Feature Photo: Keibert Ruiz, C, Dodgers
Editor’s Note: We’ve added all of our recent scouting reports, spotlights, and live video from the Arizona Fall League to our 2018 sortable libraries at the links below:
Also, be sure to check out our podcasts page for episodes of Defensive Indifference (AFL Edition) with your hosts Ryan Sullivan and John “Uncle Jack” Eshleman.
You can read all of our Arizona Fall League updates here:
Featured AFL Videos
- Daulton Varsho, C, Diamondbacks (Salt River Rafters)
- Jahmai Jones, 2B, Angels (Mesa Solar Sox)
- Jordan Sheffield, RHP, Dodgers (Glendale Desert Dogs)
- Shed Long, 2B, Reds (Scottsdale Scorpions)
- Justin Garza, RHP, Indians (Glendale Desert Dogs)
Featured AFL Reports
- Cristian Pache, OF, Braves (Peoria Javelinas) -Adam McInturff
- Will Craig, 1B, Pirates (Surprise Saguaros) -John Eshleman
- Brandon Lawson, RHP, Rays (Peoria Javelinas) -Adam McInturff
- Julio Pablo Martinez, OF, Rangers (Surprise Saguaros) -John Eshleman
Featured AFL Notes from the Field
- Austin Allen, C, Padres (Peoria Javelinas)
- Jared Robinson, RHP, Indians (Glendale Desert Dogs)
- Ian Miller, OF, Mariners (Peoria Javelinas)
- Tanner Chleborad, RHP, Orioles (Glendale Desert Dogs)
- Anthony Misiewicz, LHP, Mariners (Peoria Javelinas)
Featured AFL Spotlights
Keibert Ruiz, C, Dodgers (Glendale Desert Dogs)
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/200 lbs. B/T: S/R Age (as of September 1, 2018): 20y, 1m
The Dodgers continued to push Ruiz aggressively in 2018, assigning him to Double-A as a 19-year-old. He turned 20 midway through the season, playing into the fall with Glendale. A death in the family ended his AFL season early, but I got looks at Ruiz in October.
Built thick but flexible, his 6-foot-tall, 200-pound frame is well-suited for catching. He is most polished defensively, setting low and quiet targets with soft hands receiving the ball. Advanced footwork and a quick release play up average raw arm strength. A switch-hitter, Ruiz is more of a contact hitter and more of a threat from the left-hand side of the plate. He looked tired at the end of a long season, and while he never has shown tons of raw power, the strength of contact was lighter overall than my looks earlier in the season. Ruiz might never be a 20+ home run threat, but given his age, body type, and loose swing, there’s reason to project some power against righties.
The minor leagues are flush with catching prospects right now, and Ruiz is near the top of that list. The ceiling is an above-average backstop with 55-grade defensive tools and solid on-base ability for the position. His offensive is very oriented around contact and the hit tool, a profile that can regress under the physical rigors of catching. Even if Ruiz winds up closer to an average offensive producer for the position as the years go by, his instincts and defensive ability will make him a long-time big leaguer. -Adam McInturff
Ronaldo Hernandez, C, Rays (Peoria Javelinas)
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/185 lbs. B/T: R/R Age (as of September 1, 2018): 20y, 9m
Hernandez had a breakout 2018 season as a 20-year-old in the Midwest League, establishing himself as one of the better catching prospects in the game. I saw the power-hitting backstop after he joined Peoria midway through the Fall League season.
Hernandez has a thick 6-foot-1 frame that’s plenty strong and durable, looking heavier than his listed weight of 185 pounds. A strong right-handed swing with plenty of natural leverage gives above-average raw power, already able to drive the ball with advanced loft power to the pull side and straightaway. There’s ample power projection, and the chance to run into 15-to-20 long balls a year is significant given his chance to stick at catcher. While his .284 average and low strikeout rates indicate an enthusing level of natural bat-to-ball ability, there are still aspects of Hernandez’ hit tool that need to be tightened up before he’s ready for big league pitching. The swing is more strong than quick, making it difficult to adjust the barrel to well-located pitches. Hernandez has an aggressive approach and swings early in counts, yanking most balls to the pull side and frequently chasing breaking stuff from righties.
Hernandez has the physical tools to develop into an average defender behind the plate, though his receiving and footwork need additional polish. His receiving can be a bit stiff and/or overexaggerated at times as he learns to frame pitches. He sets up differently on offspeed, something that can tip the opposing dugout to soft stuff in certain counts. A former infielder that converted to catcher after signing, Hernandez has plenty of time to iron out small parts of his defense with continued development. He blocks well and shows a solid throwing arm, though his release could live to get a bit quicker as well. The ceiling is an above-average regular with enough catch/throw ability to stick at a premium position, where the chance for power plays as plus. Hernandez is at least two years away, and while there’s always risk with catching prospects, the offensive upside behind the plate will put him in the mix for top prospect lists this winter. -Adam McInturff