San Diego Padres’ Esteury Ruiz plays mature beyond his years.
Like Rosario, Esteury Ruiz is an 18-year-old international free agent from the Dominican Republic. Ruiz came to San Diego by way of Kansas City. He originally signed with the Royals two years ago for $100,000 and made a quick impact by hitting .313 with five home runs in the Dominican Summer League.
Last summer, the Royals packaged Ruiz with Matt Straham and Travis Wood in exchange for Trevor Cahill, Brandon Maurer, and Ryan Buchter. MLB Pipeline slotted Ruiz as the 30th ranked Padres prospect, but I expect him to move up into the top 20 later this month.
Here’s how Ruiz has performed through his first two seasons in the Dominican Summer League and Arizona League.
2016 (DSL): .313/.378/.512/.889 slash line, 18 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR, 13 SB
2017 (AZL): .350/.395/.602/.997 slash line, 20 2B, 10 3B, 4 HR, 26 SB.
He played in nearly the same number of games and had nearly the same number of at-bats in both seasons. After moving stateside, Ruiz continued his impressive slash-line while doing a much better job of driving the ball into the gaps.
What do evaluators have to say about this San Diego Padres prospect?
Fangraphs gives Ruiz a 50 grade for his hit and fielding tools along with a 45 grade on his power. Offensively, he’s developed well beyond his years, so let’s wait and see how Ruiz handles more refined pitching in the high minors. He will be 19 when the MiLB season starts and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Padres put him in Fort Wayne to begin the year.
The consensus among evaluators appears to be that Ruiz is, at worst, a utility infielder on a major league roster. Defense appears to be his major weakness at this point. His quickness provides incredible range, but he has struggled with the glove the last two seasons.
While you can never have too many prospects in your system, the Padres will have a lot of tough decisions to make over the next two-three years as this crop develops. Ruiz will be in competition with Gabriel Arias, Luis Urias, Fernando Tatis, Jr, Hudson Potts, and Eguy Rosario for a position within the infield.
Let’s say each of these prospects only reaches their projected floor, that’s still six serviceable major leaguers. Any odd-prospects out will be very valuable trade chips for the Padres to bring in needed veteran pieces when this team is ready to compete.