The Astros have agreed to terms with fourth-round pick 3B Rio Ruiz on a $1.85 million contract. He will forego his scholarship to USC and instead begin his pro career with the Houston Astros. His bonus is the biggest thus far compared to assigned pick value in the 2012 draft, coming in at $1,489,800 over the $360,200 allocated for the 129th overall pick. As Alex and I both said in our podcast last week, signing Ruiz was almost a foregone conclusion as the club continues to put an emphasis on the draft and player development while getting their farm system back to normalcy.
Rio Ruiz was considered a sure fire first round pick coming into this season before missing most of his senior season at Bishop Amat High School following surgery to remove a blood clot in his neck in March. He has since had the surgery and been medically cleared to resume baseball activities. He projects to stick as a third baseman at the MLB level with an average bat, plus raw power and a strong arm. He actually doubled as a closer in high school and his arm can get electric if needed. The Astros drafted him and plan to use him as a third baseman so Ruiz will not be doubling as a closer in the minor leagues. His game and body of work has been compared to that of fellow California native and former A’s third baseman, Eric Chavez. Both are right handed throwing, left handed hitting third baseman who hit with power, play good defense and have a strong arm. If everything works out, then that’s a great comparison for Astros fans to look forward to. Ruiz easily slots into our top ten prospects as it would be tough for a player of his caliber not to.
Hunter Virant, the Astros eleventh round selection and a UCLA commit will in all likelihood fulfill his scholarship and go to college. Coming into the draft, Virant had a seven figure price tag to sign and forgo his scholarship- and with Ruiz netting 1.85 mil, it will not leave enough money to satisfy Virant’s demands while staying under the salary cap allotted for the Astros in the draft. The Astros will still be able to sign their three remaining college seniors selected in the first ten rounds (Florida shortstop Nolan Fontana and outfielder Preston Tucker and UCLA catcher Tyler Heineman) without going over their bonus pool of $11,177,700 by 5 percent. If they did exceed their pool, it would cost them a first-round pick next year, which GM Jeff Luhnow has said will not happen.