros’ organization is very deep in talent. While third base lacks the depth that some other positions have, Rio Ruiz and Colin Moran are two likely candidates in uprooting Dominguez’ presence. Given how young Ruiz is, 2014 is his age-20 season, I think that Ruiz has the upper hand on Moran.
Ruiz was taken out of high school in the 4th round of the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft. Prior to that draft, Perfect Game scouted Ruiz as an “excellent hitter, very good bat speed” as well as having “top defensive skills.” Ruiz is unique, in a way, in that he hits left-handed but throws right-handed. This has earned him comps to Eric Chavez.
Ruiz came to the Astros as sort of a gift. A blood clot cost him the remainder of his senior season and subsequently hurt his draft stock. While the Astros were able to draft him well below what he likely could have gone as, the Astros had to sign him to an over-slot deal in order for him to sign. Ruiz decided to pass on the University of Southern California when the Astros offered him $1,850,000 to join their organization.
Making his professional debut in 2012, Ruiz slashed .252/.336/.400 between two of the Astros’ rookie level affiliates. He had just 1 home run in 38 games and managed 18 RBI. Again, he had a blood clot earlier that season and he was likely a little rusty.
Rio saw his power increase during the 2013 season. Or perhaps get back to what is expected of him. For the Single A Quad Cities River Bandits, Ruiz slashed .260/.335/.430. Along with 12 home runs and 63 RBI, Rio had 12 stolen bases in 15 attempts.
And the 2014 season has saw his stats, understandably, increase for the Lancaster Jethawks. Though there is still some season left to be played, Ruiz already has 11 home runs and a slash line of .303/.394/.459.
“Houston loves Ruiz’s pretty swing path, track record of hitting and balance at the plate. He has powerful hands and forearms, producing homers with strength and bat speed. Some club officials project him as a plus-plus hitter with above-average power, though area scouts saw Ruiz as merely solid in both regards. He has plenty of arm strength for third base, having hit 95 mph off the mound as a junior. He’s athletic with good body control and soft hands, so he should just need repetitions to become a dependable defender. He has below-average speed.” – Baseball America (2013)
The next couple of years should get fairly interesting as Ruiz continues his development slightly behind newly acquired Colin Moran. Both players could trade into trade chips if Dominguez is able to continue to develop at the major league level. But please, do not hold your breath on that.